Waste Not Want Not

Press release time!

ABC continues the War on Waste in new podcast

Wendy Harmer joins Craig Reucassel to build the War on Waste community

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 — Craig Reucassel lit up Australia’s televisions with the War on Waste series. Now he’s joined by Wendy Harmer (Mornings on ABC Radio Sydney) to continue the fight against Australia’s problem with waste with a new fortnightly podcast.

How can the average household reduce the amount of food they throw out? Do plastic bags really get recycled? And how much food is being wasted before it gets to the supermarket shelves? Picking up where the TV show ends, Craig and Wendy combine forces to bring the answers, and what we can do about it, to even more Australians.

For Craig Reucassel, the podcast was the perfect way to continue what the TV series began. “I’m so glad we can keep the War on Waste conversation going in podcast form and I’m delighted Wendy Harmer is coming on board. During the 14 episodes we’ll be continuing the discussion about fixing up our waste, especially by learning from our listeners and the many experts we’ve found along the way.”

Wendy Harmer is preparing to take on the fight. “I’m joining Craig Reucassel in his War on Waste as his trusty foot soldier on this fabulous podcast,” said Wendy. “There will be lots of great resources – interviews, information and clever ideas – to help turn intent into action. This is a war we must win for the sake of the planet! So, you know, no biggie or anything.”

Episode one of the podcast is now available, and tackles the many creative ways to reduce food waste around the home. Craig speaks to “waste warrior” Sabine Spindler from Cornersmith, who runs waste reduction workshops on pickling, syrups and getting maximum taste out of your scraps. Craig and Wendy also check in with the War on Waste TV show executive who reveals some of the curly topics left out of the TV program. Plus, a handy how-to for a DIY “secret weapon” in the War on Waste. Tip: Don’t throw out your jam jars.

Subscribers will also enjoy interviews with waste warrior Costa from Gardening Australia and loads more.

Is this comedy? Well, not really – that’s why we didn’t bother reviewing The War on Waste. But it is mildly (slightly?) interesting as an example of the way The Chaser are firmly expanding their media empire beyond the confines of comedy. There may have been a few people who thought The Checkout was a comedy about consumer affairs when it first started, but it’s been very clear for a long while now that it’s consumer affairs first, stuff designed to make you laugh somewhere much further down the list – and The War on Waste is simply more of the same.

In fact, these days it’s getting harder to find Chaser projects that are meant to be funny: The Checkout and The War on Waste aren’t exactly laugh-getters first and foremost, and while they have their morning show on Triple M (11am-1pm) that’s clearly comedy (there’s even good old-fashioned sketches on there), rumour has it they’re at least partway involved in a forthcoming ABC arts-related show set for the end of the year. As for their next “straight” television comedy series… yeah, we’ll let you know when we hear anything there because we’re pretty reluctant to file Media Circus under anything close to comedy after last year. At least Chaz is keeping busy doing good work on the weekly political series Planet America.

So the Chaser have all but taken over light entertainment on the ABC – is anyone really surprised? After all, they’ve always been up-front about claiming Working Dog as role models, and they were the ones who established the idea that a comedy group can build a lasting career in television if only they take control and create their own projects. Heck, Working Dog are still making good television: we’ve got no complaints if people want to follow in their footsteps.

… well, maybe one tiny complaint. For all Working Dog’s range when it comes to projects (remember Pictures of You? A River Somewhere?), they always bring it back to comedy. It may not always be great comedy – Pacific Heat, Wednesday nights on 11 – but it’s very rare indeed for them not to have at least one show on the go that’s designed purely to make people laugh.

The Chaser, on the other hand, often seem to give the impression comedy is something they can take or leave. They’re constantly putting out product – we haven’t even mentioned their magazine, or that play some of them are going to be appearing in, or their Giant Dwarf events – and a lot of it is funny, but it never really seems like comedy is at the core of what they’re trying to do. Put another way, in this day and age in Australia the ultimate sign of comedy commitment is putting out a sitcom. Working Dog have made what, five? As for The Chaser? Stuck on zero.

That’s a bit harsh, of course, but what did you expect? If Working Dog have inspired The Chaser, so too has their mentor Andrew Denton, a man who started out doing comedy but eventually wandered off into the safer but less interesting world of tear-jerking interviews and game show hosting. And why not? Supposedly your tastes change as you get older. You decide that laughter isn’t as important as bags of money. You start lecturing people about the important issues in life. You become an expert.

Worst case scenario, you start up a blog.

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3 Comments

  • Billy C says:

    My understanding and this is third or fourth hand information is that the Chaser have for many years wanted to do scripted things but couldn’t get them up.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    There’s been a few interviews where they’ve talked about wanting to do a sitcom but haven’t quite gotten around to it. Supposedly in the (relatively) early days when they were much more tight-knit a couple of members wanted to and a couple really didn’t so they never made it their next project.

  • simbo says:

    Well some of them are definately taking up “legit” acting as a side-career at the Ensemble theatre (Reucassel and Taylor were in “Jack of Hearts” last year and Hansen is joining them this year in “Neville’s Island”). Though sitcom and acting are different things.

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