Next Sunday night Tom Gleisner will step into 10’s Como studio in South Yarra to begin filming the 8th season of Have You Been Paying Attention?
Aside from a small crew, including longtime Working Dog floor manager and unabashed loud-laugher Annie Maver, he’ll be alone. Production has had to incorporate social distancing measures both in front of and behind the cameras.
“When we started approaching this season with the restrictions we thought, ‘What if we put perspex screens between each other, like cab drivers?'” Gleisner tells TV Tonight.
“Or we thought about having two people in the studio and then three remotely. But we sort of figured that’s a bit of an unfair advantage.”
This season begins with guests in lockdown answering questions from their own homes.
“We do pre-record, so if we have a moment where it really does go off the rails, or the NBN goes down, we can just pause and regroup.”
“That happens even when there’s five in the studio”
Nor is he particularly fazed at the prospect of too many guests speaking at the one time. Most have extensive radio experience.
“It’s definitely an occupational hazard, but that happens even when there’s five in the studio and everyone dives for the same question. We’re going to sort of start with a pretty experienced line-up for our first episode,” he continues.
“I was talking to Sam Pang who does radio, and at the moment they’re all in different suburbs. I guess they just know each other’s rhythms.
“Hopefully they can read when to speak and when to shut up.”
Joining Pang and Ed Kavalee in the first episode are show favourites Kitty Flanagan, Marty Sheargold, and Urzila Carlson. Guests have already held lockdown rehearsals.
“We had a bit of a hit out a week or so ago, where I was in the studio at the Como and we had our contestants at home. And from Marty Sheargold who still appears to be on dial-up, it worked pretty well. It was a different vibe but the essence of the show was still there. We’re still having fun and it was great to get the band back together.”
“We hope we can have some interesting guests from lockdown from the other side of the world”
But there’s also an unexpected upside to the changes for the show which usually includes a guest quizmaster. Suddenly there’s a chance to include international guests on camera too.
“That’s the plan but don’t hold me to that. But we hope we can have some interesting guests from lockdown from the other side of the world,” he confirms.
Gleisner is continuing to work in lockdown with his Working Dog team.
“I meet online with Robin & Santo, every weekday morning, and we spend a couple of hours tossing around ideas, which is what we would be doing in the office. Those are obviously projects for over the horizon. No one quite knows how long we’re going to be in this lockdown for.”
“There’s plenty of ways to still enjoy news of the week.”
But he also promises COVID-19 won’t dominate all the questions when the news-based quiz returns.
“It’s so dominating our news cycle but there’s plenty of ways to still enjoy news of the week. Now that celebrities have discovered TikTok there’s no shortage of clips,” says Gleisner.
“I know we’ll miss the live audience. It’s fun interacting with them on the night and hearing their reaction to what goes on again. But we’re just grateful that we’re going to get to do the show and excited to be back.”
8:30pm (ish) Monday on 10.