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Flashpoint: Going behind the scenes of WA’s current affairs panel show

Voluntary assisted dying, Perth’s image problem, vegans vs farmers and the daylight saving debate.

These are just some of the Perth issues that Flashpoint has delved into airing from the beginning of September.

But far from the slick production that hits screens each Monday, it wasn’t that long ago that WA’s only panel show had no name and no set.

Yet, in the space of two months, Flashpoint has become a show which tackles, head-on, Perth issues for a Perth audience.

“This is something that hasn’t happened in Perth television for a long time, anywhere around the country actually – a program that looks a local issues for local people – and tries to make a difference,” Flashpoint executive producer Sandra Di Girolamo said.

Sandra Di Girolamo cut her teeth at Today Tonight 20 years ago, moved to Sunday Night before returning to Perth and joining the Flashpoint team.

“Everyone knows their job, and everyone is very good at their job, but it’s tense. It can get really feisty in the control room — let alone on the panel.”

The West Australian went behind the scenes to see the making of the panel show; from meetings and last ditch phone calls to the aforementioned tense control room moments and prickly panel discussions.

“Isn’t it amazing that we get to have these people with such different opinions in the one room together?” She said.

“When our guests arrive to our Seven West studios, we quite purposely keep them very separate to each other.

“We don’t want too much conversation between our guests before they actually get on set because we want that conversation to play out on set.”

There have been emotional stories and heated exchanges as vegan activists and cattle farmers have clashed, and daughters who helped their mother die a peaceful death shared their story of voluntary assisted dying in previous episodes.

Tough questions have been asked from the Flashpoint chair, which has become a hot seat for people invited to put the panellists to task.

“The person in the Flashpoint chair is always watching the rest of the show in the greenroom before they come on air, so it’s more about ‘I’ve heard what you’ve all been saying, and now here’s my point of view’, and every week that’s what we try to make the Flashpoint chair that point of difference.”

“Nowhere in the country is there a TV program that is part-television and part-newspaper, and we have the luxury then of a massive newsroom and so our story ideas, our talent suggestions all come from this massive pool of journalists that are working within the Seven West newsroom.”

Flashpoint airs each Monday on 7.

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