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Must Watch reviews The Newsreader

Every week, the Must Watch podcasters review the biggest TV and streaming shows.

This week, Hayley Campbell and Scott Bryan review The Newsreader.

The Australian newsroom drama provides an insight into the fast-paced world of the 1980s and the people who brought us our nightly news.

Anna Torv and Sam Reid in The Newsreader

Scott says "As a news nerd, you get sucked in"

It is a Must Watch. It is basically in the mix between Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom and Apple TV's The Morning Show. Some shows set in newsrooms don't work because they feel too worthy. This series doesn't fall into that trap because it is set right back in the '80s. You end up getting sucked into how it looks at news reporting in the pre-internet era, when news was confirmed by phone, tape or video.

I also like all of the small touches. There's a moment when a character gets promoted and he immediately tells his parents to look out for him on the TV. Later, on air, he speaks way too fast because they get completely nervous when they land a big role. They also capture of small nuances that still happen on TV. For example, if they are interviewing someone on the street, they would film the presenter's reaction even though they are fake. They turn the cameras back to the interview and show them nodding. As a news nerd, you get sucked into watching such things like this.

I wasn’t so taken by the characters that much. There were some moments where it felt a bit like Stranger Things, it was reveling in the 1980’s and trying to make it feel as 80’s as possible. But I like the fact it’s set in the pre-internet era, because if it was set now, it would just consist of people being on Google. It also makes you realise how much has changed in our society in only 30 years.

Sam Reid as Dale Jennings in The Newsreader

Hayley says "it’s kind of another world. A very beige world, but I liked it"

I thought this was great. It shows the workings of a TV news channel and how much work goes into small segments, and how many people are involved in it. It goes into what makes a newsreader great, and what makes people trust them, and how much work it takes to look like something took no work at all. None of this is new — the TV news channel has been a setting for lots of shows before: The Morning Show, Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, even Anchorman did it.

It’s a great place to set a story, but I think the performances in this are what make it. Anna Torv, who I loved in Mindhunter, is also brilliant in this (I didn’t realise she’s actually Australian, I thought she was American). The writing is also great, and I love the fact that they’ve set it in this era that had so much news that we all know about — like the Challenger disaster, or Chernobyl, or Lindy Chamberlain’s baby being taken by a dingo — but we’re watching it as if the news is just breaking, and they’re replaying footage constantly because there’s nowhere else for anyone to see it. It's not like anyone in 1986 was going to get it off Twitter. So it’s kind of another world. A very beige world, but I liked it.

The Newsreader is available now on BBC iPlayer.

Must Watch is released as a podcast every Monday evening from BBC Sounds and all other good podcast providers.

This week, the team also review The Baby on Sky Atlantic and Channel 4’s Help! We Bought a Village.

Click here to listen to the latest episode.

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