The show has built up an audience of fans who love tuning in to see Quizmaster Tom Gleisner joined by a rotating roster of hilarious panellists including regulars Ed Kavalee and Sam Pang as they skewer the biggest headlines of the week.
“Quiz shows have been a part of the TV landscape forever,” Tom told 10 play, “but a topical news quiz show has a particular appeal because it really does give you a taste of the week’s headlines.
“We’re sometimes told by people that our show is how they get their news, which is… truly disturbing and is something we should all be worried about,” he added.
Tom has stood behind the quizmaster podium for almost all of the show’s 200 episodes but isn’t so tempted by the idea of swapping seats with one of the contestants.
“There is a certain lust for power and control that underscores my DNA,” he joked. “I do like the ability to ask the questions… I don’t know how I’d go the other way around.
“Hayley Sproull who hosts the New Zealand version of Have You Been Paying Attention? will also appear as a guest on our show,” Tom added, “so she’s proven that you can do both, I’m just not sure I’m quite up to it.”
Last year, for obvious reasons, the show had to be re-worked with panellists all appearing remotely and replacing the live studio audience with members of the production crew who were able to join Tom on the studio floor.
“It definitely took everybody — both us and probably viewers — a couple of weeks to get our heads around the new format,” Tom said.
“But by the same token, I think people were genuinely grateful that the show was on because either we do it this way or we don’t do it at all and I think we were pleased we were able to get it to air.”
Likening it to a movie with subtitles, Tom said after a while, viewers didn’t even realise the panellists were all in different places and continued to enjoy the show as usual. But for him, having far fewer people in the studio to riff off of was an adjustment.
“It definitely had a different energy. We were lucky enough to have our production crew, people involved with putting the show together were able to come in so it wasn’t in complete silence… apart from when Sam attempted a joke - but no amount of audience would have saved that.”
While the show takes joy cracking jokes at the news of the week, there’s also a gentle roasting of the panel and especially of Tom — mostly from Sam.
“I know sometimes when he’s about to go there because he’s got a certain tell where I go, uh oh here we go… yes, Sam? Whenever he buzzes I brace.
“I often see myself as not so much a host but as a target on our show,” Tom said, adding, “But it’s all done in fun.”
Everyone gets in on the roasting, which is part of what makes the show so hilariously enjoyable to watch, but Tom said it’s easy to do because everyone’s of the mateship between the panellists.
“We’re very careful when someone is new on the show, that they get to know the other contestants because you want it to feel like a comfortable dinner party and not an awkward school speech night,” Tom said.
“The vibe in the room is really important to us, and hopefully it comes across onscreen.”
Thankfully Tom said the plan is to have everyone back in the studio for the next season to join in on the fun.
“But I say, of everything this year, it’s got an asterisk next to it. All being well, we’ll not only have the contestants in the studio but we’ll have an audience back in the room!”
Catch Tom, Ed and Sam when Have You Been Paying Attention? returns Monday nights on 10 and 10 play