Tractor Monkeys

12tmABC has a new version of Spicks and Specks called Tractor Monkeys and it’s coming to a Wednesday near you.

That’s after Randling and before the all new Spicks and Specks hosted by … well, we still don’t know who’s hosting that one.

In the role of Adam Hills is Merrick Watts, best known for his radio career, a Foxtel comedy series and guesting on various shows.

In the roles of Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough are Monty Dimond and Dave O’Neill respectively. Instead of music trivia this relies on old ABC clips that have been sourced from Aunty’s video vault. Strangely, the title is never actually explained….

In the first episode the guests are Adam Richard, Ella Hooper, Frank Woodley and Tom Gleeson.

The segments include “Say When,” “The Politicians We Deserve,” “Pulling Out,” “They Did Things Differently Back Then,” and “Ready Mr Music”all rely on various trivia strategies of identifying obscure images, choosing a year in question, figuring out what comes next in a video sequence. A stock standard “Quickfire” round wraps things up.

These are constructs that facilitate some quaint vintage clips such as 1960s fashions and 1970s news reels, and plenty of punchlines. The show also offers a special app for viewers to play along at home.

The panel does a decent job of keeping the ball in the air with mirth and humour -Dave O’Neill is especially skilled at a wry observation delivered with his trademark under-achiever style. For Adam Richard, the gags are effortless.

Merrick Watts is a laconic Aussie host, studying the autocue when reeling off the gameplay rules, but more effective at the mid-game banter.

Unlike Spicks and Specks there isn’t a lot of physical involvement for the panel in the first episode and more might pepper the visuals.

While the show is harmless fun with a feeling of familiarity, I can’t help but feel the ABC would achieve more longevity in devising new formats rather than trying to re-create the success of its best-known brand.

As The Renovators learned by channelling MasterChef too closely, the key to this show succeeding will be in finding its own voice. Talkin’ Bout Your Generation may have also had parlour games and trivia but the generational angle, duo teams and the subtext between cast made it distinct.

If this can achieve that it may have legs. If not, it could be destined to the ABC video vault itself. 

Tractor Monkeys airs 8:30pm Wednesday March 20 on ABC1.


  1. I agree with TVTALK, same old, same old. Except Monty Dimond who I’ve never heard of. She didn’t grab me.

    Show was okay … but I wouldn’t rush home to watch it. I’d watch it if nothing else interested me.

  2. seriouslysquare

    the show was good. nothing great nothing special. nothing that hadn’t been seen before (ie spicks and specks). the games are lame and rather quick and seem to all be the same… had its moments. looking forward to seeing if it sinks or swims…

  3. Just saw this show. You know what? It wasn’t bad. At least it had some actual jokes in it, which is something sadly missing from everything else the ABC labels “comedy”.

    However, it aint Spicks And Specks. That show had a chemistry which I don’t think will ever be repeated. Also, Merrick Watts has a tendency to steamroller his lines, rather than pacing them like Adam Hills or Will Anderson. Slow down, Merrick!

  4. This will be an unpopular post, but here goes anyway ….

    Can TV in general begin looking for new talent to feature on these panel shows rather than the same overused people who have been everywhere? Dave O’Neill is on just about everything, as is the spectacularly unfunny Josh Thomas and Adam Richard.

    The same people pop up on these panels again and again and again, trotting out the same routines. It is so tiresome.

    Are we really that bereft of talent? I think we (as viewers) deserve better than this.

  5. TasTVcameraman

    Danielgonline . Thanks maybe ABC could make it clear that it is called that . I was looking for Tractor Monkeys and they called it the companion app, So i assumed it would be called “Tractor Monkeys”

  6. Secret Squirrel

    I expect to only be moderately entertained by this but I’ll give it a go.

    For those playing at home, Watts was also in both seasons of The Hollowmen.

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