SLOW BURNER

Com­edy panel show Have You Been Pay­ing At­ten­tion? strug­gled at first, but now it’s a firm favourite with Chan­nel 10 view­ers

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY TV - COLIN VICK­ERY

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.”

Chan­nel Ten’s

Have You Been Pay­ing At­ten­tion?

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