Merrick Watts will host <i>Tractor Monkeys</i>.

Merrick Watts will host Tractor Monkeys.

THE ABC's new comedy quiz show, Tractor Monkeys, begins production this week in Sydney. The eight-part series, hosted by Merrick Watts and featuring team captains Dave O'Neil and Katie Dimond, draws on the ABC's archives to examine the ''trends, fads and social phenomena that have shaped us all''. Guests will include Ella Hooper, Noeline Brown, Adam Richard and Tom Ballard. It will air next year on ABC1.

Cultural export No.1

LOCAL production company Bearcage will co-produce a six-part documentary series with Chinese network CCTV-9. The Story of Australia will explore Australia's flora, fauna, geography, culture, industry and people, and will air in China and elsewhere overseas.

Watch Swisse

AUSSIE rules fans are used to being bombarded with ads for Swisse, the vitamins and supplements company. Now the group is hoping 200 million-odd American football fans in the US will help make it a household name as it makes a push into the largest consumer market in the world next year. The Australian Financial Review reported this week that Swisse chief executive Radek Sali, a former Village Roadshow executive, plans on spending about $50 million in marketing this year, up from $40 million last year, as he tries to turn the Melbourne-based business into a global brand.

Cultural export No.2

THE ABC is poised to export a fifth television program to the US market, cementing an unprecedented wave of international interest in emerging Australian talent. American networks are already circling the quirky ABC comedy A Moody Christmas, which launched only last week. The sale would follow similar deals for remakes of critically acclaimed dramas Rake and The Slap, and the quirky comedies The Strange Calls and Review with Myles Barlow. Before the interest in ABC programs, US adaptations have had mixed success. Their Kath & Kim tanked, and a planned adaptation of Packed to the Rafters never made it out of development. The SBS comedy Wilfred, remade by FX, has been a hit.

Unholy trinity

A POLL from the Australian National University says Australians view the media, unions and political parties as society's most corrupt institutions. But the public has strong confidence in the police and armed services - and is less likely to view individual politicians as corrupt. The ANU's Adam Graycar says concentration of ownership and the News of the World phone-hacking scandal contributed to the poor perception of the media.