An episode with Wallace Chapman

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Wallace Chapman. Photo / William Booth

By Sarah Daniell

Give me one good reason why I should watch Back Benches this season?

No other format (in the world) will have a Member of Parliament standing before a glass of beer or a wine, and a pub crowd. You get to see a different side to those you elect to represent you.

Which politician do you find it excruciatingly hard to be polite to?

Former ACT MP David Garrett.

How have you changed as a broadcaster since Back Benches began - what's improved and what didn't need to?

Ten years on and I've learnt a lot. Because we only do one take, and one take only, a lot of things can go drastically wrong in a pub full of people. I have developed a sixth sense for troublemakers that I never had when I started.

What's building up to be the greatest issue for the election in your opinion?

It will be the economy. People will be asking how far does my dollar stretch? Another biggie will be fresh water and water quality - I can't recall an election where the environment has been so front and centre.

You said in an interview, in 2013, that you thought the state of TV was "pretty good". Do you still feel that way?

Back then I was referring to a golden age in television - Deadwood, The Wire and so on. Well, in that sense, it has just got even better. By the same token, there is always room for improvement, especially around issues-based programmes. There are some good examples. Sunday as an example is a great mainstream issues based offering. And The Crowd Goes Wild on Prime is an evergreen for me, and I'm not even a sports fan.

What currently is appointment - or pre-recorded-and-binge-later-viewing?

Continued below.

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I hate to admit it but here goes. Million Dollar Listing LA. I love it. I know more about the LA market than the Auckland one. And on the other hand, I'm constantly on Al Jazeera. You really get a unique perspective on international issues.

What television show character rocked your axis as a child?

Steve Austin from the Six Million Dollar Man. I had the doll and everything.

It's too late now, but what would you like to erase from the record, a moment from your own TV hosting experience?

The first Back Benches show in March 2008. What a shitter. The audience in the pub didn't know what they were there for, and Maurice Williamson was being combative about global warming. It was a very strange show.

Where is your heart really - TV or radio ?

Radio. I have been doing it for 20 years full-time. In saying that, nothing compares in my broadcasting experience of hosting a raucous political TV show in a working tavern.

What's most important to you - quality/credibility or ratings?

I've never been fussed about ratings so it would have to be quality/credibility. I do recall saying at Radio Live to the boss, "look if it doesn't rate in three books' time - just fire me". Luckily, as I recall, the fourth survey saved my arse.

Lowdown

Back Benches Wednesdays at 9.35pm on Prime

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