Satirical consumer affairs show The Checkout is coming back to the ABC with a new look and new segments. And for the first time since its inception in 2013, it has a new time slot too – Tuesdays, 8pm.
“Viewing habits have changed a lot with videos being watched on many different screens. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is consumers being ripped off,” The Checkout EP and presenter Julian Morrow told Mediaweek a week out from the premiere of the sixth season. Morrow is also a member of the comedy group The Chaser, who have had a self-titled TV show on the ABC.
The past five seasons of The Checkout have aired on Thursday nights, which has proven to be good for the series with it consistently securing good audience numbers. Talking about the change of time slots, Morrow said he did not know how it would impact the number of viewers watching it on TV. “Only time will tell.”
One of the new segments coming to the show is, What To Reject When You Are Expecting. This puts presenter Zoe Norton Lodge’s pregnancy journey in the spotlight. “We thought it would be a good opportunity to take a consumer’s look at the products that get marketed to women who are expecting.”
This season, Morrow will continue to present the F.U. Tube segment and will appear as an actor in other stories. “I appear as the disrespectful butt of their jokes,” he said [Laughs]. “I don’t have my own standalone segment. Between executive producing the show and taking the overall editorial responsibility for it, there’s enough for me to do. I have my fingerprints all over it.”
In his life before The Chaser, Morrow used to work as an employment lawyer. The first season of The Chaser on ABC, which was an election special, came out in 2001.
“Even though I didn’t work in the area of consumer law, it was always of interest to me. So I take an overarching interest in all the stories that we present on The Checkout in terms of looking at what rights the consumers have and how we can be punchy as possible when it comes to calling people out.”
This, Morrow pointed out, involved the production team dealing a lot with ABC’s legal department.
“Between my colleagues and me at The Chaser, we have kept a lot of ABC lawyers in work and therapy over the years,” he joked. “We have always tried to have a robust attitude behind The Chaser and The Checkout, and that means pushing the boundaries of what you can say and do.”
Therefore, Morrow describes his work as a “career of public nuisance”.
Apart from his duties on The Checkout, Morrow is also the co-founder of The Chaser’s production company, Giant Dwarf, which produced the ABC comedy series The Letdown. That show was aired by the public broadcaster in 2017 and has subsequently been picked up Netflix. Along with editing the final episodes of The Checkout, Morrow has his hands full with preparing some behind-the-scenes packages for The Letdown on Netflix. He is also working on producing a web series called Sheilas, which will be about notable Australian women through history. The company has received funds from Screen Australia for the program. “The broader plans about which platform it will go on and how it will be uploaded are still up in the air,” Morrow said.
Asked if fans can expect another The Chaser series this year, Morrow didn’t say no, but did say that all the members of the comedy team have their plates full with different projects at the moment.
The sixth season of The Checkout will be 10 episodes long, with another four episodes of Best Of. The series will premiere on 30 January 2018.
Photo: The Checkout’s Mark Sutton, David Cunningham, Alex Lee, Scott Abbot, Craig Reucassel, Ben Jenkins, Kirsten Drysdale, Julian Morrow and Zoë Norton Lodge