Q&A returns for 2019 with new format



ABC TV’s Monday night public discussion program Q&A will return in 2019 but with a brand-new format.

5542936-3x2-940x627Keen to expand the program’s audience, ABC producers will switch Q&A to a “talk show” format hosted by Tony Jones but with a “sidekick” in the form of a Morrison Government Minister or MP.

ABC spokesperson Mundy Conphrens told The Bug the innovative format would attract new viewers while also addressing perceptions that the program had an anti-government slant.

“We have been shooting secret trial episodes over the Christmas-New Year break,” Mr Conphrens said.

“It was the only time we had to test the new show and, for a change, we interrupted Tony Jones – on holidays. So that was great fun for all the crew and guests.

“The trial episodes of the new format tested very well with the live studio audiences whose members were required to sign confidentiality agreements about the new format.”

Mr Conphrens said the ABC had “totally re-thought” the whole Q&A concept.

“For instance, in addition to a designated government sidekick who can interrupt Tony’s interruptions, we will change the way our special guests and experts appear.

qanda talk show pyne“The guests who now sit together as panel members will appear individually for 10 minutes each, as if they were talk-show guests, and be exposed to audience questions and Tony’s interruptions.

“While we plan to rotate government sidekicks we’ve found a few stand-out performers, like Defence Minister Christopher Pyne (pictured).

“He really took to the role and we had a ball shooting that trial episode.

“But the big surprise was Tasmania Senator Eric Abetz (main picture above). He really grabbed the role with both hands and ran with it.

“It was very surprising how funny he was in bouncing off Tony and his interruptions.

“He showed he had a real sense of humour that was always hidden by the previous format,” Mr Conphrens said.

Senator Abetz told The Bug the new format was a chance for viewers to see a different side to him.

“I like to think that I have a good sense of humour,” Senator Abetz said.

“I remember as a child being told of something my Uncle Otto apparently always said: You can’t spell slaughter without ‘laughter’.

“I think that’s very true, and I must say I enjoy a good laugh. On the night of the Tasmanian state election in March last year I laughed really hard when it was clear Labor was losing.

“I nearly wet myself when it became obvious The Greens had done very badly and I almost shat myself when the Jacqui Lambie Network failed to win a single seat,” Senator Abetz said, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

Mr Conphrens said the new “talk-show” format for Q&A gave producers added flexibility.

qand entry jb“For example, in a trial episode with former foreign minister Julie Bishop as government sidekick, we had a great time using Tony’s entrance to poke fun at her well-known penchant for fashionable and expensive footwear (pictured).

“It’s that sort of stuff we just couldn’t do under the old format,” he said.