A new show aims to protect consumers and have fun along the way, writes Anooska Tucker-Evans. THE CHECKOUT Thursday, 8pm,
LIFE has come full circle for ABC TV presenter Kirsten Drysdale.
As a teenager, the star of Hungry Beast and The Gruen Transfer had a part-time job manning the register at her local Target store in Mackay. Now the 28-year-old finds herself again behind the checkout – but, thankfully, one of a different kind.
The Checkout is ABC’s latest consumer affairs series, which aims to identify ways Australians are being taken advantage of, manipulated and ripped off and help them make smarter spending choices.
‘‘All these years of work experience and I’m back to where I started,’’ Drysdale jokes. ‘‘My parents are very happy about this checkout job though.’’
The series from The Chaser’s production company Giant Dwarf and Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder tackles everything from consumer rights to consumer behaviour and psychology.
While the topic may seem a little dull, Drysdale says the team, including The Chaser’s Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel, has been working hard to ensure it is anything but.
‘‘That is one of the biggest challenges of the show,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s definitely a factual program but because we’re trying to make it entertaining we will be a little bit cheeky and, where we can, have a bit of fun.
‘‘ The Chaser guys obviously have the comedy edge to bring to things and then we’re working with some really great directors and graphics people who’ll come up with a way that will make it visually engaging.’’
While Drysdale insists audiences will be entertained by the end result, she says getting there has been, at times, a long and tedious process.
The bane of her existence in recent weeks has been tackling the new Telco Consumer Protection Code – all 164 pages of legislative jargon – that aims to help people when selecting mobile phone plans.
‘‘That’s a massive challenge because you just hear that and it’s so boring that you just kind of want to switch off immediately,’’ she says. ‘‘We kind of made a rule that I’m not allowed to even call that story the Telco Consumer Protection Code.’’
Also testing her mental strength is a story about superfoods.
‘‘I’m literally reading scientific papers and that’s quite tedious so you’ve just got to pull out the bits that are interesting and you can think of a way to make it engaging for the audience. That’s always a great hook to get into the drier stuff that is important but isn’t necessarily as sexy.’’
While Drysdale admits she has, at times, felt like banging her head against a brick wall with all the bureaucratic jargon, she says some benefit has come from the process.
‘‘I feel like I’m retaining information quite well,’’ she says, with a laugh.
‘‘It’s actually a bit sad that I can go, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s page 29 of the TCP Code out of the 164 pages’. But, hopefully, I will have forgotten that in a month because I’ll be reading some kind of other boring piece of legislation to replace it.’’
The ultimate reward though, Drysdale says, will be having the viewers embrace the show and even participating in it by contributing their own complaints and tips through the show’s website.
‘‘We’ve found new angles to things, we’ve found new information, we’ve found quite fun ways of presenting it and I hope it’s something the audience find entertaining.’’