All The News That’s Fit To Paste

Press release round-up!

ABC Mental As… reaches Australian audiences on TV, radio and online and raises $1.47 million for mental health research

It was the week the ABC went dotty and audiences answered the call to support ABC Mental As… On TV 5.9 million Australians tuned in during mental health week and $1.47 million has been raised for mental health research to date.

The biggest cross-platform programming event the ABC has ever held, ABC Mental As… saw the broadcaster start a national conversation about mental health issues and engage its audiences in a very important issue that affects the majority of Australians in some way during their lifetime.

The challenge was to use the ABC’s storytelling resources to lead the community in breaking down some of the stigmas associated with mental illness, raise awareness of those issues and to in the process help raise some much needed funding for mental health research.

The week culminated in the Friday Night Crack Up, a live broadcast that saw some of Australia’s finest entertainers and celebrities from every network band together for this great cause.

The Friday Night Crack Up achieved a combined metro and regional reach of 2 million across ABC and ABC2 while ABC TV Mental Health programming had a combined metro and regional reach of 5.9 million viewers between 5 to 12 October. One in four Australians tuned in to ABC TV during this landmark week of programming. (Source: OzTAM and RegionalTAM)

There’s a lot more after that, but we’re all about the comedy here. Wow, who would have guessed a comedy-based variety show would rate so well? Ok, Daryl Somers for one, but his idea of “comedy-based variety” and the general public’s part company around the time he says he wants to host.

Still, that’s a fairly impressive figure, and while no doubt a lot of the audience drawing power came from the various one-off bits from high profile comedy types (Rob Sitch as Mike Moore, Shaun Micallef and Frances Greenslade, etc) – and having it be the capper to an entire themed week wouldn’t have hurt either – you’d have to think someone somewhere at the ABC is thinking of a way to keep the ball rolling. Compared to pretty much anything else on television, live variety is still relatively cheap; even if all the ABC’s attempts at it in the 21st century have first stunk then sunk, if at first you don’t succeed…


The Chaser team returns to ABC TV this Wednesday at 8.30pm, with a brand new format, The Chaser’s Media Circus, which turns the news game into a game show.

Each week, host Craig Reucassel and two teams of guests dissect the week’s news together with Chas Licciardello, the one-man media brains trust who is a sort of cross between Dickie Knee and Rain Man.

Joining the Media Circus this week for Team Australia are Ben Jenkins (The Checkout), Waleed Aly (The Project) and Andrew Hansen (The Chaser). ASIO has been informed that Alex Lee (The Roast), journalist Ellen Fanning and Chris Taylor (The Chaser) are officially part of Team Evil.

The Chaser’s Media Circus: the news game where everyone loses. Wednesdays at 8.30pm on ABC.

Wow, the more we hear about this the less interested we become. If it didn’t have the Chaser name on it we’d be worried it was shaping up to be The Gruen News; having someone from The Roast on board doesn’t exactly raise our hopes for sparkling satire. Still, The Chaser have been solid comedy performers these last few years. The benefit of the doubt remains in effect.


New series starts Wednesday October 15 at 9.00pm, ABC

Julia Zemiro returns to walk our favourite funny people down memory lane, and back home to their old stomping ground.  With each step uncovering the people, places and events that shaped them into the person we know today.

Shot entirely on location, this nine-part series – six in Australia and three in the UK – features home-grown guests: Dave Hughes; Wendy Harmer; Julia Morris; Nazeem Hussain; Sam Simmons and Stephen Curry. The Home Delivery UK episodes star Bill Bailey, Ross Noble and Ruth Jones.

Julia Zemiro is an interviewer of great charm, wit and depth.  She puts her guests at ease with her genuine curiosity and warmth, and they respond by opening up and sharing parts of their lives not usually revealed to interviewers.   She plays along with her comedic companions in a way that delights and entertains but she is also an astute and sensitive listener, willing to probe and ask the difficult questions. 

Each trip back in time is as different as the performers are themselves. Some revel in returning to place they grew up and may not have seen in years and share happy memories and heart -warming anecdotes. For others, returning to the scenes of their formative years is a more complicated and bittersweet experience.

All guests set off on their ‘day of Delivery’ willing to go deep.  They reveal personal stories from their childhoods to the present day.  They open up about their Mums and Dads, brothers and sisters.  They spill their guts, share their stories both happy and sad and give the viewer real insight into the performer within and the person they are.

The series starts on 15 October with Dave Hughes, followed by Wendy Harmer, Ross Noble, Julia Morris, Bill Bailey, Sam Simmons, Ruth Jones, Nazeem Hussain and finally Stephen Curry.

This one’s a dilly of a pickle. The first series was a bit of a disappointment to us, though it lifted its game as it went along. The big problem seemed to be that it largely relied on the guests’ ability to tell their own stories, rather than being based around a strong interviewer as host. Zemiro’s recent ABC interview with new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi didn’t exactly convince us that she’s been developing her skills in that area, so this could shape up to be a bit more hit and miss than we’d like.

Of course, we’d also like it to be about how the guests developed as comedians, not a bunch of random heart-warming or -wrenching tales of youthful suffering, but it’s from the folks who brought you the blatantly manipulative Enough Rope: even we know you can’t zoom in on those award-winning tears if they’re not there.

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