The Panel (Australian TV series)
|Developed by||Working Dog Productions|
|Presented by||Santo Cilauro
|Country of origin||Australia|
|Running time||60 minutes (including commercials)|
|Original channel||Network Ten|
|Original airing||1998–2004 (regular series)|
|Related shows||The Panel (Irish TV series)
The Panel (New Zealand
The Panel is an Australian television talk show that was broadcast by Network Ten and its affiliates; it was also simulcast on the Triple M radio network. The show was produced by Working Dog Productions and included several members of the former D-Generation and The Late Show casts.
The show featured a panel of five (originally six) people who discuss and joke about items in the news, current affairs, and pop culture. Episodes of The Panel screened at 9.30pm on Wednesday nights. Episodes were scheduled to run one hour but would often finish late, delaying the live news broadcast scheduled for 10.30pm immediately afterwards.
The series premiered in 1998 and was very popular in its first few years. The show is currently considered to be on hiatus with the last regular episode airing in 2004. Between 2003 and 2007 the show also broadcast an annual Christmas special.
The regular panelists are Glenn Robbins, Rob Sitch, Tom Gleisner, Kate Langbroek and Santo Cilauro (usually sitting in this order from screen left to right at the desk). Jane Kennedy was the original 6th panelist, but later left the show. Gleisner would act as the MC, introducing guests and bookending segments, however if he didn't appear in the episode, Cilauro would often play this role.
The series also frequently featured guest panelists, with other Australian comedians, actors, and international guests (such as American actor Harry Shearer) regularly taking a spot at the desk. Jo Stanley replaced Langbroek, who was on maternity leave, as a regular panelist for a number of shows in 2004.
Guests include music and movie stars, sports heroes and political figures, but also many lower profile individuals who have interesting stories to tell, such as round-the-world sailor Jesse Martin, or sexual health physician Dr. Cindy Pan. A number of regular guests also appear to help present segments. These include sports reporter Stephen Quartermain, film reviewer Lawrie Zion and Hollywood correspondent Jeff Stilson.
One of the most "excruciating" interviews, as Tom Gleisner described it, was in 2002 when Tommy Lee Jones was in the studio with Will Smith to promote their film Men in Black II. Jones did not respond positively to any of the good humour of the interviewers and provided very brief answers.
All Aussie Adventures host, Russell Coight (played by Glenn Robbins) appeared in character on one episode. Robbins did not appear as a panelist that week. Robbins also appeared as both himself and his Kath & Kim character Kel Knight during the 2007 Christmas special.
Starting in 2003 a special Christmas episode of the show aired on Christmas night, outside the regular broadcast season of the series. It has been promoted under varying titles including The Panel Christmas Special and The Panel Christmas Wrap.
The extended length episode (usually two to three hours long) combines regular segments of the show, including live music performances and celebrity guests, with retrospectives on the past year. Live advertorials for the show's sponsors are also performed by the cast, with the proceeds going to charity. The specials always finish with a pantomime of deliberately dubious quality revolving around the birth of Jesus.
Christmas specials continued to be produced for some years after regular series production ended, with the latest special broadcast in 2007. Although initially planned, there was no special in 2008 due to Working Dog's commitment to The Hollowmen.
The success of the show has resulted in successful spin off shows in Ireland (hosted by Dara Ó Briain; see The Panel (Irish TV series)) and New Zealand (hosted by Cal Wilson). Another spin-off, supposedly the Afghanistan version, was introduced on the 2005 Christmas special.
It has also led to the release of several albums in the Music – Live from the Panel series, consisting of songs performed on the show by local and international artists. Performances on The Panel were frequently performed acoustically or with minimal instrumental backing, as opposed to a full band.
Network Ten and The Panel have been parties to a number of media law cases. They are in a long running dispute with the Nine Network in the Federal Court of Australia regarding an episode of The Panel and its broadcast of footage from Nine shows. Several appeals and related decisions have been made in the Federal Court (FCA), the Full Court of the Federal Court (FCAFC) and the High Court of Australia (HCA):
- 1st  FCA 108
- 2nd  FCA 841
- 3rd  FCAFC 146
- 4th  HCA 14
- 5th  FCAFC 53
- 6th  FCAFC 194
In its first year, the show gained some notice when Rob Sitch uttered the word "fuck", then taboo for a live program, on air when inquiring about television presenter Donna Gubbay. Gubbay had presented a story on her program E! News where she introduced a story about panelist Kate Langbroek with the words "Who the hell is Kate Langbroek?" After playing the footage, Sitch retorted "who the hell is Kate Langbroek? Well, who the fuck are you?"
In 2003 Langbroek faced some criticism after breastfeeding her first-born child live on air shortly after giving birth.