‘We Watch It So You Don’t Have To’: How The Cheap Seats Is Changing Up The News Of The Week

Each week Tim McDonald and Melanie Bracewell take a look at the news of the week you might have missed.

Chatting to 10 play via Zoom, Tim and Mel reflected on the first six episodes of the show so far.

“We think Channel 10 doesn’t know about it yet,” Tim joked. “We’re in a very small studio, I think they forgot about it, so as long as they keep forgetting I think we’ll keep going.”

Rather than taking a look back at the biggest stories of the week, The Cheap Seats gives you a look back at the week that was via some of the moments you might have missed.

From awkward weatherman banter to the scintillating coverage on the prices of cucumbers, Tim, Mel and the team pour through hours and hours of news footage to find the glittering gems.

“The motto is ‘we watch it so you don't have to’,” Tim explained. “I know the news is really bleak and depressing at the moment but if you watch The Cheap Seats we'll show you some things that you won’t have seen that hopefully puts a smile on your face.”

Mel added, "I don't think it's very good for you to ingest the amount of news we have to watch. I have to watch like every breakfast show at two-times the speed.”

“Most of our friends in lockdown are going, ‘What are you watching on Netflix?’” Tim said, “and we’re like, ‘We’re watching NSW press conferences and Tasmanian news. Mel and I spend the whole week watching pretty much every bit of news that exists.”

With dedicated 24-hour news channels, state news, regional news and even international morning shows offering up gold each week, the team have a lot of content to cover, though Mel is the first to admit that her home of New Zealand isn’t usually as hectic.

“We’ve discovered there’s a difference between state news,” Tim said. “Sydney and Melbourne it’s all lockdown, cases and the vaccine. In the Gold Coast, I think one of the lead stories was a portal on fire. So there’s a different level of news in the states.

“Because we’ve done all that work during the week, we’ve found some great stuff people haven’t seen before, so we just can’t wait to share it with people,” he continued.

With so much content to work with, the pair fire off joke after joke throwing to multiple clips from across the country, with many segments finding a viral life on social media.

“We’re not actively thinking, ‘What piece of content is going to be amazing on TikTok’ it’s just that thinks like TikTok have informed people’s viewing habits,” Mel said.

“People’s attention spans are so low, I am guilty of it as well. I’ll be playing Candy Crush, watching TV and cooking at the same time. I can’t possibly just do one thing at once! I guess what we find entertaining as low-attention-span millennials, hopefully, people who enjoy things like TikTok also enjoy our show.”

Tim added, “The test in my house is how quickly my partner reaches for her phone and starts scrolling Instagram while watching a TV show.”

And while they get a lot of joy out of the gaffes of the week, the pair admitted they’re walking a dangerous line hosting a show all about making mistakes on TV.

“We have made fun of so many people for so many different things that we have to be, like, almost bulletproof in our approach,” Mel said.

“Mel is right,” Tim added, “we’re making fun of all these gaffes and slip-ups, we have to be pitch-perfect because otherwise, if there’s a show that’s about The Cheap Seats gaffes, we’ll be right in the firing line.”

“I guess our approach Is, anyone we’re making fun of, we’re not saying like, ‘This person misspoke therefore they’re a bad person,” Mel continued.

“It’s just kind of acknowledging how human we are and how interesting it is that, when there’s a person whose whole job is to do something or present information, when they mess up it is inherently funny.”

“And all of them, no doubt, they’re doing things that Mel and I couldn’t do,” Tim agreed. “All those live press conferences that go for an hour every single day, Mel and I aren’t even up at 11am so, to us it’s amazing that they even do it but by no means are we having a go at them.

The pair thought back to their own blunders recalling Mel’s now-infamous mispronunciation of Queensland premier Anastasia Palecek’s last name.

“Mel goes, ‘I reckon she’s spelled it wrong’,” Tim remembered as the pair burst out laughing.

But that wasn’t Mel’s only issue with names. The very next episode she turned to her co-host and called him Tom.

“That was…. Oh man, it was…. It’s been a nightmare,” Mel said, laughing again. “I think it’s getting used to things like autocue and being on the ball and-“

“And the name of your co-host,” Tim jumped in.

“But I guess the thing is,” Mel continued, “these guys know that it will make entertaining television so, when we did the rehearsal for that show… I was like, ‘I don’t know how to say that name’ and Tim was like, ‘NO ONE tell her’. Okay! We’ll see how we go.”

“That’s the level of our show,” Tim joked, “a lot of other shows have fact-checkers and a research team and legit the level we’re at is ‘No one look into that because I think it’ll be more fun.’”

The Cheap Seats airs Tuesday nights after Australian Survivor on 10 and 10 play