Producers respond to calls for ABC comedy to be pulled off air

New ABC sketch show is keeping people working, but not all politicians are amused.

Liberal Senator and former TV presenter Sarah Henderson isn’t seeing the funny side of new lockdown comedy At Home Alone Together, taking to social media to insist ABC Chair Ita Buttrose “get this #&@* off air.”

It’s a strong reaction to the new sketch comedy, which is trying to find the lighter side of the current pandemic.

Henderson is a former presenter for TEN News, The 7:30 Report, The Investigators and Australia’s Most Wanted. Her view is arguably at odds with the government’s own position of supporting local content during this crisis (although it has also been criticised for lack of supporting the arts).

Producer Dan Ilic has responded to a question about just how many staff are employed on the show at a time when many artists are out of work.


The show did drop in its second week of viewing, from 466,000 to 387,000 meaning not everybody has tapped into its humour.

But At Home Alone Together is also a show that has scrambled to get on air in record time. It may not find its own voice until further into its life (there are 8 episodes so far commissioned). It may very possibly gravitate into another form well beyond current lockdown restrictions. Wilfred was once criticised for being a bong-smoking dog with public funding too. It went onto several seasons and a US adaptation.

Comedy takes time (something somebody who has worked in television should really appreciate).

But comedy also provokes, so perhaps that’s where the Senator comes in.

As host Ray Martin recently told TV Tonight, “It’s got to be edgy if it’s going to work, so in that sense we’re clearly going to upset some people and hopefully make most people laugh,” he warns.

“But that’s part of the fun of it. If comedy doesn’t upset at least some people, you’re probably not doing it right.”

12 Responses

  1. What? This was a comedy? I saw Ray Martin coming up in a show and that was enough for me not to watch. I love Dan Illic good on him but if you want people to think it’s a satire don’t use a non comedian, boring person like Ray Martin.

  2. It really is a terrible show. I couldn’t get past the first ten minutes. About as unfunny as it gets.
    But it’s Australian, giving people work, and given how many people are watching it much appeal to some. Rather that than another repeat of another reality show.

  3. Dear Sarah,
    Many things have been said about Mr. Packer but, let me assure you- having spoken with him the very next day after he ordered Naughtiest Home Video off air! – he never spoke in symbols (“#&@*)!!
    So he actually said to the on air coordinator on the night: “Get that shit off air!”
    Little known footnote : the coordinator explained that yes, it would be done at the next commercial break and then, before saying a word to her fellow operators, who knew that that the call had come from the Red Phone (Mr. Packer’s personal hot line to Nine) went around the control room and took all the other outside line phones, about 9, off the hook then told them what was to happen and how they’d do it – very savvy women.
    And thus it occurred – and the next day, Mr. Packer sent her flowers for her professionalism – courage under fire as it were.

    1. Only the Packers and Bruce Gyngell were the only ones who had the number of the red phone. Sheila, the coordinator, went through Telecine to the film department, grabbed an ep of Cheers, requesting the Telecine girls to “load this on 16-3 please. Need it in the next break”. The live booth announcer was briefed on what to say (no mention Packer, no mention ‘technical difficulties’). Alert the poor switchboard girl, Caroline. Caused a bit of dilemma as TCN9 was to join GTV at 9:32 for IMT. Seem to recall we made it. One was the continuity vision switcher that night. All was calm. Injected a little interest into the evening.

  4. I enjoyed the first episode, not so much the second. It’s very uneven. I don’t think yanking it off-air is the solution though – I’m sure it’ll find its feet.

  5. Oh Dear I would hate to think what Sarah Henderson would think if MAFS was on the ABC then …. but really it is not the worst thing on the ABC …. fine it isn’t perfect but …

  6. What about a show about psychic or medium or tarot cards readers using their abilities to comment or predict on all political issues , scandals and politicians? Actually quite funny as been watching a few on YouTube during Iso. Somethings like political satire

  7. So, let me get this right, a senator in the current government is calling for the independent chair of the national broadcaster to pull a program off air because she doesn’t think it’s funny? You’d think as a former journalist she’d remember that the previous chair of the ABC had to resign because he had tried to put editorial pressure on the broadcaster. What on earth does this government think it has the power to do?

    1. Mr Ilic’s justification of this show seems to be “we have some viewers and we are employing people”…. hopefully episode 3 gives him more reasons to support this show.

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