Monkeys go thematic on nostalgic quiz show

From left, Adam Richard, Frank Woodley, Monty Dimond, Merrick Watts (front), Sarah Kendall, Dave O'Neil and Graeme Blundell in a scene from the TV series Tractor Monkeys.
From left, Adam Richard, Frank Woodley, Monty Dimond, Merrick Watts (front), Sarah Kendall, Dave O'Neil and Graeme Blundell in a scene from the TV series Tractor Monkeys. Contributed by ABC TV publicity

THEMED episodes have sharpened ABC's comedy series Tractor Monkeys.

The second series has seen team captains Monty Dimond and Dave O'Neil, with a variety of weekly guests, look back at topics including love, fashion and family in the nostalgic quiz show.

The weekly topics have helped the show focus in on relevant clips from the ABC's vast archives and inspire guests to share humorous anecdotes.

"It really made a huge difference," host Merrick Watts told The Guide.

"(The themes) give it some structure; that's been really helpful.

"We've figured out what the genetic code for the show is. Last year we could see the elements that we all enjoyed, but I think the equations and balances were out."

Tractor Monkeys - ABC1 - Wednesday at 8pm

Watts believes the show has hit its straps this year, and the cast and crew are fortunate to be given the chance to grow and evolve in the second series.

"It's one of those shows that you're not going to get it right in first four episodes. It takes time to develop and find its way," he said.

"We had a real watershed moment where we went 'Ah OK now we know exactly what this show is'. Every record since has been a delight. It's a great TV show to make. It's a lot of fun, very easy and relaxed and that comes across in the episodes."

This week's theme is television and Watts said guest star Frank Woodley is a hoot.

"Frank is just off-tap; he is so funny," he said.

"I love working on a TV show where I'm laughing my ass off just like the audience."

Watts was also impressed with author and director Graeme Blundell.

"He's got a wealth of experience, knowledge and stories," he said.

"The show's not just about comedians telling gags.

"For me, the marquee element of the show is that we get great stories from our panellists."

The show, incidentally, is named after the first clip its researchers watched while trawling through the ABC's archives. It was a news story from 1977 about a farmer who had adopted a monkey and taught it how to drive a tractor.

Topics:  abc the guide

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