Monday’s Experts, ABC review: playing sports comedy with a straight bat

Sporting banter and comedy combine in the ABC's latest stab at a format that's done well elsewhere.
Monday's Experts, hosts Tony Armstrong and Catherine Murphy ABC

Sport and comedy have been intertwined on Australian television for about as long as there’s been Australian television. Set a bunch of sports fans around a big desk and you’ll usually get some decent banter; throw a ball at a bunch of comedians and you’re bound to hit a couple of sports fans.

So, the only thing even slightly surprising about the ABC’s new sports panel show Monday Experts is that it’s taken the ABC so long to get a new sports panel show on the air. Maybe they previously figured the commercial networks had it covered. Past the usual collection of AFL and League panel shows, Seven’s The Front Bar has been a big hit in the AFL states for years and often branches out to cover other sports; sports stars are regular guests on Have You Being Paying Attention?, while The Cheap Seats has a weekly segment making fun of sports clips from around the world.

Possibly the ABC was burnt by the fizzle that was its last stab at sports comedy. Back in 2017 Fever Pitch had perhaps one of the worst pre-game run-ups ever, including a botched press release they had to take back and some ‘comedy’ coverage of an A-League soccer match that went down so badly the show was axed before it was even on the air – and then a very similar show with the same hosts titled The Sideliners took its place.

This time around, the ABC is taking zero chances. Monday Experts is playing the sports panel genre with a straight bat: hosts and ABC regulars, former footballer Tony Armstrong and Catherine Murphy, alongside panellists and comedians Broden Kelly and Lizzy Hoo, talk about sport in a light-hearted (Hoo) and knowledgeable (Kelly) fashion for half an hour or so. The twist here is that there is no twist.

Read: The Emu War film review: piss-farting brings the laughs

True blue formula

Do they make fun of sports-related news clips? Sure do. Is there a roving reporter comedian out there stirring up trouble? You bet. Do they get a moderately big name sporting figure on the desk to have some banter with? You know it. Does the guest take part in a regular display of sporting prowess that will result in their results being compared against that of future guests? Well, it’s no Reasonably Priced Car segment from Top Gear, but it is slightly amusing that the ABC can only afford a game of darts for this one.

There’s nothing wrong with this formula and this series handles it well. There’s also no clear reason why the ABC has decided they need to get in on the action. This is an area where the commercial networks are (for once) happy to provide local content; if you like this kind of thing, you’re already spoilt for choice.

And while the ABC can often argue (though not usually in public) that their audience is one that rarely looks beyond the ABC, we’re talking about sport here. If you like sport, you’re watching commercial television, because commercial television is where the sport is. So much so that commercial television is currently running a major ad campaign to try and pressure the government into making sure that sport remains on free-to-air commercial television even when streaming services are willing to pay more for it.

At a time when so many core functions of the ABC have gone missing, Monday Experts – at least in its first week – feels like it’s largely duplicating a service already available elsewhere. Hopefully future episodes will see it branch out, both in format and in the range of sports covered. The ABC has spent the last few years serving up variations of the same old panel chat format featuring many of the same old faces; it’s going to take more than just more of the same to create a winner.

Monday Experts is airing Weekly on ABC Mondays 9.30pm and on ABC iview.


3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday's Experts


Host: Tony Armstrong, Host, Catherine Murphy


Format: TV Series


Release: 17 June 2024

Available on:

abc iview

Anthony Morris is a freelance film and television writer. He’s been a regular contributor to The Big Issue, Empire Magazine, Junkee, Broadsheet, The Wheeler Centre and Forte Magazine, where he’s currently the film editor. Other publications he’s contributed to include Vice, The Vine, Kill Your Darlings (where he was their online film columnist), The Lifted Brow, Urban Walkabout and Spook Magazine. He’s the co-author of hit romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy, and he’s also written some short stories he’d rather you didn’t mention. You can follow him on Twitter @morrbeat and read some of his reviews on the blog It’s Better in the Dark.