Politicians on notice for Can of Worms
Celebs may be welcome on TEN's Can of Worms, but Dicko explains that politicians are better off sticking with Q & A.
Politicians may get something of a ‘free run’ on Q & A, but there’ll be nothing of the kind on Can of Worms.
“If I could find a politician that didn’t lie and tell the truth we’d put them on. But that’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” says host Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson.
“If you watch, as I do, Q & A, everyone gets p*ssed off that they just avoid the question the whole time. This is a show that’s based around answering the question, not avoiding it.
“If someone is brave enough to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll come on and answer everything you ask me honestly’ –then we’d love to have them. But the first time we have a politician come on and push their own agenda, that’ll be the end of it I’m afraid.”
The new talk-based show begins tonight on TEN with three guests, The Chaser‘s Craig Reucassel, social commentator George McEncroe and former AFL star Jason Akermanis.
The original format asks all three guests to respond to a curly question before Dicko challenges them on their answers.
“Ostensibly it’s ‘What do you think?’, ‘Why do you think that?’ and “Is it negotiable?’ I walk our guests through certain scenarios that challenge their position,” he explains.
There are also poll results conducted by Roy Morgan Research and presented by comedian Meshel Laurie plus vox pops hosted by Dan Ilic.
So far the show has attracted some coy reactions from those who have been approached to appear.
“You have to put your values and morals on the line for all to see, and there’s nowhere to hide. A lot of celebrities and well-known Australians have become a little gun-shy. And that’s been one of our challenges: to try and get people on the show early on, who are brave enough to play with us.
“I know there are a few managers and agents out there saying ‘We’re not going to commit to this until we see how it goes.’
There is also a studio audience for the show which may also illustrate if a guest’s opinions are out of sync with the wider masses.
“We’ve built in a few devices where, if needs be, we can go to the audience. But it’s not prescriptive. We don’t have to if we don’t feel we need to, because it’s quite a busy show. We’ve had to cut out a hell of a lot of stuff that we were really wedded to, because we don’t have time in 44 commercial minutes,” he says.
But one test will be whether the show should be live to air, like Q & A, the show upon which it has drawn the most comparisons. The former Australian Idol host admits to being a fan of live telly, but says it takes a while for guests to relax before they divulge their personal views. Yet not airing live also denies the show the chance to engage the audience with Twitter.
“It has been a bit of a challenge with the bold claims we’ve made about embracing social media with a show that’s not live. But I guess the way we reconcile that is that we’re interacting with social media and having a dialogue for 24/7 and at 8:30 on a Monday night is the traditional broadcasting window. The conversation and argument carries on 24/7,” he suggests.
“But we are trying to find a way to make that more meaningful.”
The show is produced by Zapruder’s Other Films under Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby, after being created by Dicko and David Wilson of Watercooler Media.
“When I took it to Andrew and Anita I guess in our minds we’d thoroughly interrogated the show. But looking back on it now, we know how much we’ve had to really work hard on the show. It seems such a naïve thought to have had that I’m almost ashamed to be admitting it. It wouldn’t even be breathing now if it hadn’t been fully interrogated by Andrew and the Zapruders mob,” he says.
“People are happy there, they work really hard, and they’re intelligent. It’s not often you see that sort of set-up in the TV business. It’s really impressive. So I was absolutely convinced that was the place to take my baby.”
The concept also won support when TEN Executives David Mott, Rick Maier and Paul Leadon participated in a round of ‘worms.’
“I think they’re still recovering actually!” Dicko laughs. “Motty was incredibly un-PC. He was very funny. I was thinking ‘Jesus, I hope he comes on as a guest.’ But they just threw themselves in. They could obviously see the show then and there and they became engaged in the subjects and saw it in all its three dimensional glory.”
Pre-recorded last night, the show is filmed on a set that Dicko says sits between a talk-show and a game-show.
“It’s a shiny floor set. We were really keen to give it a gloss, make it schmicko, make it an entertainment set even though it’s conversation-based. We didn’t want it to be staid or flat, so we’ve even got intelligent lighting that used to get your heart pumping on Idol” he says.
But after watching other formats fall by the wayside this year, Dicko is under no illusions that he could be in for a rough ride.
“Andrew said to me ‘You may not realise, a tiny fraction of people on the planet get to do what you’re doing, which is to devise a show and appear on it and see it through.’ So I do feel a little bit blessed,” he says.
“But he’s trying to get me to come to terms with the fact that this show may not hit it straps until week 5 or 6. That’s terrifying for me because I’m inexperienced and I want this to be fully-formed by Monday night.
“It’s thrilling but really nerve-wracking.”
Can of Worms premieres at 8:30pm tonight on TEN.