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ABC's Q&A returns with experimental Q&A Extra

The ABC's lightning rod for national debate and controversy Q&A returns to our screens on Monday night and it will literally be bigger than ever – with a post-show play-by-play called Q&A Extra making its debut to kick off the 2017 season.

Tapping into the audience and media interest that has given Q&A a post-broadcast after-life like no other program on television, the "soft launch" of Q&A Extra will be hosted by Tracey Holmes on ABC News Radio nationwide and broadcast as a Facebook Live event each week, starting immediately after the traditional television broadcast ends.Tony Jones returns to screens on Q&A come Monday.

Q&A's executive producer Peter McEvoy told Fairfax Media: "We've come up with a new idea to focus some of that interest. The audio of Q&A is already carried by News Radio and they're going to start up a program talking about what happened as soon as the program finishes."

The first panel for the year is Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, federal minister Josh Frydenberg, visiting American teenage climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Donald Trump supporter Helen Andrews and Menzies Research Centre fellow Daisy Cousens.Q&A returns with a program coming out of Melbourne, a move keeping with the decision in 2016 to do more broadcasts away from its Sydney headquarters.

The debut episode of Q&A Extra will see host Holmes joined by guest Georgina Downer, a prominent Victorian Liberal Party member and daughter of the former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

McEvoy said Holmes and her weekly guest would take talkback calls and Twitter and Facebook questions from viewers keen to continue the debate after the program.

"They'll respond to Twitter and Facebook comments … and basically get people's instant assessment of what happened on the program, whether they like what Daniel Andrews said or Josh Frydenberg said, or what they thought about the questions or what they thought about Tony [Jones], whether they liked his tie, basically whatever they like," he said.

"It will be relatively basic. Like all these things, I like to think of them as a step-by-step experiment. You try it and see how people respond and modify it as you go along and see what people like and what they take up and whether it works.

"It will be relatively modest at the beginning but I think there will be a fair bit of interest. It will be an alternative to turning to your friend on the couch and telling them what you thought about the show."

The length of Q&A Extra will also be a work in progress, McEvoy said. It is initially expected to run up to the hour after the end of the TV broadcast – 11pm AEST with daylight saving –but, "it might go for an extra half hour if there's a lot of interest and people wanting to be part of the conversation".

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