After twelve years as Australia’s premiere current affairs panel show, the ABC has pulled Q&A from its broadcast schedule. In its place: Q+A.
That’s right, folks. The ampersand is dead.
An ABC producer today confirmed the change to PEDESTRIAN.TV, saying the show is now officially stylised with a plus symbol.
The change came amid ABC’s revamp of the programme, which saw journalist Hamish Macdonald take over from founding presenter Tony Jones.
While news of Macdonald’s new role was revealed in November 2019 under the Q&A banner, the show’s Facebook page added a Q+A logo on January 20 this year.
That change provoked mixed reviews. While many Facebook commenters praised the new look, one lamented the omission of the “beautiful character.”
“Just, NO,” wrote another.
“Hate it, and hate the plus symbol used for ‘and’. Much prefer the ampersand.”
Others likened that red-and-white arrangement to the Red Cross logo, while one especially emotive viewer called it “pitiable.”
Despite those criticisms, an ABC media release featured the new style two days later, cementing its place on Australian screens.
The change mirrors the ABC’s 2011 decision to rebrand its flagship news current affairs programme The 7.30 Report as the leaner, meaner 7.30.
But aesthetic rejig to the show’s style, set and scenery aren’t the only big changes at Q+A.
In addition to a new host, ABC states the new Q+A will venture from ABC’s Ultimo studios more often than before, granting more Aussies the chance to ask hard questions of notable public figures.
Last week’s season premiere was filmed in Queanbeyan, NSW, setting a precedent Macdonald seems keen to continue.
“This role will be a huge opportunity to make the most complicated issues accessible, engaging and exciting for all Australians, no matter where you live, no matter what you believe,” Macdonald said in November.
Macdonald also opened last night’s episode with a call to put the “political debate to one side” while discussing Australia’s transition away from carbon-belching industries, a marked change for a show with a reputation of fostering on-screen conflict.
While it’s too early to scope out the success of the new format, moving from the Jones era was always going to be a big task. Whether the show wins over its diehard ampersand supporters is yet to be seen – and you can take that as a comment.