Know your news
Ten’s new quiz show Have You Been Paying Attention asks its contestants if they’re up to speed with what’s been happening in the world. Guy Davis speaks with its quizmaster and host Tom Gleisner.
An attention span is a tough thing to keep in shape these days, what with the sheer volume of information bombarding us around the clock.
Increasingly it seems it’s easier to hold on to trivial bits of information than retain some knowledge about what’s actually going in the world.
That’s what makes Ten’s new quiz show Have You Been Paying Attention, the latest project from the Working Dog team, such a devilish challenge.
“We’re basically reviewing the week’s news in a quiz format,” show host Tom Gleisner said.
“And if you’re even vaguely into news, you can get totally overwhelmed by the number of things that have happened, so it’s interesting to find out what people have retained.”
Of course, entertainment is pretty high on the show’s agenda, so rather than rope in five newsreaders for its weekly panel, Have You Been Paying Attention selects five comedians and entertainers, with Gleisner recruiting familiar colleagues such as Ed Kavalee, Sam Pang and Jane Kennedy, and fresh faces such as Troy Kinne and Rachel Corbett to cross- examine about the week’s events.
It’s an idea that has its origins in a radio show Gleisner did with Pang and Working Dog cohort Santo Cilauro during last year’s Olympic Games.
“Each day we did an Olympics- themed quiz where I would throw out questions and fun, so we worked up a television version and took it to Ten a few months ago, and it went from there.”
Striking the right balance between serious news and lighter topics is important, and Gleisner admits while the show doesn’t want to stump its stars with tough questions, it doesn’t want to go easy either.
“The idea is to have fun but we do want the right answers,” he said. “Otherwise people would be screaming, ‘ How stupid are these people?’ at the TV, which is not the idea.
Gleisner: “The idea is obviously to have fun but we do want the right answers. Otherwise people would be screaming, ‘ How stupid are these people?’ at the TV.”
Gleisner admits he has it relatively easy as the host.
“It’s not too arduous,” he said. “When you’ve got five great contestants, it’s really just up to me to ask the questions and get out of the way.”
Have You Been Paying Attention is just one of the many productions Working Dog has been busily developing, with future projects ranging from a politically- themed play called The Speechmaker making its Melbourne Theatre Company premiere next year to a 10th anniversary update of the satirical travel guide to the fictional nation of Moldavia.
There’s also Utopia, a 2014 ABC comedy about “the obsession Australian politics seems to have with building big things”.
“We wrote it before the last federal election but something we noticed during that time, from both sides of politics, was a lot of talk about building everything from fast trains to the largest dam in the world,” Gleisner said. “We think it’s important for comedy to look at the bigger issues of life.”
Have You Been Paying Attention, Ten, Sunday, 7pm