Tonightly with Tom Ballard leads ABC2 rebrand to ABC Comedy

No journalistic nous, but plenty of punchlines promises Tom Ballard ahead of new show for channel revamp.

A new weeknight comedy show Tonightly with Tom Ballard will launch a rebrand for ABC2 to be known as ABC Comedy.

The relaunch on Monday December 4 will end ABC2 after 12 years, with a primetime comedy line-up from 7:30pm (ABC KIDS will continue in daytime) featuring Australian & international titles.

As tipped by TV Tonight Tonightly with Tom Ballard will air at 9pm Monday – Thursday with a “Best Of” edition on Fridays.

Ballard will be joined by field reporters Greta Lee-Jackson (SkitBox), Greg Larsen (Fancy Boy) and Bridie Connell (Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia).

Ballard tells TV Tonight, while other shows aimed at youth audiences present fresh news his focus will be on humour.

“We’re a Comedy show. We don’t have the journalistic nous of those other ones. We’re sometimes idiots and that will be fully apparent when people tune in to Tonightly,” he says.

“The world doesn’t need more news! They need jokes about the news, dammit.

“It is an entirely original format! I can’t think of any other show in the entire world that is anything like it at all!”

Tonightly will screen for 3 weeks in December before breaking for Christmas and returning on January 8th. It will include a studio audience, recording As Live in Ultimo, 2 hours ahead of broadcast.

“We’re starting at the end of what’s been a crazy, crazy year for Australia & the World, so we will have some fun looking back at the year that was as well as keeping track of things that are breaking, generally,” he explains.

“Obviously things will be reflective and reactive, following news throughout the week. The vast majority will be ripped from the day’s headlines in online, culture, sport, tech, politics –anything we think we can make damn funny.

“But we will also be working on longer-form stories that we think aren’t in the national conversation that we think are interesting, and bringing them to the fore. That could be either at the desk or with 1 of 3 reporters going out to rural, buttf*** nowhere.”

The show will also send content via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iview and podcasts to reach its target audience.

“Human beings with eyeballs and ratings boxes,” Ballard jokes.

“We don’t think a show like this has been on Australian television for a while, going back to Tonight Live with Steve Vizard in the early 90s. But in terms of a Comedy show, with the LOLs and yuk yuks, every night of the week –that’s us.

“I’ve heard about some little show called The Daily Show which is Canadian or American or something. That started as a hybrid show of a Tonight show and news bulletin parodies.”

Andrew Garrick & Nick Hayden are executive producers whilst Michael Chamberlain heads up a writing team of 5.

“It’s the best TV show and everybody has to watch it,” he declares.

“But also reserve judgment for a little while, while we figure out what the hell we’re doing!

“It’s worth having a crack at it. I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t do it.”

Nobody can begrudge him that.

“I will make a guarantee for the readers of TV Tonight that this show will be funnier than Q&A!”

Tonightly with Tom Ballard begins 9pm Monday December 4 on ABC Comedy.

18 Responses

  1. So the ABC worked out that late SBS2 knew how to pick comedies for a young middle class audience 🙂

    I wonder if SBS VICELAND will pick up the relevant British docos ABC2 is discarding. I’m guessing the best of them will end up on ABC1.

  2. Considering what I like about ABC2 was their documentary and random film content, I am not sure I can get quite get behind this change.

    But it would be a good time to swap it over to MPEG4 I suppose.

  3. Agree, what a weird move. Surely not in the charter to promote “comedy”. And what happens to all the ABC2 staples? They’ll have to move to the main ABC channel and that doesn’t make sense…

  4. I like ABC’s thinking given that they seem to be the comedy leaders, but given they are keeping all their successful titles on their primary channel (e.g. Gruen, Weekly with Pickering, Ex-PM; according to other reports today) it is likely this new channel will only air B-grade titles which don’t appeal to the majority so are not worthy to air on the primary channel. As such I can’t see it being overly successful. But hey best of luck to the ABC for trying something different.

  5. I wish them luck but I don’t think they can be able to pump out topical comedy every night of the week. It is very hard to write comedy, and topical comedy is especially difficult. Mike Willesee on Seven tried in 1981 and was universally panned. Seven axed his show at the end of that year and replaced it with Sons and Daughters.

    I’ve been critical of ABC Comedy in the past but if they can revamp ABC2 – a total wasteland in the past – then it will be a victory for niche programming, which is what the supplementary digital channels were intended for in the first place.

    It’s a pity the kid’s shows are staying thru the day – ABC Me is devoted entirely to kid’s shows so we don’t need them on ABC2 as well. I would suggest that during the day they rebrand the station ABC Classic TV and show programs from the archives such as Countdown, Aunty Jack, Norman Gunston, Monday…

    1. ABCme and ABCkids have two different audiences. Look at the ratings to see how popular ABCkids is. If you rewatch the “classics” you’ll be impressed by how pathetic they were in comparison to modern production values.

    2. Kids and ME are meant to be different. Kids is meant to be pre-school and ME is meant to be primarily school (they also claim tweens, but no tween is watching unless they got anime on).

    3. If ABC2 is a “total wasteland”, then it would be a victory for niche programming. Very niche programming.

      As others have said, ABCKids and ABC ME have completely separate target audiences.

      People would watch ABC Classic TV, just as people in the UK watched UK Gold. But it would hurt DVD sales.

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