Have You Been Paying Attention? welcomes back contestants and a crowd

TV ratings have you been paying attention hybpa

‘2020 began like a bad Zoom meeting, 2021 will be the Year of the Asterix’

Have You Been Paying Attention? returns to Channel 10 on Monday, 3 May at 8.40pm on 10 and 10 Play. The Working Dog format will now steer 10 through the remaining weeks of survey until the end of November where it has usually ranked as 10’s most-watched show most weeks.

Each week the three guests (plus Ed Kavalee and Sam Pang returning in their permanent seats on the panel) will be quizzed on both the week’s top news stories – some serious and more than a few frivolous.

Mediaweek caught up with Have You Been Paying Attention? quizmaster Tom Gleisner ahead of him keeping score for the new season of the show, as a more normal production is expected this year following the Covid-19 pandemic. But HYBPA? is not your normal TV show which is why it is much-loved.

TT: Last year, like most productions, Have You Been Paying Attention? was impacted by Covid, what was that experience like and will it be disrupted much this year?

TG: Our 2020 series began like a bad Zoom meeting. Everyone talking over the top of each other, internet drop-outs, family pets misbehaving in the background. (On the plus side, I was able to occasionally mute Sam Pang). But we pretty quickly came to terms with the technical challenges. Our Channel 10 crew did an amazing job. Connecting a contestant’s buzzer in New Zealand to a control room in Australia called for real ingenuity. I am hopeful that this year will be a little more like normal. We think we can have our contestants back in the studio, along with a small audience. That said, I think 2021 will be the Year of the Asterix. Every planned event has the phrase “subject to Covid” hovering next to it.

Tom Gleisner Photo credit: Tina Smigielski

Covid dominated the news cycle last year, was having a show based on the news cycle a good thing or a bad thing?

I remember we did often say “let’s try and find a few non-pandemic related questions”. But it proved rather difficult. It was simply the story of 2020.

Thank goodness for the US election and reality TV providing a few Covid-free options.

The show seems to go from strength to strength – what is the key to retaining an audience and keeping the content fresh?

Our biggest asset is the fact that the news cycle refreshes itself every week – so we never feel that our subject matter is getting stale. Having guest quizmasters is another way of maintaining freshness. Then there’s small innovations, such as getting people involved in a news story to record a question to camera.

Could the show ever work with more than one episode a week? 

I guess you could do a daily version of HYBPA? but the show would struggle if it was a slow news week. I think a weekly hit-out suits us best. It also gives you that feeling of being asked about a story that happened several days ago where you might remember the basics but have forgotten the precise details. That’s part of our show’s challenge – and you wouldn’t get it within a 24 hour cycle.

What are your goals for 2021?

To be part of another successful series of HYBPA? We never take the show, or our audience, for granted. And we always want to make sure that each series is better than the last. Apart from HYBPA? I look forward to working with my colleagues Rob (Sitch) and Santo (Cilauro) on a few other writing projects. On a personal level, I would like to have my passport stamped somewhere exotic.

Main photo: Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee with Tom Gleisner on Have You Been Paying Attention?

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