"what part is good, what part is news and what part is weak will
become very obvious as the show progresses"
An Australian adaption(rip-off?) of the English television show Have I got News for You!, Good News Week (or GNW) started on the ABC in 1996.
Hosted by ex-Doug Anthony Allstars bad-boy Paul McDermott the show revolved around two teams of 3 contestants vying to be the quickest, funniest and only occasionally the most accurate recollectors of the current events of the week.
The Queensland Health Department has seized Uranium and Thorium from the home of a science researcher who was trying to build a waste free nuclear power generator in his back yard. Now there's a storyline they haven't thought of for Neighbours!
Each team of three was fronted by a Captain: Mikey Robbins and Anthony Ackroyd were team leaders for the first few weeks before Anthony was replaced by Julie McCrossin. (Common consensus attributes this to Anthony Ackroyd being only slightly funnier than an epileptic baby)
The remaining two members of each team were usually made up of a local or international celebrity and/or politican.
There have been some big breakthroughs in science this week. A New York woman has given birth to triplets thanks to a fertility drug developed from Hamster cells. Interestingly, the hamster fertility drug replaces an earlier model which was made by harvesting hormones from urine mostly supplied by nuns. Yes, if you like chasing hamsters with a pair of tweezers, or following nuns into the toilet with a large jar - modern science has a job for you!
Both teams are given clues regarding a recent news story, and they have to try and get as many points as possible. Points are awarded by Paul on a purely adhoc basis: if the answer were creative enough, it might win points. Flattery also worked wonders when applied in subtle ways. But Paul was ever-fickle, and teams could lose from a misplaced comment on the judging style! Similarly, a flashed nipple by Anthony Ackroyd has won a match.
The French Government is so concerned that heterosexual men aren't practising safe sex they've commissioned five top film directors to make pornographic films which reinforce the need for protection. And when the director asks for Vaseline on the lens, it's not an artistic shot, it's an extreme close up!
The guests on the show were given no respect regardless of authority, power, age or wisdom. Margaret Scott, an ancient Tasmanian poet would cop both barrels of scorn and disrespect from Paul with every appearance. However since she dished it out better than she recieved it and there is no worse humilation than being verbally smacked down by an old lady, Paul claims to have won the moral victory.
In Russia, a communist party deputy claims Boris Yeltsin has been replaced with a double. Alexander Sally says the fake Boris was put in after the 1996 elections, and given careful instructions on how to walk and talk like the President of Russia. Of course, they had to do that for the real Yeltsin too. Some experts believe the scam started when the speaker of the Russian Parliament called 'Order', and Boris said 'I'll have a double'.
The writers of Good News Week really made the show: it became obvious after watching for awhile that many parts were pre-scripted. Teams would be given general outlines to follow, with improvisation the name of the game. Surprisingly for such a quick-witted individual, Paul was not given much power in the script writing process. His monologues at the beginning of each show displayed his comedic flair, but the words all came from behind the scenes.
A twenty-seven year old man was found naked and dead on the back of a 5,000 kilogram whale at Sea World in Florida this week. It's a good job he's dead, otherwise this guy would be feeling pretty silly right about now. So many questions. How did her come to be naked? dead? and on top of a whale? Which part of him was caught where? Is that why they call it Free Willy? Or did he mistake it for a humpback? The whale is now receiving counselling. Apparently he blames himself for the batteries in his new toy going flat because he kept holding it under water to watch its legs kick!
Paul McDermott displayed his unique brand of caustic wit and angelic singing voice to their best, becoming the perfect host for the fast paced and occasionally chaotic show. As the years progressed, Paul become more and more forward with showing off his vocal talents. During the last years, most shows ended with Paul singing a duet with a guest member or band.
Overseas, the Queen may offer to work for free for up to three years after discovering a seventy-eight million dollar surplus on the royal books. Working for free for three years - Nice, nice. Returning the money - even nicer! I mean, the Queen must think pretty highly of herself if she values her services at $26 million a year. Normally, a 74 year old with no formal training would be lucky to get ten bucks an hour. The Queen has been cashed up over the last two years because she doesn't have to pay all those private detectives to dig up the dirt on Diana anymore. And she'll have even more when she makes the last payment to that Fiat Uno driver!
GNW spawned numerous specials, including a variety-type-show Good News Weekend and several 'road trip' shows, most memorable amongst them being the Melbourne Internation Comedy Festival and Brisbane Southbank shows.
The show spent three years at the ABC before being bought by Channel Ten: it lasted a further two years until it was cancelled in 2000.
Quotes and background information obtained from: