How are you settling into the new job?
It’s been busy – we’ve had to hit the ground running given the nature of our first show. The first show’s going to be dedicated to the bushfire disaster: we feel there’s no real way to tell the story other than taking the show to one of the fire-affected communities.
As the new broom, have you given the format a major revamp?
I think Q&A is such a unique format, and what is at its heart is that it’s a powerful platform for people to put their questions to people in power, and that’s not something we’re going to take away. But obviously, a new host gives it a whole new dimension, and there’s going to be a new look and feel. There will be some differences, there’ll be some surprises, so this is an opportunity to add a few different things to the program, but the format is the heart of the show, and we won’t be tinkering with that.
What does new host Hamish Macdonald bring to the chair?
Hamish is so even-handed in his approach, he really is tough on both sides. He prides himself on being that objective storyteller, he has a passion for high-value storytelling, and I think we’ve seen that in his summer reportage of the fires. He was on holiday in one of the areas affected and was actually evacuated, and that turned into him doing his first formal pieces of storytelling for the ABC as one of our senior presenters. I think he really understands the importance of getting answers for our audience members and I think he is committed to cutting through those talking points.
Is it a major challenge for the show to be even-handed, given that every side wants you to favour them?
I think you have to be switched on. It’s a really tough act, that hosting gig: it’s been described as one of the toughest gigs on TV. But Hamish is up for the challenge. The audience wants real and open conversation, so he’s got to navigate the conversation and keep them on point. Hamish is not afraid to pull someone up when they’re veering down a script or repeating a point.