Tim McDonald and Melanie Bracewell discuss the good fortune of The Cheap Seats

“This is the cherry on top”
Loading the player...

With a stroke of luck and science behind the laughs, The Cheap Seats has become a triumphant underdog story since it launched in 2021. The series, hosted by Melanie Bracewell and Tim McDonald, has found a loyal audience, who tune in each week to watch the pair humorously dissect the latest clips and news stories. In turn, they’re trying not to stuff it up.

“It’s a running joke on the show that Tim puts in a lot of hard work and I bring the vibes,” Melanie, 28, says. “I’ll scour the main news channels for content, while Tim will have watched and prepared clips from Slovenian TV.” [Laughs]

Melanie Tracina and Tim accepted the award.

(Image: TV Week)

Launching with no studio audience because of the COVID pandemic gave Tim and Melanie time to experiment with the format.

“We wanted to keep the stakes low for ourselves,” Melanie says. “We took up the timeslot that screened NCIS reruns, so we eased into it. Now, we’re confident to have fun with it – although, some NCIS fans were upset.” [Laughs]

Tim, 29, adds that the audience also played a huge part in the show’s success.

“We’re lucky that a small audience has found us and, through a bit of word of mouth, it’s spread around,” he says. “We have so much fun making the show, so the fact there are people who enjoy it is a real bonus.”

Now, in only its third season, The Cheap Seats has won the TV WEEK Logie Award For Most Outstanding Entertainment Program.

Melanie Bracewell and Tim McDonald at the 2022 TV WEEK Logies.

(Image: Getty)

It was previously nominated in 2022 for the public-voted award Most Popular Comedy Program, while Melanie was up for Best New Talent. Tim says the accolade is “such an honour” for the show, but a slight knock to their popularity.

“It means we’re no longer popular or funny to the public, but it’s still exciting,” Tim jokes of their industry-voted win. Melanie laughs, adding, “We’re grittier now.”

The co-hosts first met on Have You Been Paying Attention? and were asked by [production company] Working Dog if they would be interested in fronting a new show. Neither knew what to expect, but knew they were in good hands.

“We’re such Working Dog fans and are thrilled to be part of the family,” Tim says. “It was a surprise to do one episode, let alone multiple seasons, so this Logie is the cherry on top.”

Loading the player...

While Tim had worked his way up the ladder at Working Dog, New Zealand-born Melanie was across the Ditch doing the stand-up comedy.

“I had a lot riding on this, because I made the call to move countries,” she says. “Awkwardly flying back home with my tail between my legs isn’t ideal, especially because I had a big going-away party. [Laughs] But Tim and I were given so much freedom and trust to do this, which is both incredible and scary. To be the ones to bring down the legacy of Working Dog would be an honour.”

As they look ahead, Tim and Melanie are happy to keep bringing the laughs for as long as they can – or they’ll turn to reality TV.

“I had a lot riding on this.”

(Image: Getty)

“I can’t sing or dance and I’m allergic to everything, so I can’t go into the jungle [as a contestant on *I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!]*, so this might be it for the moment,” Tim jokes. “Honestly, it’s really the show we’ve wanted to make for a long time and it’s been a dream.”

Melanie adds that her teenage self wouldn’t have expected to end up here, but she’s glad she did.

“If you had asked me as a teenager, there would be no world in which I would say acting wasn’t on the horizon, but I think I peaked at school,” she says with a laugh.

“For now, The Cheap Seats is so much fun and we’re excited to bring more of our content. When we both get the giggles about something, we know we’re onto a winner.”

Related stories