Spotlight on Guesswork Television

Guesswork Television has produced some of Australia's favourite shows including Rosehaven, Hard Quiz, The Weekly, Deadloch & Please Like Me.

Guesswork Television, which is part of the Token Group owned by Kevin Whyte, has produced some of Australia’s favourite shows including Rosehaven, Hard Quiz, The Weekly, Deadloch and Please Like Me.

Production company name?
Guesswork Television

When was the company founded?
Guesswork started in 2012 but it is part of the Token Group has been active in TV production since the late 1990s, mainly through our work with Roving Enterprises.

Where are you based and which states did you film in for 22 / 23 productions?
We have offices in Collingwood in Melbourne and Surry Hills in Sydney. In 22/23 we shot mainly in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, but Queerstralia managed to get pretty much everywhere else. We also worked with Graham Norton’s company, So Television, to produce a Hannah Gadsby special in London last year.

How many full-time equivalent staff and how many does it expand to during production?
We have a core team of eight plus support from across the Token Group – it blows into the hundreds when we have multiple shows running like we did in 2022 with Deadloch, Queerstralia, The ABC Of and the Thinkative productions Hard Quiz and The Weekly With Charlie Pickering.

What is your ownership model and who are key principals?
Guesswork is part of Token Group which includes the artist management companies Token Artists and Creative Representation and the touring business, Token Events. The group is owned by Kevin Whyte (pictured, right). Thinkative is also part of the family and that is co-owned with Chris Walker and Charlie Pickering.

Guesswork principally collaborates with Token Group clients to develop their original ideas.

Describe the genres you specialise in for production?
Our creative direction is led by the tribe of artists we work with, so we just blindly follow them into whatever is next and then reverse engineer it into a strategy.

Having said that, comedy is home turf. Our scripted shows, led by Tanya Phegan, are all funny but with compelling and immersive storytelling. We have a strong stand-up heritage so we love studio shows with a live audience and we have made a lot of comedy specials alongside our touring business. Having Jon Casmir in the team to help us make distinctive docs like Queerstralia is a real privilege.

What have been some of your notable credits and with which broadcasters / streamers?
The Weekly & Hard Quiz (ABC), Please Like Me (ABC/Pivot), Rosehaven (ABC/SundanceTV), Frayed (ABC/Sky/HBO Max), Queerstralia (ABC), The ABC Of (ABC), Deadloch (Prime Video), Get Krackin (ABC) and countless stand up specials including Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and specials for Netflix, Prime Video, Stan, ABC and Paramount Plus.

What’s coming up on your slate and how many projects are in active development?
We have new seasons of Hard Quiz and The Weekly to make and we are hoping to see a second season of Deadloch. We are well advanced on a new half hour comedy and an adult animation as well as several scripts about to be pitched, which we have developed with support from VicScreen. 2023 was a huge year for development and we now have the scripts to show for it. We are also developing a new talent-led factual series for one of the broadcasters, which we are hoping to shoot in Q3.

Do you receive unsolicited material, what are you looking for, how should people pitch projects?
We don’t look at unsolicited material from outside of our clients and collaborators. We have a very particular model. Many of our clients work with other producers, but we only really look at ideas created by or for our clients, who may then bring in collaborators from outside.

What change would you most like to see when it comes to commissions?
At a government level we need to see a quota regime and terms of trade that give Australian program makers a real chance to build sustainable businesses to support and develop the content that we all want to see more of. It would also be great to see a clearer path for producing scripted shows that are principally for Australian audiences. Making shows for the world is exciting but there will be a cultural gap if we stop making shows for ourselves – at the moment you can’t really finance scripted TV here without an international partner.

Everyone is trying their best to get great shows to screen but the headwinds are really windy at the moment and the structural challenges will need structural solutions. Also, we would prefer it if no one passed on any of our shows.

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