Risk applauded on new TEN quiz

2013-11-07_2316Television’s newest quiz show launched to little fanfare last weekend, but that’s exactly how its makers wanted it.

Have You Been Paying Attention? comes from the Working Dog crew, best known for Frontline, The Panel and Thank God You’re Here.

Tom Gleisner (pictured) hosts the show in which a group of 5 personalities answer random questions based on the week’s news, usually with amusing answers.

The show will run into summer’s non-rating period, strategically allowing the show to bed in without the usual kind of ratings pressure applied to new formats.

Producer Michael Hirsh says the limited marketing push was all part of the plan.

“We’re a summer fill-in. We’ll go until December 22nd, so we’re a tiny little thing,” he says.

“I reckon discovery is much stronger than being promo’d. As an audience I like a little bit of discovery.

“When you take a risk with something that isn’t an imported or stolen format things take a bit of time, so I was rapt with (Sunday) night.”

The simple concept is based on a podcast that had turned into regular fun for its participants. But the challenge was to adapt it into a television format.

“We’ve always loved the idea of a quiz and a lot of fun to be had. Whenever you get a ‘straight’ format it’s always good to lay a comedy on top of it,” says Hirsh.

‘We had such fun with the podcast we thought we would see if we could make it on television.

“We thought scoring was important and we wanted to have fun with it. We liked the idea of having a true answer and a comedic answer. But there have been quiz shows, both serious and comedy ones, since the beginning of television.

“We’re also extremely proud that for most people there are some new faces, we put new people on television.”

Guests on the first week included Ed Kavalee, Jane Kennedy, Troy Kinne, Rachel Corbett and Sam Pang. Except for Kennedy, all will return this Sunday -joined by Kate Langbroek.

At 7pm, Hirsh argues the show offers a change from singing, dancing and cooking television.

“It’s good enough for the family, it has a PG rating and we’re asking people ‘Are You Paying Attention?’ We’ve got all this social media with Facebook and Instagram, news, print, digital, so it’s important that people have been paying attention and have some fun with that,” he says.

“I like that we are a family experience. I go back to the days when we were locked into Countdown or Hey Hey. I think we just need to be on, be part of the furniture. At 8:30, or even 7:30, you have to be a bit bigger and be shinier.

“If anything I’d argue we could be earlier, but I’m not necessarily a programmer.”

Hirsh isn’t fazed that the first ratings were modest, averaging just 301,000, shrugging off the trend towards instant ratings gratification.

“People seem to forget that we weren’t really rating that well at the beginning of The Panel, nor were we necessarily liked by a number of critics either. It was a situation that an audience grabbed it and ran with it.

“If you’re expecting instant results in terms of ratings then you can say goodbye to Seinfeld, The Panel, The Late Show but, I’m not putting myself in the Seinfeld camp, these things take a long time to get going.”

Demonstrating the network’s faith in the team, TEN even allowed promotion to take a back seat. The team didn’t agree to any interviews or publicity until this week.

“We always find it more comfortable once we’ve done a show to talk about it, rather than come out with a whole gamut of promises,” Hirsh explains.

“It’s better that we put it out there and then we can talk about it.

“If you’re asking for instant hits, you’re not going to commit to these things and take risks. You need to take risks for a much longer pay off.

“We’ll probably go down next week. You just have to take time and hope people will come on board. I applaud TEN for taking a risk.

“They should be encouraged to try and do things and have a bit of a go.”

Have You Been Paying Attention? airs 7pm Sundays on TEN.


  1. SouthCoastSaint

    As fans of the Santo Sam & Ed podcast, distracted by the fact they’re now on Foxtel doing their footy thang, the lack of promotion meant that HYBPA snuck up on us.

    We watch as a family. On a trip home from Sydney last night we “Tenplayed” Episode 1 on the iPad over the Bluetooth in the car, and watched last nights episode tonight. It’s a pity people don’t appreciate non-reality or Champagne Comedy anymore.

    Our kids loved the Podcast, they love Micallef , the love The Roast. What do they all have in common? Current affairs. And the kids are learning what goes on in the world and having a laugh at the same time. Better to keep up with the real world than keep up with trash.

  2. I am going to come to Ten’s defence here. The Project, This Week Live and ….Attention are quite different shows.

    One is a casual news program that is informative and is more current affairs than A Current Affair will ever be. If you want to bag the hell out of anybody…then bag the hell out of The Project’s commercial competition. It is utter crap!

    This wWeek Live was an entertaining look at the week’s news topics…with the odd guest. Better guests would have helped.

    …Attention is an entertaining game show….certainly not informative

    The three are not stocked full of the same people…They might have one person from another show occasionally as a one off but ten is just trying to cross promote. It’s not like it is the same panel every week …and they are produced by different production companies so they would not want the same people on every week

    Put any of…

  3. @Sydney2K

    A solution? Anything but more of the same …. especially when it hasn’t been sucessful previously …….

    @BillyC – ” It might not work but 10 have got to try something and this is cheap and can be tweaked. If it doesn’t work they haven’t lost much”

    What they have lost is the respect of their audience …. ie – what’s left of their audience …., & faith from their advertisers and more resentment from their shareholders ……

  4. @randwick: I disagree. This Week Live is not on air any more and unlikely to return. Topical comedy is an established genre.

    Sure they have The Poject but they are different people from the Working Dog Team and it’s a different style of show. Less chat more gags. It might not work but 10 have got to try something and this is cheap and can be tweaked. If it doesn’t work they haven’t lost much.

    This Week Live was a mistake because it was just rolling out more Token comics who are all a bit samey and wasn’t much different from The Project and overexposed.

    What are the alternatives? They’re shooting Offspring, it’s almost the end of the year.

