Gunnedah born comedian Tom Gleeson put Tamworth tourism in the national spotlight on Wednesday night.
His tongue-in-cheek jibe at the city on prime time ABC show, The Weekly, has divided residents, though civic leaders say that any publicity can be good publicity and that Mr Gleeson’s TV opinion was a sham.
In the first ever segment of the Getaway take-off #Go Away, Mr Gleeson lists several reasons why not to visit the country music capital, suggesting the best way from Sydney to Brisbane is via Gunnedah, or to stay on the coast, “where there is a lot less Tamworth.”
He even sat down with Mayor Col Murray and country artist Beccy Cole, who both reminded him of his Gunnedah heritage, as they defended the crown of the North West.
“The interview was a bit different and a bit confronting, but in the light hearted context of a comedy show, I didn’t think it looked too bad,” Mr Murray said.
“I told him that either he was right or the 50,000 smiling visitors in town that day were wrong.
“He actually admitted that he hadn’t been here for a while and was really enjoying the festival. He said he loved the feel of the town, which is contrary to what he said on the show.”
President of the Tamworth Business Chamber Jye Segboer thought the #Go Away segment was so funny he shared it on his Facebook account first thing Thursday morning, although he did have a warning for the comic.
“We are pretty thick skinned around here, so I think we will be happy to laugh it off. Anything that puts a destination at the top of anyone’s mind can only be a good thing, maybe people will drive through Tamworth for a look, and avoid Gunnedah,” Mr Segboer said.
“I understand that the ABC budget can only stretch ‘to a tolerable level’, but he should be careful of the hand that feeds, as 25 per cent of all Australian produce comes out of the New England North West region – so there is plenty going on.”
Mr Gleeson however did garner some support for his cause around the city, with Facebook comments going either way on the issue.
Tamworth Hotel bartender Natalie Pattison even agreed with most of his sentiments.
“It was pretty funny, and he did make some good points,” Ms Pattison said.
“Tamworth needs more things to do, but I still like living here.”