Comedy panel show Have You Been Paying Attention? struggled at first, but now it’s a firm favourite with Channel 10 viewers
Have You Been Paying Attention? has gone from zero to hero. Two years ago, the Working Dogproduced comedy panel show looked destined for the scrap heap. Now it is growing into one of Channel 10’s most consistent ratings performers.
That success has come after multiple timeslot changes and a major structural revamp.
Channel 10 put Have You Been Paying Attention? into the 7pm Sunday family slot in November 2013 and it stiffed.
The first episode of the Tom Gleisner-hosted show averaged a measly 301,000 viewers nationally. By episode eight, it had been moved to 6pm and scored a dismal 235,000.
Right from the start 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). It dribbled along for another six episodes showing no signs of improvement.
Working Dog (Gleisner, Rob Sitch, Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh) had made hits The Panel and Thank God You’re Here for Ten but third time wasn’t a charm.
Critics said it was time for Ten to swing the axe. Instead, it was time for a rethink. The show went into hiatus for six weeks.
“We could see early on that the show had potential, that the people who watched it liked it, but there just wasn’t enough of them,” Ten program chief Beverley McGarvey says.
“A lot of shows that do those numbers you do have that (axing) conversation … but because of the pedigree of Working Dog we didn’t consider not continuing with it.”
When it 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 with ratings gains each week. In July 2014, Ten switched it to 8.30pm. By September it was topping 500,000 viewers.
That ratings growth has continued in 2015 with the introduction of guest quiz masters including Gina Liano, Tiffiny Hall and Lee Lin Chin. The program topped 700,000 following MasterChef Australia. Friday night repeats can bring that figure to near one million.
“We knew this was the sort of show that, if we got it right, could run for years,” Gleisner says. “The news is always reinventing itself. It is not like you ever run out of subject matter.”
Have You Been Paying Attention?