Tom Ballard has made an impassioned plea to ABC executives to keep making risky comedy shows.
In his final episode of Tonightly, Ballard thanked cast and crew before a direct address to the ABC executives who axed his show after 9 months on air.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the ABC,” he said.
“I have a fundamental love of this place. I think the ABC is incredible and we are so lucky to have made this show at all. Thank you dear friends at the ABC for making the show happen at all. It is sad that it’s ending now but it just could not have happened anywhere else. Maybe at SBS perhaps on half the shit budget but that we had. It is incredible there have been (people) at this network who have championed the show and made it work so thank you so much.
“We have to value the ABC. This place is incredible. It’s under threat a little bit at the moment, it feels like that… but I’m so thankful for the ABC. Not just because they give me jobs sometimes, but as a viewer and as a listener as an Australian I really think that this place is vital for our culture and for our country.
“And if you love the ABC please let people know about it, please defend it and cherish it.
“Please, please, please do not stop making things like this. Please do not stop making risky and subversive and fun…. and bat-shit crazy and boundary-pushing shit like Tonightly. Particularly stuff for young people.
“Keep making stuff, keep taking risks. It’s not happening anywhere else on mainstream, Free to Air Australian television.”
Tonightly was axed due to its low ratings on ABC Comedy after launching last December as the new channel’s flagship show. Charged with producing a nightly satire, it attracted an online cult following but also found itself in hot water over controversial sketches (being recently cleared by the ACMA watchdog).
Last night a free-wheeling Ballard acknowledged the show hadn’t been perfect, but also drew attention to moments of glory.
“Sometimes it was really shit! I’m on screen most of the time. I’ll take the cop for that. I do a lot of shit things on television and you sat through it -or you you didn’t and that’s why it’s ending,” he joked.
“Sometimes we were really quite good. And then every once in a while I think we were extraordinary. I really believe that. Every now and again we were making some of the funniest and most interesting and different and original and important comedy on Australian television.
“And I’m so proud of that, particular over the past couple of months. I’m so so proud of that and I think that should be acknowledged.”