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British Comedy

articles about Australian TV version of "The Unbelievable Truth"
05/10/2012 15:48 GMT

Posted by lisa

Here are a couple of articles about next week's premier of "The Unbelievable Truth" on Australia's Channel 7

1. From The Age listing of shows for Thurs, Oct 11th (posted 4 October 2012):  http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-guide/thursday-october-11-20121003-26y45.html

The Unbelievable Truth: series premiere, Channel Seven, 9.30pm

HOSTED by Craig Reucassel (The Hamster Wheel), this promising first episode features a panel of comedians and special guests including Kitty Flanagan, Toby Truslove (former BMX champion), Simon Simmons and Julian Morrow (The Chaser's War on Everything), each presenting on a range of topics - beards, Apple, childbirth, the origins of OMG - while the panel try to spot the truth in ''a barrage of lies''. The dynamic between the players is close to perfect, with cracking one-liners zinging from the get-go. It's fast, amusing and unearths some truly remarkable facts. Reucassel makes for a relaxed host, deftly orchestrating his guests without being overbearing. A very pregnant and reliably funny Flanagan is a standout, while Truslove's spiel on beards is a close second. I'm looking forward to future guests Sarah Kendall and Celia Pacquola.


2. From The Age posted 8 October 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/down-the-garden-path-20121005-272x7.html.  This page includes two critics giving their opinion of the show, including a few brief clips from the series. 

Down the Garden path

Date October 8, 2012

Sacha Molitorisz

Comedian Virginia Gay is standing beside a life-size replica of Ned Kelly. ''Spoons,'' she says, sizing up Australia's infamous bushranger. ''His helmet was made of spoons.''

''You know how he died?'' comedian Akmal Saleh interjects. ''He was forked.''

''Such is knife,'' Andrew Hansen says, incisively.

What do you get when you pack a stage full of comedians? Punchlines. Lots of them. And now you get The Unbelievable Truth, the bastard love-child of Graeme ''Goodie'' Garden and the Chaser's Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel and Hansen.

''It's a show about truth and lies,'' says Garden, still best known for his work with comic trio the Goodies. ''There are four players and each of them gives a talk and the whole talk has to be untrue, so they can make up the silliest, funniest lies about any topic that people can talk about. But within that they've got to smuggle five truths past the other people, so of course you want to find the truths that sound the least believable. So the most bizarre truths are stitched into all this pack of lies.

''The other players have to buzz in when they think they've spotted a truth. If it is a truth, they get a point. If they get it wrong, they lose a point. And at the end of it, the person who is talking counts up how many truths they managed to smuggle past the others, so it's a scoring game - played very, very seriously.

''Also, when people buzz in there's usually some debate and discussion and argument about how true things are, so there's a lot of fun to be had from the banter. Because the easiest thing in the world is to put in an inadvertent truth.''

In the spirit of the game, then, here is a series of untrue statements about Graeme Garden, into which one truth has been smuggled. One: the Scottish quipper met fellow Goodies Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor in the 1960s when all three were students at Cambridge University. Two: he studied medicine, following in the footsteps of his dad, an orthopaedic surgeon who invented the ''Garden screw'', which fixes hip fractures. Three: Garden completed his studies but chose to pursue a career in comedy instead of saving lives. Four: his son plays keyboards for the camp pop band Scissor Sisters. Five: The Unbelievable Truth is based on a hit BBC radio show of the same name.

So, which one of those statements is true? Actually, they all are.

''We've done nine radio series now, 51 programs, and are still going strong. So we know the format is robust,'' Garden says. ''And we obviously have different people on the show and it works well with any style of comic. They write their own material and they bring their own style to the show. We've never had a problem - although, after they've written them, we tend to script edit.''

This is the first time the show has been adapted for television, a process that carries with it both possibilities and challenges. ''On the radio, there's just one researcher,'' Garden says. ''Here there's a big team of editors, graphic designers, illustrators and researchers working on the show.''

The collaboration between Garden and the Chaser stems from 2009, when Andrew Hansen was MC during a series of gigs with Garden and Brooke-Taylor. ''The whole thing grew out of Andrew's dream come true of hosting that tour,'' says the show's executive producer, Julian Morrow.

''We got talking after those shows,'' says Hansen, who appears as a regular panellist. ''Graeme said, 'We've got this radio show, I was thinking maybe we could make one in Australia'. So I said, 'We don't make comedy radio shows in Australia, there's no such thing, you'd have to make it as a TV show.'

''He said, 'Maybe we could do that. Do you know of any production companies in Australia that might be interested in something like that?' I had a long think about how to respond and then very cheekily said, 'Well, we've got a little production company '''

Morrow laughs. ''That's the thing I find most amazing,'' he says. ''Andrew is the least entrepreneurial, least business-savvy person on the planet. When Andrew rang and said, 'I think I might have just teed up a little deal with Graeme from the Goodies', I said, 'Are you serious?' I thought it wasn't true, that Andrew had misinterpreted a conversation.''

But true it turned out to be, as Morrow, Hansen and Reucassel were lured from the ABC to Channel Seven to make the project.

During the taping that The Guide attends, host Reucassel is joined by Hansen, Gay, Saleh and the Umbilical Brothers's David Collins. At one point, there is a dispute about a claim. Is it true? Or is it a lie? Confusion reigns.

''The Chasers,'' Collins says. ''Where near enough is always good enough.''

''You're making us sound better than we are,'' Hansen replies.

Shooting the show in front of a live studio audience creates an unpredictable energy. The crowd is in stitches when Saleh's monologue descends into anarchic improvisation. Much of the comedy is surreal. Especially the comedy from the audience.

''Anyone got any questions for Craig?'' the floor manager asks the audience during a break. ''Yeah, can I have a sandwich?'' someone asks. ''I was told there would be sandwiches.''

The game resumes. After another surreal monologue, Reucassel chastises Saleh. ''You lose a point,'' he says. ''What do you win on this show anyway?'' Saleh shoots back. ''Nothing.''

Not true. You earn the coveted title of Australia's funniest liar. And that takes a lot of work. Dishonesty is anything but effortless.

''Oh yes,'' Garden says. ''You couldn't ad lib this.''

The Unbelievable Truth

Seven, Thursdays, 9.30pm

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