The West

Wheel of controversy
Chris Taylor, Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel. Front: Andrew Hansen, Chas Licciardello. Picture: Supplied.

Controversy and The Chaser go hand in hand so it was no surprise the new season of The Hamster Wheel was already making headlines before it had gone to air.

Last week Craig Reucassel was forced to apologise for upsetting nurse and Bali bombing survivor Clair Marsh after he tried to quiz Opposition Leader Tony Abbott about freedom of speech.

Mr Abbott had just finished a press conference urging the Government to pay compensation for those affected by terrorist acts overseas such as the Bali bombings.

Speaking before last week's incident, Reucassel indicated the series would again be dissecting and satirising the worlds of media and politics.

"I think we will do a bit more politics this year, popping down to Canberra little bit which is good," he said.

"The political debate itself is so kind of rancid at the moment; it will certainly get a bit of coverage.

"It is probably a slightly broader slate this year, there is certainly random stuff that doesn't fit in."

News programs including breakfast television will get a once-over, even Ten's low-rating Breakfast.

"Our office is pretty much the only place in Australia watching Paul Henry; it's all just our loggers watching away. Oh my God he's extraordinary."

The Chaser's return will hopefully give ABC1 a much-needed ratings boost, with Wednesday nights suffering this year without Spicks and Specks.

They even joked about it in a tongue-in-cheek "draft" press release sent to media to announce The Hamster Wheel's return.

One of the crossed-out parts said: "In 2011, The Hamster Wheel averaged over 850,000 viewers a week in the 9.30pm timeslot, peaking at 950,000 but there's no way it will get as many viewers this year because the ABC's Wednesday nights have died in the arse."

"If you read between the lines, it's what we wanted to write and what ABC publicity would let us write," laughed Reucassel.

"They were very good in the end to let us put that out, it savagely took the p… out of them."

Reucassel, Julian Morrow and Andrew Hansen will also be seen next month on Seven's comedy panel show about weeding out lies, The Unbelievable Truth, but said that won't stop the Hamster team (including Chas Licciardello and Chris Taylor) having the odd dig at Seven.

"The great thing about doing the Channel 7 show is we got to take pot shots at Channel 7 on Channel 7.

"If we get to do it on Seven - we certainly have lots of clips from various channels' news shows already - so there's no fear there. That was done a while back, I don't know if it is good or bad, it's going to air at the same time.

"It is going out about a week after I think; it's very strange and funny to be on two channels at once. People will be thinking 'wow they must be working really hard'."

Reucassel said not being a news show, they wouldn't be analysing or taking a dig at The Unbelievable Truth on The Hamster Wheel.

"I am sure there will be gags though; when any of us does a different show the others put in tons of gags about it."

The Hamster Wheel airs tomorrow on ABC1 at 9.05pm.

The West Australian

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