'We Have Nothing To Lose': How 'The Betoota Advocate Presents' Tackles Australian Controversies

The Betoota Advocate's Editor At Large Errol Parker and Editor Clancy Overall spoke to 10 Play about their new series now streaming on Paramount+.

Over four episodes, Clancy and Errol will explore Australia's past through the lens of some of our wildest controversies. The first episode, which investigates the Hillsong church's rise and fall, premiered on Paramount+ on June 14, with new episodes dropping weekly.

The pair, who have run the small, regional newspaper since 2014 and have amassed a huge following of readers across social media, said that they had considered expanding into the world of television but wanted to find the right idea and partners to make it come to life.

"Basically it was an idea we would have liked to have done in a podcast format or something like that, all these amazing stories to tell," Clancy explained, "but when there are people around saying they want to work with us in television we said let's make it a show."

Initially, the pair said they had chosen multiple stories focused on Australia's sports history. "But we realised we couldn't do four episodes about sport," Errol added. "We had to find a good cross-section of Australia."

"And when you look at the sports things we've done, it isn't exactly sporty," Clancy added. "It's a niche thing that's happened in the arena of sport [and] we went from there. What are those other moments in Australian history that are so awkward or shocking that we don't talk about, or so scandalous that it implicates too many people."

Across The Betoota Advocate Presents, Clancy and Errol investigate the Hillsong story and the downfall of the church and its founder Brian Houston, the Super League war with media moguls Murdoch and Packer at the helm, Fine Cotton, the strangest racehorse controversy in our nation’s history and the heat and violence of the Cronulla Riots.

"Paramount certainly have their head around Australian content but, at the same time, they also don’t care about keeping certain people happy in this country," Clancy continued. "There’s no stake. They were the best to work with for this, they don’t answer to the political or media class so we could have a bit of fun with it.

"The stories we’ve told wouldn’t have gotten made with any other media organisations. Certainly any of the ‘families’," he said.

While others might be concerned about taking on some of Australia's most controversial chapters in history, the Betoota office was the perfect one to dive in head first, "Because we have nothing to lose," Errol said. "We aren't part of any club or cabal, we're still on the outside of most things."

"We don't have any assets they can take from us," Clancy agreed.

"Yes, that's the thing. You design it so you deliberately never earn any money, then they can't take anything from you," Errol added.

But it also felt like the perfect time to inspect the past, as Clancy explained after three years of "makeshift media consumption" we became used to during and immediately following COVID, everyone was looking to escape the contemporary.

"We wanted to shine a light on the character of Australians," Clancy continued. "We always talk about the spirit of Australia but no one really talks about the character. Australians are such characters and I don't really mean that by 'larrikin' either.

"There's just a lot of funny things that have happened because people are funny down here."

Initially, the pair admit they had planned to do a series on Schapelle Corby. "But we thought right or wrong, guilty or innocent, she's done her time," Clancy said. "What we're actually focusing on are the blokes that never did any time. They got away, they died rich. That's a better story to tell."

Produced by Warner Bros. Australia for Paramount+, The Betoota Advocate Presents is available to stream now on Paramount+.