Airdate: Tick F***ing Tock

Comedy troupe The Doug Anthony All Stars reunite in a 2 part ABC documentary Tick F***ing Tock.

This tells the story of how Paul McDermott, Richard Fidler and Tim Ferguson (DAAS Kapital) disbanded in 1994 after riding a comedy wave. But it wasn’t until 12 years later McDermott & Fidler discovered Tim had Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Decades later Ferguson and McDermott reunited to tour with Paul Livingston for comedy success all over again.

This two-part documentary series, Tick F***ing Tock, screening from Tuesday 2 October at 9.30pm on ABC & ABC iview, chronicles the story of the bad boys of Australian comedy – and for the first time they confront how Tim’s MS impacted on their friendships at each step to international stardom. This is also an enduring love story between Tim and Paul, two of our greatest creative minds with the same confrontational attitude they’ve always had. All the while knowing that time is not on their side – Tick F***ing Tock…

“You can’t help seeing what’s going on between these two guys and how long they’ve been together and what they’ve been through and they’re still going through. It’s a really, really moving thing for the audience, you know I’ve got to admit it, it occasionally gets to me as well…” Paul Livingston.

Curated by comedy curmudgeon Ted Robinson, who gave the Allstars their first Australian break on the TV program The Big Gig, for the first time Tim, Paul and Richard discuss why the group broke up and the sadness of watching Tim deal with his debilitating illness – and in Allstars’ style, they can’t help being candid, moving, irreverent and funny.

From the ages of 19 to 32, Tim experienced random symptoms – crossed eyes, tingling, numbness – that were finally diagnosed as MS a year after the Allstars broke up. Throughout the film Tim talks about how it took him a long time to connect the dots about his illness.

The series features the Allstars’ outrageous acts from The Big Gig and DAAS Kapital and their best songs, ranging from the controversial – Funk You and World’s Greatest Kisser – to their classic covers – Throw Your Arms Around Me and I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Episode one focuses on the group’s first 10 years. From buskers on the streets of Canberra in the mid-1980s, they quickly became huge stars in the UK. But in 1994 Tim called it quits and the Allstars broke up. Paul and Richard were devastated, with the group on the verge of true international success. It was another 12 years until Tim finally confessed to them that he had MS.

In episode two the Allstars reform 30 years later as the “cripple” (Tim Ferguson, now in a wheelchair), the “superstar” (Paul McDermott) and the “pensioner” (Paul Livingston). And once again, even after the confronting reality of Tim’s illness on and offstage, they quickly find success.

They make a triumphant return to the Edinburgh comedy festival, with their shows described as more brilliant than ever. Audiences are moved by Paul McDermott finding the lighter side of Tim’s MS and their audacious humour and angelic songs.

Paul Livingston observes how the show is about “falling apart, about being old, about not being able to cope any more. It works really well because we are not really acting. None of us.”

While Tim assures the audience he will probably die before them … Tick F***ing Tock…

Production Credits: Tick F***ing Tock is a Little Round Top production for GNW TV. Produced in association with the ABC by Ted Robinson and Anna Cater. ABC Head of Factual: Steve Bibb. ABC Commissioning Editor: Julie Hanna.

Tuesday 2 October at 9.30pm on ABC.


  1. Really looking forward to this, got part of the story when Tim Ferguson was on Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and how and why he didn’t tell people about his Multiple Sclerosis and his regrets on how he left DAAS, so getting the other view on it will be great.

  2. battlestargalactica

    Pleased to see Richard Fidler back in the mix. Presumably his ABC commitments prevented him from touring in recent times but part of me wondered if there was something else going on behind the scenes. They’re not DAAS without Richard.

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