But on a humble show like Have You Been Paying Attention? host Tom Gleisner insists there is nothing untoward.
“It’s not like anybody’s being cheated. It’s not like Sam Pang has barely answered a question and gets up and wins. Generally speaking if there are 2 people likely to win, it might be that two of their answers are ruled defamatory so suddenly Jane Kennedy pips them at the post,” he explains.
The TEN quiz show, which films the day before broadcast so as to remain fresh, invariably has to trim a few questions in the edit suite. As Gleisner notes, sometimes a cheeky answer doesn’t pass the lawyer checks and leads to a different outcome. But with no prize on the line, it’s hardly in the same league as multiple endings on The Biggest Loser.
“I don’t do a teary interview with the winner afterwards!” Gleisner notes.
Back for a final hurrah for 2014 are Michala Banas, Mick Molloy, Ed Kavalee, Jane Kennedy and Sam Pang, in what serves as a review of the year. Echoing Working Dog’s famous Christmas Wraps for The Panel, the special episode will raise funds for the Igniting Change foundation with each panelist backed by a corporate sponsor.
Also appearing on the show are The Bachelor‘s Lorena, plus Matt Preston and PUP senator Jackie Lambie.
“She provided us with at least half of our comedy so it only seemed fair to give her right of reply,” Gleisner quips.
The quiz show sprang to life last December and has quietly notched up over 30 episodes, but not without several changes in timeslot, running length and classification. But Gleisner is comfortable the show has found its feet.
“I think it became obvious that 6:00 on a Sunday night was not our natural home,” he concedes.
“We were struggling to make it family friendly at 6 and it was a bit constrained by the half hour. So the idea took off, on a creative level, to move it to a more adult and sophisticated territory.
“It became a far more authentic show as an hour and in terms of the audience response, no question it was, and perhaps remains, a slow burn.”
Ratings have been doing it tough. With some fairly lacklustre lead-ins, it seems not everyone has been paying attention.
“I’d bump into someone at a social event and they’d ask ‘What are you guys up to at the moment?’ So they clearly had no idea,” he recalls.
“It was either ‘I’ve seen your show and I don’t like it,’ or ‘I’ve never seen your show.’
“So we knew we had to hold our nerve and keep delivering what we thought were funny shows. Even in the noisy soup of event TV if you are there long enough it will eventually lead people to you.”
But the experienced Working Dog team were also strategic with their new show, deliberately beginning in the non-ratings period with next to no publicity or hype.
“We’ve always felt Comedy is not served by being over-promoted. It works for some shows, like My Kitchen Rules during the tennis –it clearly works. But Comedy (over-promotion) very quickly annoys people, plus a show like ours doesn’t live up to being over-hyped.”
That said, Gleisner admits a short-run comedy such as Utopia on ABC is a different kettle of fish, and it’s too risky to hope word of mouth catches on by episode 7. Working Dog will be returning the comedy for ABC while TEN has renewed Have You Been Paying Attention? for quarter 2 in 2015. In addition to their sports reviews for FOX Sports, they have also devised an ‘adult animation’ for the Comedy Channel, Pacific Heat.
“We’ve whipped up a Pilot episode, in fact it’s still being crafted and we will hand that formally over to Foxtel before the end of this year. Hopefully they will say ‘We love it give us 100 more.’ But I’m not exactly sure how that plays out,” says Gleisner.
“(Animation) is a great format for a certain type of comedy so hopefully we can come up with something that resonates.”
Have You Been Paying Attention to 2014? Year In Review Special. 8:30pm tonight on TEN.