‘Australia’s oldest newspaper’ – The Betoota Advocate is about to hit the small screen. The team behind the popular satire news site has just penned a deal with Warner Bros. that will see a new major television project land in the near future. But don’t expect this to be just another sketch round-up. In an interview with The Guardian, the outspoken satirists revealed they had previously rejected multiple offers to produce sketch comedy for television because they didn’t want to be “put in a box”. So, what’s on the cards this time around?
For the unacquainted, The Betoota Advocate presents itself as a far-west Queensland regional newspaper, delivering powerful political, social and sporting news. In a similar vein to the US-based The Onion, the site has become a trip-hazard for many lackadaisical journalists. In the past, reporters from Nine have been caught publishing satire stories that originally appeared on The Betoota Advocate, seemingly unaware of their origins. But when you’ve got killer headlines such as ‘Local Freelance Creative Looking Forward to Another Christmas of Family Career Advice’ and ‘F*ck Yeah: The Jacarandas are Back On’, who can blame them?
Since 2014, The Betoota Advocate has undergone a serious growth period, branching out in the podcast space and even launching their own beer, however, the latest expansion marks a bold step into uncharted territory. An announcement by Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia (WBITVP) and Diamantina Media, a digital media company formed by the team behind the site, confirmed the new Betoota Advocate show will offer a suite of “premium, unscripted productions”.
“We are thrilled to be working with an organisation as successful and experienced as Warner Bros. WB are the ideal partner to guide us and ensure the voice and tone beloved by fans of The Betoota Advocate translates to TV,” Diamantina Media Podcast director Antony Stockdale said.
Importantly, Betoota is sticking to their guns. The satirists confirmed they won’t be pulling stunts like The Chaser or diving headfirst into sketch comedy. Instead, you’re likely to see more stories about politicians, Australian icons and the legend that is the great Aussie larrikin.
“Ever since we started, the pitch we always get is ‘hey, do a sketch comedy show or do a weekly panel show’. I don’t think we’re in the same box as people like the Chaser, we wanted to do something different. We don’t do stunts. We don’t try and gotcha people,” Stockdale told The Guardian.
“We think there’s some great stories to be told about Australia in particular: iconic moments in Australian history and how they all played out, or probably played out. It’s Betoota, so it’s not going to be exactly how it played out. There’s great stories like (Christopher) Skase and (Alan) Bond and really sort of iconic things like that, and just sort of revisiting some of these iconic Australian moments. And it’s also just what is Australia. What ties us together what sets us apart? We are 25 million people, 120 religions, 1800 towns and one Big Banana.”
In all likelihood, the new Betoota TV show will play out a lot like the current news site, which offers a uniquely Aussie approach to the daily news. Whether that translate across the globe is anyone’s guess, but Michael Brooks, managing director of WBITVP Australia is banking on big market appeal.
“With its distinct, bitingly satirical and smart approach to content, The Betoota Advocate has won a huge following,” Brooks said in a statement via Mumbrella. “Meanwhile, Warner Bros. – with its storied TV production experience and international reach – is perfectly positioned to elevate this voice, and we’ll work together to develop premium unscripted television series with local and global appeal.”
There is no word yet on when The Betoota Advocate TV show will kick off, but the boys are in good hands. Warner Bros in Australia has carved out a catalogue of successful shows in the past, including The Bachelor, The Masked Singer, Celebrity Apprentice, Selling Houses Australia and Dancing with the Stars. This one, while different in nature, could be a serious ratings drawcard. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming series.