Randling’s ratings failure was partly because of budget shortcuts admits ABC boss

denton randlingThe failure of Andrew Denton’s word game comedy Randling to find an audience was partly because of the cost cutting process the ABC put the show through, MD Mark Scott has conceded.

The show, in the ABC’s key 8.30pm Wednesday night comedy slot, struggled to reach a metro audience of 600,000. Its final week, by which time it had moved to 9.30pm, it rated just 434,000.

But the entire 27-episode series was shot before any of it was aired, leaving no opportunity for Denton’s production house Zapruder’s Other Films to develop the format in response to audience reaction.

Scott told Mumbrella’s sister title Encore: “One of the things we did with Randling that we learned from, and this was partly a budget thing, was that we locked all that away. It was all locked away before it went to air. If we had been broadcasting it as we were making it, we probably would have fine tuned it along the way and we weren’t able to.”

Zapruder’s, which has since merged to form Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder, is also responsible for one of the ABC’s biggest shows – adland panel discussion Gruen.

Meanwhile, among the comedy output that Scott signalled as a favourite was A Moody Christmas, produced by Sydney production house Jungleboys. Scott said he watched the series twice and hoped to create further episodes.


  1. Tim Bennett
    31 Jan 13
    3:05 pm

  2. My wife and I went to two filmings. Both were uproariously funny. The resulting episodes, however, crushed down from ninety to thirty minutes, lacked the same live zing.

    In an unusual reversal, I loved seeing how the sausage was made, but not the taste of the final product.

  3. crizza
    31 Jan 13
    3:15 pm

  4. Could definitely have done with some format development – couldn’t believe it was only half an hour. It felt like a live parliamentary broadcast with all the funny bits taken out. In our house we used it as a punishment – “we’ll make you watch Randling if you don’t tidy your room!”

  5. Harry
    31 Jan 13
    3:25 pm

  6. It seems incredible that Mark Scott would blame cost cutting for the failure of Randling and indicative of his general inexperience when it comes to television. Any sensible executive would have first shot a pilot of the show, done some audience testing and then tweaked it further before committing to probably a 12 episode series. Similarly with Crownies the ABC committed to 22 episodes of an untested drama which was deserted by a prime time audience and savaged by critics. It was left with expensive sets and savalged these by doing a sequel to Crownies called Janet King which is probably in production by now. Both these shows were ill conceived creatively but the management approach to commit to so many episodes was plainly stupid. If Mark Scott is unable to take a more rigourous approach towards the failures and really identify the problems then they will only continue. I only hope the new Head of Television they are currently searching for has a great deal of television experience to avert further poor decisions.

  7. hmmm
    31 Jan 13
    3:30 pm

  8. I actually liked this show. That is a shame, but then again I would watch anything Anthony Morgan and Annabel Crabb were in.

  9. Randle Schmandle
    31 Jan 13
    3:47 pm

  10. They could have fine-tuned it by leaving episodes 2-27 unaired. Hilariously unfunny program.

  11. Al
    31 Jan 13
    6:38 pm

  12. Totally awful show. It had as much life and zing as a beached fish. The ABCs love affair with Denton as an on air talent needs auditing. he is as interesting as a pair of tight black jeans in Newtown. The pool of on air talent bored my tv addicted Septaguarian mother it was so predictable and bland. Someone forgot to say No this is digital poo.

  13. Lucio
    1 Feb 13
    8:31 am

  14. @Al – correct!

  15. Simples as ABC
    1 Feb 13
    10:26 am

  16. Couldn’t believe that Andrew Denton spoiled his superb reputation by putting his name AND face to this rubbish. Bad call. More money wouldn’t have helped it.

  17. Ricki
    1 Feb 13
    10:45 am

  18. Randling didn’t fail due to cost cutting.

    It failed because it wasn’t entertaining.

    Don’t blame the accountants. Blame the poor writing and hamstrung talent having to make the best of an unworkable format.

  19. Mike Frazer
    1 Feb 13
    1:17 pm

  20. There were too many episodes… for a quiz show that had a definition conclusion i.e. a grand final, it seemed interminable.