  5. Haven’t watched but will.santo,Sam and Ed is a great podcast.i was wary of Ed not being one of the originals ( working dog team) but I’ve heard him on a few different podcasts,he’s great.maybe it won’t be a ratings smash but a comfy Sunday night wind down.not for everyone but I’m watching ten again.like the old days.stick to your guns ten,word of mouth is worth everything

  6. “When you take a risk with something that isn’t an imported or stolen format things take a bit of time, so I was rapt with (Sunday) night.” it is GNW crossed with Blankety Blanks

  7. @BillyC

    My point is, Ten has saturated their own market(or whats left of them) with programs featuring comedians talking about the news.

    One has failed, the other is displaying low ratings, and dropping futher on occaision, and another is defunct …….

    So when you have 2 programs which are ordinary in the ratings, why introduce another which has a similar concept?

    No amount of spin from ten is going to help ……

  8. I thought they needed more joke answers, not less – correct answers are boring. A quickfire of joke answers is more like ‘Mock the Week’, which is always entertaining.

    Also, I thought Sam and Ed were excellent, particularly Sam resisting the urge to prove he knew the answers in favour of a gag – glad to hear they’ll be back.

  9. @maxxdude
    Kavalee was part of world cup fever which I think was well received on SBS. Also the Sam Santo and Ed podcast was very successful. Get This however is one of the most cult radio shows in Australia’s history. It has huge numbers of obsessive fans. I didn’t see Scumbus but it was supposed to have been okay and I personally liked The Joy of Sets. Sure TV Burb wasn’t brilliant but it had it’s moments.
    I think Ed is better on radio but I will give anything he’s involved with a shot.

  10. I loved it! Then again similar to @oztvheritage I’m of The D-Gen and Late Show Generation!!

    It’s a bit GNW-ish (and of all the formats other shows have based on GNW, notably almost all on Ten, even TAYG) but I think I have more faith in Working Dog to make a success of it, esp in the Digital/Social Media age.

    @beckala – I don’t work for Ten, but you might be able to watch it on TenPlay as a means of catch-up.

  11. I think the problem is that the Ten brand is so damaged that no one is watching, I barely watch the network anymore – there is nothing grabbing my attention, its not so much that I haven’t been “paying attention”

    I gave this a try but yeah the “comedic” answers had me flipping around after the first break – there is nothing that unique about the show once you have seen the first segment – needs to be mixed up a bit more

    The bedding in a show works when there are eyeballs on the network which 10 currently sadly lacks…. this will get beaten during summer ratings by whatever Women’s Weekly special 9 runs and other lesser shows on 7 and the ABC

  12. Dr.Karl Stefaknowvic

    Just the latest comedy stinker to join the class of 2013 whose ranks include League of Their Own, Slide Show, Tractor Monkeys, This Week Live, and Ja’mie: Private School Girl.

  13. @randwick: I wouldn’t say Channel 10 comedians. Not the usual Project/this week live/before the came recycling.

    Also not a panel show. It’s a genuine quiz. They aren’t really bantering they just answer questions.

    I watched in on my phone. It was okay. Much better than many other recent offerings and they’ve got time to tweak it. Another 80,000 and they could be in the top 20.

    It was pretty pacey which was good. I think people will discover it. It made me laugh more than Ja’mie.

  14. @Benji77 they’re barely scripted. Listen to the quiz on the Santo Sam & Ed podcasts. They’ve got great chemistry and bounce off each other as they work together. They just know how to deliver a punchline and know where to pause.

  15. I thought the show was way too over-rehearsed. There was nothing spontaneous, which a good comedy quiz show really needs.

    Little promotion and low ratings might give the show some street cred with the indie hipsters. But that isn’t going to get them far when it comes to future renewals and scheduling. Working dog is losing a lot of their sparkle with a lot of one season wonders under their belt.

  16. The fact is, the show rated 304,000 viewers nationally on Sunday night, that is a total disaster, they can’t even try to put spin on that result!

    It’s actually hilarious to suggest TEN should be applauded for taking this risk, I’m sure their shareholders are not clapping and cheering!

    Three new panel shows on TEN this year, three flops!

    To be fair, Seven have also had their share of failures (The Mole, Formal Wars, Please Marry my Boy) but at least there have been some big hits too.

  17. I guess this article is pretty much a good piece of spin ….. How anybody would want their program to end up not in the top 20 on it’s debut is beyond logic …….

    For any program to survive it needs some, if any traction, which this hasn’t got ……….

    Added to that, ten is going off on one of it’s tangents, like it did with oversupply of masterchef and cooking programs, but this time it’s about news ….

    Lets see …. Correct me if I am wrong …. the project is a panel show filled with (channel ten) comedians …. about news ….. this week live …. which i guess is no longer ….. was a panel show filled with (channel ten) comedians talking about news ….. and now you have another show filled with (channel ten) comedians about news ……

    3 programs filled with (channel ten) comedians about news?

    If this is the case, it’s just a pure oversupply of a very…

  18. Get rid of the two joke answers before the correct answer formula, make it faster, make it punchier.

    Make sure you rotate through the guests each week (and no-one from the Roving stable please).

    I like it though.

  19. I saw absolutely no Promos at all….so I feel it was a bit tooooo minimal!

    Only new about it from this site.

    It was great seeing the Working Dog team on air again the enjoyed show very much….But then again….I am a dad!

  20. I generally love Working Dog productions but this wasn’t very funny. It was like a bad pub trivia night with lots of ‘Dad’ jokes. I’ll be watching again this week. I really would like it to work.

  21. I’ve been working nights at the moment so I missed all of the (what some say to be minimal) publicity so I had no idea about it until Monday. But I will definitely be watching it this week!!

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