In the Working Dog team, Tom Gleisner has become the unassuming host with the most.
As the Master of Ceremonies on The Panel, Thank God You’re Here and now Have You Been Paying Attention? it’s a hat he cheerfully wears amongst the creative team of Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Jane Kennedy and producer Michael Hirsh.
“Rob is a beautiful actor and Santo’s hosted Total Football for many seasons now. But this is the sort of show that any one of us could have done. How they arrived at me I’m not entirely sure and it probably doesn’t matter all that much,” he tells TV Tonight.
For TEN’s Have You Been Paying Attention? he steers the show’s mix of news and comedy, carefully allowing room for improvised punchlines from 5 competitive panelists.
“It’s an absolute delight to do. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had on Television, because in a way mine is a really easy role. I’m reading out questions facing five very switched-on people. So I never know what’s going to come,” he says.
“I lob the ball up and I never know quite what is going to come back at me.”
The show records each Sunday at TEN’s Como studios, allowing for up to date News to be included, occasionally recording alternate questions (i.e. to allow for a late sports result or even a Greek referendum). With a studio audience -in their original Panel studio- the show prefers to retain its ‘As Live’ feel.
That means Gleisner has had to judge when a panelist such as Ed Kavalee or Sam Pang has offered up their final punchline to a question before giving the answer and moving on.
“Eye contact is usually a pretty clear indication. I can see someone looking at me if they want to say something. So in that sense it’s pretty easy,” he says.
“We constantly remind ourselves ‘It’s a quiz show.’ Of course comedy is our main aim but the structure has to remain the same: get through the questions and answers, so I find driving that quite easy.”
This year the show has added ‘guest quizmasters’ who join Gleisner for a themed rounds, including recent guests Grant Denyer, Gina Liano and Adam Gilchrist.
“We did it for the final show last year which was a charity Christmas special with -wait for this line-up- Jackie Lambie, Matt Preston and Laurina Fleure,” he continues.
“It was so much fun. It breaks things up over the course of the hour. The questions and answers will always be the core component of the show, but it’s nice to add the extra element.
“We’ve had new faces but we have our regulars. I love having Ed and Sam as our ‘bookends’ on most nights.”
This week the show enjoyed its best ratings on TEN, at 673,000 in overnight viewers. Gleisner is grateful TEN has stuck by the show, giving it room to find an audience in the network schedule.
“We come on after MasterChef so it’s not exactly 8:30 but it’s a dream lead-in,” he explains.
“I think Monday is the new Sunday. I reckon it’s the most competitive night of the week, with The Voice, even Media Watch, Q & A or a big Four Corners. It’s probably the most congested night, but there is something to be said for consistency and staying where we’ve been for quite some time now.”
But next week Working Dog’s go-to guy is stepping aside, as Jane Kennedy becomes guest host for one night only.
Gleisner will likely be taking notes….
Have You Been Paying Attention? airs 8:30pm Mondays on TEN.