Thank God You’re Here:

Co-Creator of Thank God You’re Here, Rob Sitch, writes: Re. “Is Channel Ten meeting its Australian Content standards. Seriously?” (Friday, item 30). Margaret Simons wrote about Thank God You’re Here; “the essence of which is that it does not have a script.” Thank God You’re Here does have a script. Every single scenario is scripted and re-scripted over a period of months and months. The only thing that is unscripted is the response of the performer. Having written films, TV series, books and radio serials I have to say that Thank God You’re Here has proved to be one of the most script intensive creations I have ever been involved with. It proved to be a remarkably complex thing to get right on every level of production. Margaret Simons is not the first person to be mislead by “theatresports” comparisons. I can also understand the frustration in trying to get a reply from the network when you want to get a story written. However everyone is left with a misrepresentation of the creative effort that goes into our show. And given your standing I doubt that it will be disregarded. If this is to be a cornerstone of debate on the subject then the nature of the show deserves to be understood and clarified.

Head of corporate communications for Network Ten, Margaret Fearn, writes: ACMA recognises Thank God You’re Here as partially-scripted drama under the Australian Content Standard. Only the guest’s responses are unscripted. The program’s regular actors follow very tight scripts created by a team of writers who must pre-suppose the directions a guest star might take his or her scenario and, accordingly, they write multiple alternatives; the actors closely adhere to one of these prepared scripts. As with any story, Thank God You’re Here scripts encompass traditional elements including character, plot, theme and narrative structure. With four scenarios per episode plus a group challenge and on-location segment, extensive scripting is required for each week’s program. Sketch comedy employs the same production elements of long-form drama, including actors, writers, directors, lighting and sound professionals, make-up and costume artists, set designers and post production expertise. As any network and most program producers will attest, sketch comedy can be as expensive to create as long-format drama and is often more challenging. The principal difference is the length of the storylines, and why should sketch comedy with shorter storylines be deemed less worthy than long-format drama? These are just some of the reasons ACMA recognises sketch comedy in the drama standard.

Analysis on the pollsters:

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Paul Gilchrist writes: Re. “The polls: who got it right?” (Yesterday, item 17). Congratulations to Peter Brent for a bit of analysis on the pollsters. After pounding us with their opinions before an election, they tend to slip away quietly after the actual event. A couple of observations from this humble punter: the margin of error is bigger than the pollsters admit; because there are occasional “rogue polls” like AC Nielson just before the election and Newspoll before the failed APEC coup against Howard. “Rogue poll” probably means the tail of a bell curve, or something like that. The moral? You can’t trust one poll to pick a sudden change of sentiment after a political event; the trend and the averages are the only reliable measures. A second observation? All the over-analysis about a quarter of the people making up their mind in the last week, and the significance of the “better economic manager” question is meaningless. When people tell the pollsters who they will vote for, they mean it. They are not joking, living in a parallel universe, giving a tactical message, or anything else. They just mean what they say.

Downer and Coonan in the boardrooms:

John Kramer writes: Re. “Smith: Rudd win has more than a touch of Tony Blair about it” (yesterday, item 6). Ian Smith thinks that Alexander Downer and Helen Coonan “are of immense value to corporate Australia”. If they do indeed choose that path, I think they will be of immense value to me, as I will have the perfect “sell” trigger for any company I hold shares in that adds them to their board or management team. Coonan’s performance in particular has been excruciating to watch for anyone with even a passing knowledge of communications, although to her infinitesimal credit she’s been better than Richard Alston. Downer is simply a fool.

Time for Australian Conservatives to unite:

Frank Golding writes: Re. “Faris: Time for Australian Conservatives to unite” (yesterday, item 33). Peter Faris reckons that “We need a party that offers strong policies which are, by definition, politically incorrect. We need policies that are strong on law and order, immigration, support of the family unit, support of marriage, proper education, the defeat of multiculturalism, support for country people and, above all, close ties with the US.” But, hasn’t he heard? We just got rid of one of those on Saturday.

Dave Liberts writes: Peter Faris’ article was even funnier than any contribution David Flint has made to Crikey. The Liberal Party lost the election because it has become ‘soft Left’, all of our governments are now ‘Socialist’ and Australian conservatives need to find a new voice because they’ve been ignored for so long. Absolute comedy gold. Peter Faris’ delusion that he is a centrist, and that therefore Kevin Rudd is pretty much a commo, is the obvious reason for his severely skewed viewpoint. But it does prompt a scary question – what does Peter Faris’ concept of an enthusiastic right-winger look like? Would it be that aunty of Ghengis Khan who was a founding member of her local CWA branch? Or that cousin of Adolph Hitler who headed up the district Chamber of Commerce and had a Mercedes dealership for a while? The mind boggles.

Cyril Ashman writes: Peter Faris is a great satirist. He takes every point that led to the Coalition’s defeat, and then says more of this is needed for a conservative force to regain government! 1) I doubt that you could find more than a dozen people in Australia who believe they lost because the Liberal Party is not far enough to the right (and these dozen would be in the NSW branch of the party). 2) Julia Gillard, Julia Gillard (ooga-booga!). The Libs obsession with her backfired massively. She mopped the floor with anyone from the Libs that she debated during the campaign. 3) Despite voting for Labor in every state, territory and now federally, this is not, apparently, what Australians really want.

