Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler, better known as anarchic comedy troupe, Doug Anthony All Stars, have collectively apologised for abusive letters sent to a TV critic in the 1990s.
Ferguson has apologised for five letters he reportedly faxed to Sun-Herald journalist Candace Sutton, whilst McDermott and Fidler (now a former member) expressed regret that they did not urge a retraction when they learned of his actions.
Ferguson sent them over several months in 1990, at the height of the trio’s success on ABC’s The Big Gig. and after a print review. They were faxed from ABC offices.
“My editor flick-passed me to the Fairfax lawyer, an old (and now dead) corporate solicitor unimpressed by my complaint,” she writes.
“He told me to ring ABC management, which I did.
“The ABC boss expressed some sympathy and said he’d have a word with the three comedians.
“But they were big stars, and the letters kept coming.”
Sutton today writes in News Corp her intent in publishing the letters is to explain that abusive letters do have an effect on women.
“I am not comparing myself with victims of actual physical sexual abuse — like the women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein who began the #metoo campaign, or sexual assault victims in the community,” she notes.
“But messages of hate are psychologically debilitating.”
After telling the trio she would be writing about the letters in the spirit of #metoo, they issued an apology:
“Tim Ferguson, Paul McDermott and their former colleague Richard Fidler, express an unreserved apology to journalist Candace Sutton for behaviour towards her when they were performing together as the Doug Anthony Allstars that was both offensive and unprofessional.
“Tim, who was responsible for the letter and drawing sent in 1990, says he deeply regrets sending them in response to a television review written by Candace, and acknowledges the hurt and offence caused by his actions. He apologises unreservedly.
“Paul and Richard were only made aware of the letter and drawings after Tim had sent them, and they expressed their dismay and disgust to him at the time. It was an appalling and stupid thing to do.
“However both Richard and Paul acknowledge that, having been made aware of their existence, they both should have urged Tim to retract these infantile messages and apologise for their content. They’re sincerely sorry for their failure to do so at the time.”
Doug Anthony All Stars recently undertook a reunion tour with Ferguson, McDermott and Paul “Flacco” Livingstone.”