Steven ‘Bajo’ O’Donnell is about to make the move into comedy with a new ABC ME / iview series, Trip For Biscuits.
O’Donnell is co-creator of the sci-fi comedy about inept space detectives. But first we have to talk about the elephant in the room -ABC’s axing of Good Game.
ABC management axed the decade-long gaming series suddenly last month after having previously confirmed its return in 2017 the week before.
O’Donnell confirms it was a shock decision for everybody concerned.
“It was very sudden and to be honest our whole team are still getting over it. We were all expecting to come in and do a year of the show,” he said.
“But the way the dice rolled Steph and Nich decided to go to Channel Seven to make a new show because they saw a great opportunity with that. So the ABC looked at that as a moment to say, ‘Well, let’s end on a high.’
“They were 10 great years and I am reaching an acceptance with it now. I’m mourning it still, so sad I won’t be doing it every week because it was a dream job.”
The decision drew an emotional reaction from the show’s loyal ABC2 audience. O’Donnell received hundreds of messages from distraught fans.
“They have actually flawed me. I had no idea our little show about games had such an impact on people,” he continues.
“But the curtain always comes down sometime and every moment I got to work on Good Game I never took for granted. I always assumed next week it would be over.”
“When you lose 2 of the 5 presenters …. that changes that confidence.”
Good Game had been planning changes for 2017 including recording the show on the day of broadcast. But after Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen and Nich ‘Nichboy’ Richardson advised of their departure, management decided to wrap the series.
‘Hex” later outlined on social media that management had effectively lost enthusiasm for the show and it was on borrowed time anyway. O’Donnell isn’t sure if that’s the case.
“We were commissioned for a whole year so I took that our plans we had reached last year (as a vote of) confidence. But when you lose 2 of the 5 presenters who are such a big part of the show that changes that confidence.
“So who knows if it would have gone for 1 month, 6 months or another 10 years?”
Meanwhile Trip for Biscuits, an 18×10 minute series sees O’Donnell and his misfit crew tackling bizarre space missions. But not for actual biscuits?
“Trip for Biscuits is a hard-boiled term for a journey that yields little or no rewards,” he explains.
“The theme of the show is we are the worst detectives ever and we often have ‘technical wins’ where solve a case, but maybe we end up taking out the person we were trying to solve it for, in the process.
“We make a mess of every situation. So it’s disaster comedy.
“It’s like Red Dwarf meets the world of Buffy but with Aliens meets Archer.”
“I always wanted a nickname at school”
Co-created with director Dave Cartel and producer Timothy Powell, filming took place during Melbourne last August.
Joined by actors Charlotte Nicdao, Kate Mylius, Reef Ireland and Mansoor Noor, O’Donnell will even play ‘Bajo’ in the series. So does that mean ‘Bajo’ is a nickname or an on-screen persona? It’s a grey area, he laughs.
“I’ve been ‘Bajo’ well before Good Game. It was my gaming name that I used online.
“We don’t reference Good Game or video games at all. It’s more like the ‘sciency / nerdy’ Bajo.
“Spawn Point and ABC3 Smackdown ‘Bajo’ is slightly different. He lives in a world where you can fly into space on the back of a robot,” he explains.
“But it’s also an extrapolation of my personality as well. So it’s grey area. It’s kind of the Bajo I wish I could be but I’m glad I’m not.
“The character is more awkward than ‘Bajo’ in real life –but not by much.
“The only people who don’t call me ‘Bajo’ are girlfriends and family. It’s been my name for 15 years.
“I always wanted a nickname at school but I could never get anyone to call me anything.”
For the record ‘Bajo’ will be credited as performed by Steven ‘Bajo’ O’Donnell.
The series will launch in entirety on iview this Friday with a broadcast yet to be scheduled on ABC ME. O’Donnell is interested to see if the show also has adult appeal too.
With the end of Good Game, O’Donnell next turns his attention to Spawn Point in a new format for ABC, and fingers crossed for more of Trip for Biscuits.
“There’s excitement about what’s next. I don’t really know what I will do next in the adult gaming space but I want to do something.”
Trip For Biscuits screens on iview from Friday.