Naughty but nice for nostalgia

Myf Warhurst’s first series since wrapping Spicks and Specks is a look back at Australian culture, predominantly in the 70s and 80s, celebrating all those things from our past that didn’t seem so grand at the time, but are now regarded with affection.

The Chiko Roll. The Big M. Solo drinks. Blue Light Discos and more….

Falling under the banner of all things “nice” is deliberately evasive. Warhurst explains that describing something as “Nice” is a bit of a euphemism for something that very probably isn’t.

Myf Warhurst’s Nice is perfect because ‘nice’ says ‘ohhh that’s nice’ rather than ‘that’s great’ or ‘that’s good.’ It does capture the essence of the series,” she says.

“It’s a way of saying things are ok. Some things are great but some things are not particularly good and had no impact whatsoever.”

In the first episode “Nice and Easy Listening” she explores her first musical loves, and meets up with an early pop hero, Kenny Rogers in Atlanta, who even agreed to warble Islands in the Stream with her.

“He knew how to play along and wasn’t too concerned that we didn’t want to talk about his latest album!” says Warhurst.

“We just put in a request for an interview. I’m not sure that Kenny gets a lot of requests for interviews these days…

“But what a good sport he was. To sing Islands in the Stream with him was unexpected but I couldn’t help myself.”

Others familiar faces in the series include Peter Russell Clarke, actress Chantal Contouri, Matt Preston, the original Chiko Roll poster girl and the lead singer from Wa Wa Nee.

“It was so much fun putting together the list of people that I wanted to talk to. People like Peter Russell Clarke, Kenny Rogers –it’s definitely a blast from the past, but a fun one that’s for sure,” she says.

“I think that probably the lovely thing about doing the show was looking back. There was so much stuff that you think maybe it wasn’t that important to us at the time, but in hindsight all that stuff that surrounds us that we don’t give credit to sometimes actually shapes who we become.”

Other episodes look back on food, fashion, photography, art and design.

TV cook Elizabeth Chong makes an appearance in the second episode and reveals it was her father who created the modern Dim Sim.

“He didn’t invent the Dim Sim, but he did invent the Dim Sim as we know it. The one you see in supermarket fridges. He was the first to manufacture in a large way the Dim Sim, in an Australian style,” says Warhurst.

“To me the Dim Sim says more about us than the Meat Pie, which we just borrowed from someone else.

“The Dimmy has real cultural and historical significance.”

The Chongs were also the first to create the Fried Dim Sim.

“They were driving down to the beach and they had a whole lot of Steamed Dim Sims and they put them into the deep fryer at the local Greek Fish and Chip Shop and that’s how that began.”

Warhurst has just returned from an extended holiday overseas after the lengthy Spicks and Specks Farewell Tour. But isn’t she too young to be making a series that looks back on her life?

She doesn’t see it that way.

“I’m one year off 40 so I don’t think that’s too young. I’m feeling old, put it that way,” she insists.

“It wasn’t my intention originally. What I planned to do was a series on the ‘ordinary,’ the ‘nice’ things that surrounded us. But the ABC obviously want a personal angle, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if anyone was interested.

“The thing with my stuff is hopefully a lot of things are relatable, teen passions for music stars that may or may not matter in the future, dodgy food that we ate when we were younger, that kind of thing.

“I like to see it as things I can look back on and say ‘Ok, now I can put a full stop on that and move on.’ Rather than my history being important I think it’s more a universal look.

“The only problem with the title is people think it’s about me being nice. Which is not true at all. If that were the case I’d want to call it Myf Warhurst’s a Mole, but I’m sure they wouldn’t let me do that!”

With the lengthy Spicks tour almost substituting for another TV season Warhurst says she isn’t missing the show just yet, but admits that in time it could be a different story.

“I miss the boys terribly although I saw Adam last week when he came to London and I can’t wait to see Alan again. It’s probably this time next year that I’ll really feel it. But what a luxury to be involved in a show that people watched and liked and we got to go out on a nice note rather than getting sacked,” she says.

Only on a nice note?

“On a high note!”

Myf Warhurst’s Nice airs 8pm Wednesdays on ABC1.

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