The formula is simple: find a host, grab a celebrity, stick them in a car and get them talking (or singing).
It’s the formula that sends every single one of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke videos viral – Adele’s one alone has 104 million Youtube views – and that makes viewers keep returning again and again to Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series (100 million viewers and counting).
Now, we have our own version, thanks to Gold Logie nominee and hilarious SBS news anchor Lee Lin Chin, and the Sydney Writers' Festival (SWF). Spearheaded by two book publishers – Jeanne Ryckman and Kelly Fagan of Garvock Productions – the series sees a host of authors and comedians in town for SWF slide into the backseat of a sleek Uber town car to talk all things books with Lin Chin. The guest include this year’s Booker-prize winning author Marlon James, renowned Australian feminist and author Tara Moss, actor (and soon to be children’s picture book author) Richard Roxburgh and comedians Benjamin Law and Rosie Waterland.
The inspiration, Ryckmans says, came after attending the Jaipur literary festival earlier in the year, where commuting to and from events often proved to be surprisingly scintillating.
“Getting around Jaipur with writers in all manner of vehicles – two, three and four wheels – made for many interesting situations and conversations,” Ryckmans jokes. “The backseat of a car creates a confessional, and the idea of the show was to share with people the secrets of popular authors.”
WATCH: Benjamin Law and Lee Lin Chin in the first episode of Riding In Cars With Writers
After the seed was planted, Ryckmans and Fagan quickly cast their eye around for a host. The secret sauce lay in finding not only someone who was a book fanatic, but someone who could stay toe-to-toe with some of the funniest writers in the business. Answer? The SBS veteran and social media sensation Lee Lin Chin.
“[She] is a reader, naturally curious and as someone who doesn’t drive is a natural in the backseat of the car,” Ryckmans says. “She claims she does have a driver’s license (somewhere, we have yet to see proof) and we did toy with the idea of scaring authors by getting Lee Lin behind the wheel, but partnered with Uber instead.”
The nine episodes will air on SBS and via Youtube today and next Wednesday, but Ryckmans and Fagan already have plans to take the series global, targeting some of the biggest writer’s festivals all around the globe (think: New York, Edinburgh, and Jaipur again next year). Their dream host? Bill Murray. Watch this space.