“Politicians were very hesitant about Kitchen Cabinet”

In 2012 a crazy idea to interview politicians while they cooked was a hard sell for Annabel Crabb. Not anymore.

Since 2012 ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet has seen host Annabel Crabb interviewing more than 40 politicians from Prime Ministers to backbenchers.

But when the show originally began it took some persuasion and arm-twisting to get her subjects to warm to the idea of baking and conversation in their own home. After all the format was nothing like an interview on 7:30 or Insiders.

Now in Season 7, there are even some politicians lining up for the privilege.

“It’s much easier now than it used to be. In the first season when nobody had ever seen the show before, it was my stupid, crazy idea and all of the politicians were very hesitant about it,” Crabb tells TV Tonight.

“I had to talk Penny Wong (Ed: her very first episode) into doing it and she was giving me the eyebrow!

“But now people can go back and see we don’t shoot it to make people look like idiots. We don’t shoot it to make them look bad at cooking. We shoot it to be as revealing as possible about the person. I am in their home so I am polite, but I’m also quite nosy and I take full advantage of being able to ask the sorts of things in a friendly conversation in someone’s kitchen that you could never ask somebody if you get a studio.

“So you wouldn’t say ‘Tell me about your failed first marriage’ or ‘Tell me about being called a potato all the time?’ You couldn’t say to Lydia Thorpe ‘Who are you friends with? Do you have any friends?’

“There’s just a level of directness that you can employ when you’re having a friendly conversation with somebody that you can’t when you’re at loggerheads with them. At the heart of it, journalists and politicians do not have the same goals. We want them to tell us stuff that they don’t want anyone to know yet.”

This week Crabb speaks with ALP’s Linda Burney, while episodes with Former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe and Labor Minister Anika Wells are still to come.

Crabb believes the informal insights are relevant to the electorate.

“This format is a bit of a dropping of the weapon. You can find out stuff that is revelatory about who they are, their priorities in politics, what their experiences have been in their life, that actually gives you a really good set of clues as to why they behave the way they do in the public eye.”

While those tactics have recently been employed by other shows, such as an at home interview with Scott Morrison by 60 Minutes, similar approaches don’t faze her.

“It’s like any format. There’s plenty of room for everybody.

“Karl Stefanovic did an interview with Lidia Thorpe a few weeks ago, which was a terrific interview. But I mean, mine’s better!{” she laughs.

“I hate it when people get sniffy about (interviewing style)… I do not have that attitude at all. I’m always interested in interesting interviews, and I never (think people are) copying. The only people that really say that sort of stuff are in Year Five or under!”

Kitchen Cabinet screens 8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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