Speers welcomes format change

ABC TV’s David Speers says he is ecstatic about plans for an extended version of the Sunday morning political analysis program Insiders in the lead-up to the 2022 federal election.

The ABC has announced that the weekly public affairs interview and panel discussion program will be expanded from 60 minutes to 90 minutes when it resumes next year.

“While most people here at the ABC have quietly welcomed the news, I am genuinely excited by it because it will give me much, much more time and therefore many, many more opportunities to interrupt people on the show,” Speers told me in an exclusive interview in the ABC’s Melbourne studio’s canteen.

Interrupting my first question (main picture), Speers said he had been pushing for the extended time ever since he replaced Barrie Cassidy (pictured) as host of the program in 2020.

“I remember interrupting Barrie during his emotional farewell remarks to ABC staff following his final program in 2019 to say that Insiders should be at least 90 minutes if not two hours long,” he said.

“As far back as my audition for the hosting gig months before Barrie hosted his final Insiders, I well remember interrupting questions from the executive producers to make the same point.

“I interrupted their questioning to say that in my opinion the only negative aspect of the program was the constraint the 60-minute format would place on me and my ability to interrupt interviewees and panel members.

“So I’m really looking forward to finally having that extra 30 minutes in 2022 that will let me interrupt more people more often.”

Speers interrupted my second question to tell me that the ABC was yet to determine what new elements might be added to the Insiders’ agenda to fill the extra 30 minutes.

“But I sincerely hope I will be able to undertake a lot more live in-studio interviews or even pre-recorded ones so that I have a lot more opportunities to interrupt more guests.

“Most people would not be aware but I interrupt even pre-recorded segments like Talking Pictures even if viewers can’t hear my contributions.

“I just do it for three reasons. First, to keep in practice so that my interruption skills don’t deteriorate during the eight to 10 minutes when Mike Bowers is talking; second, because I can; and third, because I can’t help myself,” Speers said before interrupting our interview to interrupt another conversation between two strangers at the next table.