Melbourne television is noticeably queerer this month with the long-awaited return of Bent TV to community broadcaster Channel 31.

The first episode of new GLBTI variety show Alphabet Soup screened last week and was celebrated by Bent TV cast and crew at a launch party at DT’s Hotel in Richmond.

Bent TV vice-president Paul Anthony told the Star Observer that after a two-year hiatus it’s exciting to see Bent TV return to local television screens.

“It’s great to have content for the GLBTI community back on air,” Anthony said.

“I think the best thing about the show is that on Channel 31 you have an accidental audience, so people who may have recently come out, or parents of children who may have come out have the chance to tune in and watch the show.

“They don’t have to tune into a specific gay channel, but gay content is there … so that’s important.”

So far six episodes of the half-hour show have been produced and feature a panel of five — including Anthony, Peter de Groot, Linzi Kurlieff, Malice Black and Travis de Jonk — who will interview guests and discuss GLBTI issues of the day.

For upcoming episodes the guest list includes Melbourne Queer Film Festival director Lisa Daniel, cabaret drag performer Kaye Sera, longtime community volunteer Yvonne Gardner, and magician Cath Jamison. A special show looking at transgender issues will also be screened in coming weeks.

Bent TV has been around since 1993 and has had stretches on and off air during that time. When it as almost at breaking point last year, an attempt was made to revive the volunteer organisation for a relaunch in 2011 and a new board was appointed.

Bent TV relies on money from memberships, donations and sponsorship to survive and is currently using studios and equipment from Channel 31 to produce Alphabet Soup.

Anthony said there is still lots of work required to get the organisation back up and running, but starting a new show is the first step.

“Over the years [equipment] has been broken or stolen or is just out of date … so we’ll have to work on that,” he said.

“It’s hard to get sponsorship if you’re not on air, if people can’t see anything, so hopefully the new show will get interest back up.”

Alphabet Soup screens on Channel 31 on Mondays at 9.30pm.

info: Visit the Bent TV Facebook page

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