Nostalgia’s a Hell of a Drug

Press release time!

Tick F***ing Tock… the Doug Anthony Allstars are back on the ABC

The two-part factual series Tick F***ing Tock screens from Tuesday 2 October at 9.30pm on ABC & ABC iview.

The Doug Anthony Allstars were comedy superstars, until Tim Ferguson unexpectedly pulled the plug, breaking the hearts of Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler. Years later they discovered Tim had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and put aside their differences to reunite and live the glory days 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…

What’s that you say? A story about an inspirational struggle with illness on the ABC? Guess it must be a Monday.

Shows what we know: it’s on a Tuesday, and this actually could be good. Everyone involved is alive and willing to talk, there’s plenty of clips to be shown (DAAS are one of the very few early 90s-era ABC comedy acts to have had a full DVD release) and the nature of their comeback makes it likely that they’ll have some decent material based around the struggles this documentary is obviously going to be focusing on. So fingers crossed it won’t be too maudlin.*

And let’s not forget, “This is also an enduring love story between Tim and Paul”, so presumably they’ll be heaping shit on former sidekick turned ABC bigwig Fidler. Here’s hoping for some Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush clips thrown in.


* It really shouldn’t be, as the recent tour the trio did was a solid night’s entertainment, packed with self-deprecating material about Tim’s illness, which their fans lapped-up.

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