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. 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

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