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.