Amanda Collinge is the series producer for the ABC’s Q&A. Amanda has been with the show for over a decade, seeing the program through some of its most controversial episodes. Prior to her current role, she was a reporter and presenter for Dateline and Insight with the SBS and ABC. Amanda tweets at @amandacollinge.
What are some key skills/talents that make a great producer?
These skills include: identifying the issues and characters that your audience is interested in; delivering ideas in a fresh and engaging way; never showing bias in how you cover a story or issue; providing alternative viewpoints so the audience can make up their own mind; having a passion for storytelling and a natural curiosity in people; being able to talk to people from all walks of life.
Why is it important to always have as many different opinions on the panel as possible, even if they are sometimes a bit extreme?
It’s important that people hear a range of views and it’s good to challenge peoples’ thinking and open them up to new opinions, even if they don’t agree. A debate show also has to have tension and points of difference. How boring would it be if everyone on the panel had the same point of view?
What has kept you at Q&A as a series producer for so many years, the longest of all your past jobs?
A belief that the show is still doing what it set out to do – helping keep our politicians accountable and providing everyday Australians with a direct way of interacting with them.
Q&A may be frustrating at times. But when the show works, it can set the agenda for the week, break your heart or have you up cheering. At its best it is the best discussion show on TV, providing information in a robust and engaging setting.
Working in a live television environment where the content can go from sweet to sour in a flash, how do you find the balance between the line of encouraging and instigating?
We always encourage, never instigate. All our audience questions are written by the audience members, with no input from the producers. We do not inform our panellists of the questions, only the likely topic areas. So the show is completely authentic, live and spontaneous. Anything can happen and that keeps us on our toes!
In a press release, what would a producer at Q&A find most useful?
Get straight to the point. ‘I would be good on Q&A because I offer such and such new information’. You must also express why it is timely NOW to have it discussed on the panel.
Always provide an example of the talent’s ability to take part in live TV with links to previous TV interviews, Ted talks or public speaking.