With the widely criticised ABC stewardship of Michelle Guthrie now officially in the toilet, the national broadcaster is at a watershed moment: do they continue the current course — bowing to cuts, alienating longtime supporters, raising the ire of corporate and political gatekeepers — or do they fix everything by canceling long-running midnight music video show Rage.
The ABC, as everyone knows, is like a giant clock: it’s big and important, it was expensive to build and stands as a sign of pride. But you know, it’s going to get some spiders in there from time to time, and so it must be filled with poison gas. Rage is one such spider.
Rage must go. This is non-negotiable. It is chronically sad to watch, and the intro — with its screaming and its big stretchy ’80s face — is terrifying. It is Ellen for more traditionally depressed people. In an era of streaming, Rage’s champions must understand that musical choice is now defined by algorithms curated by vodka brands and every song is from a superhero movie.
Instead, the timeslot can be filled with one of those “slow TV” shows that they’re nuts for in Scandinavia (real-time train travel through a snowbound location, many hours of old people knitting etc). These countries all enjoy healthy GDPs and low homicide rates. Am I suggesting that watching many hours of train footage every weekend will make us rich and stop people from murdering each other? Yes, and the incoming managing director must understand that blood will otherwise be on their hands.
Other suggested changes to ensure the survival of the ABC:
- Insiders, Landline, and other weekend morning programming must be cut. Saturday and Sunday morning TV is reserved for insultingly low-budget cartoons, followed by those divorced dad motorsports.
- Revamp Radio National by canning the on-air talent and bringing in Cameron Daddo and the rest of the SmoothFM team, whose voices are like laying in a warm and sacred lagoon.
- Full funding must be restored to Four Corners and other investigative programs, contingent on their dedicating an episode to finding the anonymous person who keeps drinking all the water out of my bird bath.
- Any comedians who were active in the early 2000s must be banned from pitching any new comedies. Unwatchable celebrity panel shows exist on commercial stations for a reason: to keep public money out of Peter Helliar’s hands, leaving space for young comics who aren’t old enough to have had their careers ruined by getting rejected for parts in both Crackerjack and Bad Eggs. (Note: Shaun Micallef is not exempt — he has shows on literally every single other Australian network to fall back on.)
- Bring back The Movie Show with Margaret and David. Some may note that this was broadcast on the SBS but it, as I understand it, is the same thing as the ABC.
- ABC Shops must return. Ever since their closure, people have been starving for somewhere to buy a Keeping Up Appearances jigsaw puzzle, or a Doctor Who advent calendar, or season three of Grand Designs but literally no other seasons, or a cookbook from Wholesome Ladies from Different Backgrounds But Who Are Both Pretty Rich, or the collectors’ edition Andre Rieu concert DVD where the old women fight in the crowd.
It’s time to make this, truly, our ABC.