Australian commercial networks are letting down the team when it comes to locally produced Comedy, according to ABC Head of Programming, Brendan Dahill.
In the recent AACTA Awards every single Comedy nomination was produced by the public broadcaster, but “owning the field” is a risk when there is no competition.
“It would be nice if some of the others came to play, because the bar gets raised for all of us by having more competition out there. I would love Channel TEN to get involved in comedy. They’ve got Modern Family, one of the best comedies in the world on their network. They should be using that to build another comedy, shouldn’t they?” he asks.
“Stick an Aussie comedy in there.”
“Given the demo they’re chasing, and given where they’re at right now, they should man-up and make some comedy.
“If you look across every single network, you’ve got a big US comedy on each of the networks, and they back-to-back them with a repeat. Instead of playing a repeat, stick an Aussie comedy in there and try and grow something off the back off some of the biggest comedies in the world.
“I think it would be healthy for Australian comedy and healthy for us at the ABC to have some competition in this space. There is a danger of owning the field and I think it will be good for everybody. You can’t get enough. We shouldn’t be able to get enough of it.”
While Seven has produced two recent comedy titles for 7mate in Kinne and Bogan Hunters, Nine’s local comedies are largely confined to travel shows such as those by Hamish and Andy, while TEN has a long-running relationship with the Melbourne Comedy Festival for specials, plus comedic elements in Have You Been Paying Attention?, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, The Project and the short-lived This Week Live.
Foxtel has also announced two new comedy projects for the Comedy Channel.
ABC continues its commitment to the genre this year, with new and returning titles.
“Comedy is one of those areas that’s really important to the Australian identity, I think, and I’m really pleased that, when you see the AACTA nominations our recognition for being the home of comedy in Australia is cemented, so we’re not backing away from our commitment to Australian comedy. I’m really pleased that we can bring Utopia back, which I thought was amazing last year. Already it’s created its own catch phrases,” he continues.
“Obviously there’s a zeitgeistness about those characters and Australian politics, that is just tapped into a really valuable seam of comedy gold there. And add to that, what we’ve got, Please Like Me coming back for a 3rd season and it’s going to be on ABC. And we’ve got Sammy Jay & Randy doing probably the most out-there comedy of 2015. I think that makes for a really rich comedy mix.”
“One of the things I need to improve this year is our Wednesday night performance.”
But not everything has fired on ABC, with Dahill being frank about the need to improve.
“I think, when we look back at 2014, one of the things I need to improve this year is our Wednesday night performance.
“Obviously, I thought the Spicks And Specks‘ team made a brilliant interpretation of the new Spicks And Specks but the audience didn’t respond to it in quite the way we’d all hoped.
“Sadly, even though the team did an amazing job on that show − and I think it’s every bit as good as the original Spicks And Specks − that didn’t make it.
“There are a number of other shows that, sadly, didn’t make the grade out of 2014 that I loved, The Moodys being one of them. The Moodys is one of my favourite shows of all time but we needed to do some new things, so there are some things we couldn’t do anymore, to be able to do some new things. So, we’re looking at Wednesday nights and obviously we’re lucky to have Jon Casimir here with us at the ABC working on our entertainment slate with us. Adrian (Swift), Jon and I spend a lot of time worrying away at: what is the perfect ABC night on a modern Wednesday night?
“So, Reality Check is part of that on-going conversation about, what can we deliver to our audience and what do they want from us? As Mad As Hell, obviously, has made it and is now in its third year with us. I thought Chaser’s Media Circus at the end of last year was great. Utopia obviously worked.
“So, there are some things on Wednesday night that did work in 2014 that we want to continue and there are other bits that we need to improve.”