Carol Ferrone: “Even our off time is to the period.”

On camera, off camera, living in the back of a shop for 10 weeks -the Ferrones keep it real on ABC's Back in Time for the Corner Shop.

Shane Warne once admitted that on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here he was allowed to smoke off camera, which is something of a revelation to Carol Ferrone.

Appearing for a third season of ABC’s Back in Time franchise, she emphasises just how authentic the experience is for her family.

“Everything we do -whether we are on camera or not- is to the period. We eat the food of the period. Even our underwear is to the period,” she tells TV Tonight.

“Like, I would say to Wardrobe, ‘The audience does not know what bra and undies I’m wearing?’

“‘Oh but ABC does!'” was the reply.

That means no social media, no phones, no television even when the cameras aren’t rolling.

“It’s not like you can go watch Netflix! We got a TV the decade that Australia got a TV. We got radio -or the wireless- the decade that Australia did. Even in leisure time Olivia, our youngest, was playing quoits or had a hula hoop. In the ’70s she got totem tennis, but I’m not sure if it makes it on camera.

“So even our off time is to the period.”

Back in Time for the Corner Shop sees Peter & Carol Ferrone and their children Julian, Sienna and Olivia navigate the highs and lows of being shopkeepers through 150 years of Australian history and the social, economic and historic changes that shape how we shop, live and connect as a community.

Filming took place over 10 weeks in 2022 in a corner shop in Botany, in Eastern Sydney. True to the immersive experience, the family even lived on site cramped in the back of the store.

“It wasn’t actually a very big store. We had three bedrooms in the back, so the girls had one, Julian shared his with the Wardrobe department and Peter and I had ours,” she continues.

“When we get the call about another season the kids get really excited. They are happy to do it. When we’re there, look, there are moments… it’s a small shop, there’s us, there’s cameramen, there’s the crew, producers. There are times when the kids are thinking, ‘God, there’s nowhere to go!’ So there are moments of frustration.

“But overall it is honestly a great experience. I love it 110% of the time, I’m singing, dancing, I’m getting in people’s ways. I’m chatting with everybody from the cleaner to the director to producers to everybody. They’re telling me to shut up on set!

“Going into it as a family we protect each other.”

“The ABC doesn’t have a reputation for doing anything untoward. Going into it as a family we protect each other. Obviously because we film together, if there was anything to come up that we thought was inappropriate for the kids, we would intervene. That has never happened.

“It’s never been a concern, to be honest. Out family has always been our number one priority.”

This season is the first not to focus entirely on food, and also includes members of the public who were able to shop with the Ferrones and share in the ‘time travel’ experience.

“We were basically the brains behind the business”

Once again, the female members of the family unit have a tough time.

“Women like me and my daughters, who like to talk, like to socialise,” she explains.

“We were basically the brains behind the business. We were making the products, we were doing everything, but we couldn’t be out there socialising. I think we definitely got the raw deal. What were the boys doing? They were just out the front selling the stuff!”

When the series reaches the Spanish Flu in Australia in 1919 the Ferrone women are even seen sewing face masks -ironic given that shooting in 2022 still required strict health monitoring for cast and crew during the Covid pandemic.

“Funny how history repeats itself,” says Ferrone.

“But Julian is not in our 1970s episode. We are very upfront with the audience. At the beginning of the episode, we tell them that Julian did contract COVID.

“We’re honest and authentic with the audience. Even though it’s 1970 on camera it’s 2022 when we’re filming this!”

Guests this series include Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt, John Doyle, Lex Marinos, Ita Buttrose, Linda Burney, Pam Burridge and Craig Foster all relating how societal shifts have shaped our culture and lives.

“It’s a very nostalgic series”

“The guests are great but for me, the thing that stands out is the nostalgia that Australians feel for their corner shop,” she reflects.

“When the idea was pitched, to be honest I wasn’t that keen. I didn’t think that the audience would really take to this one. But it’s a very nostalgic series. We go from 1850 to 1999. And it’s really the journey from being the pillars of the community.

“When we start we really are the centre of the community. You go to your corner shop for your staples bread, milk, fresh fruit and veg, but it’s the centre of gossip and news and it’s the demise of that, unfortunately, and now competing with the supermarkets.”

With her eldest children now 22 and 19, Carol Ferrone isn’t sure how many more seasons may be in the offing, but she continues to engage with classrooms and fans who have come to appreciate history through their eyes.

On that front, Ferrone also is quick to point out the show’s unsung heroes.

“The set, the clothing, every fork, every poster …the attention to detail is absolutely phenomenal. Our Art Department deserve a Logie.”

Back in Time for the Corner Shop 8pm Tuesday on ABC.

6 Responses

  1. Wow, now that’s commitment! I love this series, it’s fascinating to watch. The Ferrones are a great choice too. They’re so down to earth and likeable. Thanks. 🙂

  2. The Ferrones are part of the drawcard and success here. Like Carol says, they are fully commited and it shows.

    I missed the first series Back in Time for Dinner and caught the second series Further back in Time for Dinner and was hooked straight away.

  3. Having watched the entire UK serious on Lifestyle and the commitment needed to do this kind of show to make it authentic I applaud the Ferrones. I enjoy watching how life was “back in the day” and how far we have come. Australia took on some of Englands ideas but we put our own unique Aussie twist on them. I had several relatives who owned corner stores, going to them with a string bag, a purse with a note and money to pay for what my mother needed and getting to spend the change on whatever which was often lollies, an icey pole or a bag of broken biscuits was a joy. Having to ward of the usual bullies trying to get my lollies etc was all part of the process to get home with everything Mum wanted and me to come out unscathed was all part of the growing up process back then and for some strange reason it was thrilling and fun and I loved it. This entitled you to have bragging rights the next day in the schoolyard telling your mates what a lucky escape you had and how you were a hero.

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