Barney Langford writes: Peter that was a gee-up right? It was a gee-up. C’mon it was, wasn’t it? It was a gee-up. Nooooo it was a gee-up. Peter?

The conservative coalition will be back:

Philip Woods writes: Re. “Flint: The conservative coalition will be back” (yesterday, item 7). Poor old Flinty has failed to learn the lesson delivered to his beloved coalition by the people of Australia. David begins his Monday morning by seeking to find a Howard proxy in Rudd. He wants to see an even “more Tory than the Tories” action plan from Rudd and says that the gutted coalition “would be entitled to expect that any changes to WorkChoices” would fit in with Flint’s wishes. It is certainly going to be interesting to see the new policies and actions of the Rudd government and to see how they can get through the upper house. What is not going to be of interest, is the caterwauling of the eviscerated coalition looking to attribute blame and find another among their ranks to be their new head whipping boy. Of course the opposition will be back David; there are too many people and business used to being on the public teat to give it all away now.

Chris Hunter writes: Good old David Flint, out quoting Ecclesiastes. Obviously there is a time to die. But what happened to the Liberal party was not death as such. It was more like suicide. More spin than you could poke a stick at. Yes, we are a rich nation, but run down to hell. The Liberals will have to consider if silencing Hicks was really worth the price? The old freedom of speech thing eh? Present the body as such. No Latin required. That was their true downfall, a lost morality. Fancy Glen Milne working that out — after the result of course.

Peter Mansour writes: David Flint said a few factual things, even if in his traditional treacly patrician way. But he still misses the point if he thinks economic conditions were all voters thought about. Flint says Howard has left Australia “stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was eleven-and-a-half years ago.” Not prouder, if one looks at the cumulative effect of Government actions that depleted Australia’s moral fibre over many years. It probably reached critical mass with WorkChoices, and the spirit of fairness finally prevailed on November 24, so pride can be restored. Flint quotes Ecclesiastes’ “a time to lose”, as if it was just the bad luck of timing. He should have quoted v13: “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour”. Instead, David would have advised “repealing the so-called unfair dismissal law first, at least in relation to small business.” So we know his ethics would allow an injustice to a worker without appeal.

Alan Kerlin writes: “The conservative coalition will be back.” Indeed – eventually David Flint’s desperate wish will be fulfilled. But his beloved monarchy will be gone by then. The countdown on that one started ticking on Saturday night!

Hating Crikey:

Holger Lubotzki writes: Re. “Faris: Time for Australian Conservatives to unite” (yesterday, item 33). You guys have completely lost it. Like Devo, you have become that which you originally set out to replace. Devo put a new face on music trying to replace the formulaic pop of the seventies, but simply developed a new formula. In the same way, Crikey has become the ideological mouthpiece of the right, spouting the same dogma and jingoism without any rational or logical argument, just like Bolt and Blair. Leaving Flint aside for today, what’s this latest garbage from Faris? He advocates “the defeat of multiculturalism” in this country. Take a look at my name, boys, and maybe you’ll understand what I find offensive about that kind of xenophobia. When Kim Beazley capitulated with Howard on the Tampa I knew Labor had lost the election. That was because it’s hard to win a fight on somebody else’s turf and with somebody else’s rules. I’d like to know what makes you think you are going to build circulation against the likes of Blair and Bolt when they have the might of Rupert on their side. You’ve lost me as a subscriber and you’ve also lost me as an advocate of Crikey as an alternative balanced source of political commentary in Australia. Too bad…

Jane Carstens writes: I subscribed to your service because I believed that you were different from other media in that you really were impartial and not biased. Then you printed the disgraceful list of reasons why not to vote for Howard and said that it’s better to give the other mob a go (though no intelligent person would ever be swayed by such a diatribe). Then yesterday you said that now we get Kevin Rudd for PM – had anyone thought of that? That smacks of sensational journalism. You are just a tabloid on the net.

Loving Crikey:

Colin Jacobs writes: Just wanted to say thanks for the great election coverage. I would never have gotten my fix from the papers, let alone TV. Crikey had just the right mix of hard numbers and interesting speculation. My subscription is assured for three more years at least! Keep up the good work.

David Howe writes: Re. Sunday’s editorial. I love Crikey! Some of its lines crack me up seriously, in particular Sunday’s little rant: “Which is all very well, except now we get Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. For three years. Had anyone thought that through?” I guess the obvious answer is probably not, but Little Johnny and his cohorts had to go. Clearly the majority of Australia agreed, and most joyously the good people of Bennelong really got into the act. It doesn’t detract from your question, and it’s bloody funny.

The Suspend-Your-Cynicism Cup for the most inspiring campaign moment:

Tony Allan writes: Re. “Crikey Election Awards: the winners” (Friday, item 17). Sorry Crikey, but it is I, not Robert O’Connor, who submitted the best campaign moment suggestion about the Scottish accordion player (complete with accordion joke). You got our contributions around the wrong way…

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