SURPRISE TV STAR
WHICH HIT SHOW NEARLY GOT THE AXE?
Have You Been Paying Attention? has gone from zero to hero. Two years ago, the Working Dog-produced comedy panel show looked destined for the scrap heap. Now it is one of Channel 10’s most consistent performers.
That success has come after multiple timeslot changes and a major structural revamp.
Channel 10 put HYBPA? into the 7pm Sunday family slot in November 2013, and it stiffed.
The first episode of the Tom Gleisner-hosted show averaged 301,000 viewers nationally. By episode eight, it had been moved to 6pm and scored a dismal 235,000. Comedians Ed Kavalee and Sam Pang were regular panellists with guests including Jane Kennedy, Mick Molloy and Glenn Robbins.
The program came back in February 2014 and did even worse (168,000).
Critics said it was time for Ten to swing the axe. Instead, it was time for a rethink.
“We could see early on that the show had potential, that the people who watched it like it, but there just wasn’t enough of them,” Ten program chief Beverley McGarvey says.
When HYBPA? returned in May 2014 it had doubled in length and been programmed in the Monday 9.30pm timeslot.
“We had miscalculated,” Gleisner says. “Very quickly we came to realise that the show was being strangled by having to be reduced to half an hour.
“Some truly funny material was being chopped out for the sake of the (early evening family) timeslot). The show needed to be longer to be allowed to breathe and to be a little bit more adult.”
Slowly but surely the move to 9.30pm bore fruit. In July 2014, Ten switched it to 8.30pm and that proved to be the game changer. By September it was topping 500,000 viewers.
That ratings growth has continued in 2015. The program topped 700,000 following MasterChef Australia. Friday night repeats can bring that figure to near one million.