SBS drops controversial comedy at request of Kovco family

EXCLUSIVE: SBS has dumped a controversial episode of Swift & Shift Couriers after the family of Jake Kovco expressed concerns about its storyline.

EXCLUSIVE: SBS has dropped an episode of its Swift and Shift Couriers comedy after the family of Jake Kovco expressed concerns over a storyline which sees its characters delivering the ashes of a deceased Australian soldier.

In the first of its two-part storyline which aired on Monday night, “Soldier David Cobbgrove’ died during a booby-trapped accident in Iraq, but the military bungles the transportation of his remains, sent to Cairo. After the ‘family’ of the soldier bans the military from further involvement, the hapless courier company comes to the rescue in order to lift its company profile.

For the big budget two part storyline, the show shot on location in Cairo and Thailand.

As ‘Mario’ (Paul Fenech) and ‘Melissa’ (Melissa Tkautz) head overseas to retrieve the ashes, most of the first episode takes place in a stopover at a resort in Thailand.

“SBS was approached by members of Jake Kovco’s family who expressed concern at some of the content in this week’s episode of Swift and Shift Couriers,” an SBS spokesperson told TV Tonight.

“After reviewing next week’s episode and in light of the impending memorial service for an Australian soldier recently killed in Afghanistan, SBS exercised sensitivity and made a decision not to broadcast the second episode of Swift and Shift Couriers scheduled for next week.”

Private Jake Kovco was fatally wounded in a firearm accident in Iraq in 2006.

In the unaired episode, as seen by TV Tonight, the urn containing the fictional ashes is mistaken for drugs and stolen by Egyptians, including being sniffed as ‘black cocaine.’ It eventually arrives back home after a comedy of errors. As is the style of the show’s humour, there are several references to “the dead guy.”

Fenech, who created the Pizza series is the Couriers creative force as writer / director / actor / producer. His comedy style thrives on being crude, rude, working class and knockabout, but gains a cult following.

SBS says the scheduling change was an editorial decision.

It will now skip episode 7 entirely and jump forward to eps 8 and 9, the final in the series.

21 Responses

  1. Agreed Guy, if people can’t see the humor in something, they often tend to denigrate those that do. It somehow validates their position to assume the moral higher ground. I think Paul Fenech is a hoot and I couldn’t give a tinkers what others thought about it, they don’t have to watch it nor are they forced to endure it. They have a choice.

    Oh well, here’s hoping for a web-release or something.. 8^/

  2. I tuned in last night in anticipation to watch part 2 of the Kovco spoof.
    I was so disappointed to see that it had been replaced with another episode.
    Part 1 was the funniest episode I’ve seen so far, such a shame to miss out on part 2.
    Swift and Shift is without doubt the funniest show on tv. So refreshing that they can make fun of everything when all we normally see is politicially correct crap everywhere else!!

  3. WereTigger, we posters will decide when to stop discussing this.

    Swift and Shift is the hands down best series 0f 2008 and one missing episode is a blow to fans!

  4. Seems that the pro-Fenech camp are somewhat childish & headstrong,
    & the anti-Fenech would have him executed whatever he does.
    The “any publicity is good publicity” stance would be more credible
    if the topic was bold, brave & original rather than the
    rather sad & offensive premise for a trivial sitcom episode.
    It’s not really worth anyones further time discussing this..

  5. I’m all for being “non-PC” in comedy, but there’s still a divide between being wittily black-humoured and just being offensive for the sake of being offensive. Both South Park and Family Guy often veer between the two poles, though arguably with more success than failure. Fenech’s stuff is just sloppy, tasteless and never builds a decent gag for jumping into the muck.

  6. You above posters have got it all wrong!
    Fenech is clever.
    I am guessing Fenech just wanted the free publicity for his new series…so he did a touchy episode like this.
    Just watch, the non-Iraq eps of Swift and Shift will rate through the roof after all this debate.

  7. Unfortunately when people start talking about “freedom of speech”, they often mean that they want to say something without any regard for the accuracy or the consequences of their actions. They also don’t appreciate retaliatory free speech that their words generate. 🙂
    I suspect that the theory of free speech means so many different things to different people, that no consensus is possible. Thus SBS hedged its bets…

    I’d plump for “you can do as you like as long as you don’t hurt others”, but that’s a bit simplistic. Oh well. 🙂

  8. Gemma, it’s not the first time SBS have declined to air something. Remember the South Park episode “Bloody Mary”? Anyway, I’m sure the episode will turn up on DVD in time.

    Oh and as for The Wedge, I’ll happily keep slagging it off. Yes, I accept that some of the cast are talented (we’ll have to agree to disagree on Rebel Wilson), but that show wasn’t just bad, it was insulting.

  9. Didn’t somebody say we are quickly losing any rights we have to free speech and expression in Australia?

    SBS used to be prepared to show or say things that no other network had the guts to, but that’s rapidly softening now that it answers to the PC sensitivities of its commercial sponsors.

    I hope Paul posts the missing ep on the web somewhere so that those who appreciate his un-PC satire can see it.

  10. There’s a fine line between an affectionate spoof & being offensive for the sake of being offensive.
    I have the nasty feeling Fenech headed for the latter in this case. It might have been better to make the parallels less obvious & blatant… then SBS might have had more chance of calling it “Art” & airing it.

    Kicking the feelings of an innocent family when they’re obviously down is not the publicity any TV
    company would appreciate right now. Pity… I kinda liked Part 1 aside from the “spoof” details.

  11. What a terrible disappointment. I would have expected better from SBS.

    Fans of the show should express their dismay at this self-censorship by contacting SBS:

    Phone: 1800 500 727
    Email: [email protected]
    Mail: Locked Bag 028, Crows Nest NSW 1585

    Please do contact them. We can’t afford to lose the one broadcaster we have who would have been willing to give this show’s production the green light in the first place!

  12. I don’t think Paul Fenech would be deliberately trying to piss off the Kovco family…so it’s a shame SBS has banned this episode – when did SBs start banning things anyway? Aren’t they suppossed to air anything.

    Oh and P.T. Ryan – The Wedge as a whole may not have been brilliant but it was an important stepping stone for some of our most interesting writer/perfromerS: Adam Zwar, Rebel Wilson, Jason Gann…stop slagging it off!

  13. I loathe Paul Fenech’s work. Its slapdash, shoddy, and juvenile, without even being even occasionally funny. His fans seem to defend his work as being “non-PC” as if that excuses total lack of talent, wit and cleverness on display.

    The only thing worse than Fenech’s show’s is The Wedge, and that’s about it.

Leave a Reply