My cabinet: ABC TV / Melbourne
Right on cue
Behind the camera trained on TV presenter Charlie Pickering stands a multi-talented team who ensure that ‘The Weekly’, Australia’s lively news round-up, is well researched, informative and, most of all, funny.
It’s a busy afternoon at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s HQ in Melbourne, where production staff are preparing for the season eight premiere of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering. For the first time in two years it will be taped in front of a live studio audience. “The nerves are coming back; they’d subsided a bit in the past few years,” says the programme’s affable host.
The Weekly airs once a week, presenting audiences with a pacey half-hour round-up of current affairs. The format sees desk-bound Pickering deliver an opening piece to camera, offering his take on the news, which is peppered with jokes. “The show is designed to make people laugh first and foremost,” says Pickering, acknowledging that news in the past two years has been particularly heavy. “Hopefully, though, they’ll learn something along the way.”
When it first aired in 2015, Australia did not have much in the way of news commentary built around a single person. Critics have called it Australia’s answer to US programme The Daily Show but there are differences. While many satire programmes target younger audiences on comedy networks, The Weekly airs on the public broadcaster with a charter to appeal to both young and old. It also assesses news at a slower pace. “We’re not stuck in a 24-hour news cycle,” says Pickering. “We have a week, so we can process things differently, see the whole story.” He might be the face of the programme but delivering it would not be possible without the skills and hard work of more than 50 people, including writers, researchers, producers and camera operators. As 20 of them file in for their photo, it’s clear that they’re a nimble team, with executive producer Chris Walker even working from London.
“I have the weird job of taking all of this teamwork and giving it to the audience when the red lights are on,” says Pickering. “It’s an absolute team effort. I’ve never thought that what I do is more important than what anyone else does.” After a moment’s pause, he adds with a cheeky grin, “Just don’t ask anyone else.”
The Cabinet (From left to right)
Scott Abbot Senior writer “Helps find the laughs in hard news.”
Nick Maxwell, Writer and producer.
Nathan Dalton, Editor.
Stephen Hunter, Socials writer and producer.
Lizzie McKenzie, Supervising production manager,“Keeps everyone organised and budgets on track.”
Daniel O’Sullivan, Field producer.
Caroline Kowalski, Production co-ordinator.
Before his TV career and a decade doing stand-up, he almost practised law after graduating. “My parents weren’t happy with me turning my back on law. They’ve only recently stopped worrying about me.”
Karolina Surawski, Production assistant.
Scott Burgess, Editor.
Sacha Payne, Senior news producer.
Karla Arnall, Guest producer.
Jon Casimir, Managing director of Guesswork Television.
Ed Giles, Field producer.
Michiko Smith, Supervising producer,“Responsible for the graphics, music and edit.”
Julia Holmes, Series producer,“Oversees the creative process.”
Chris Doherty, Editor.
Rob Hunter, Writer and producer.
Kirstin McKenzie, Associate producer.
Matilda Dorman, Script verifier.
Kellie Marr, Associate producer.