Australian Tumbleweeds

Australia's most opinionated blog about comedy.

Vale Mad as Hell 2022

Well, we knew it had to end sometime.

For a bunch of years and slightly more seasons, Mad as Hell has been an island of quality in a sea of mediocrity, the rare Australian comedy that was both Australian and a comedy. Times changed; it changed with it, going from a thinly veiled Newstopia rip-off to that show that was on when The Weekly wasn’t. We’re going to miss it, especially early next year when it’s not back and the ABC is showing some quasi game-show where smug comedians make up rumors designed to discredit government policies because they might possibly benefit the poor. Fun times ahead for sure.

Looking back over the final season of Mad as Hell, the change in government sharpened a lot of the comedy, while (presumably) the ever-shrinking budgets meant the pre-recorded sketches became special treats rather than a regular part of the diet. Mad as Hell was never a show to throw away a decent running joke before its time, but this season most of the classic characters were quietly put away well before the finale. We never got to say goodbye to Lois Price; a nation weeps.

The ratings were up slightly on last season, which is bad news for those commentators who said ABC audiences wouldn’t want to see their new leftie government being mocked. Possibly the news that this would be the final season kept viewers on board; whatever the excuse, they got to see Mad as Hell go out on a high.

The political sketches had bite; the show as a whole seemed more focused than in previous years. The audience knew their place, and Micallef played to them without drawing things out. Any long running show is going to orbit around a sweet spot rather than hit it week after week, but this final season of Mad as Hell got things right pretty much every episode.

The cast were great, but you could say that (and we usually did) about every season. It’d be unfair to single anyone out, especially as there was no Scott Morrison bobblehead or Malcolm Turnbull portrait around to force everyone else to lift their game. At least now Stephen Hall is finally “that guy from Mad as Hell” not “that guy from Romper Stomper“.

It’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of Micallef – he’ll be promoting his latest book for a while yet, and there’s already talk of working on more dramatic projects – but you never know. By the early 00s he seemed like a rock solid fixture in the Australian comedy firmament; a few years later he was doing breakfast radio in Melbourne. Nobody wants to see that again.

Unlike Mad as Hell, which was taken from us too soon. At least the ABC has been nurturing a new generation of comedy talent, as shown in the final ever scene where Micallef was finally unmasked as simultaneously being both Mark Humphries and Sammy J.

So yeah, we’re completely fucked.

Ending the Year on a High Note

Press release time!

Award winning comedy series Fisk returns to the ABC in October

The ABC is thrilled to announce the highly anticipated second season of Fisk will air next month.  The multi award-winning six-part comedy series premieres on Wednesday 26 October at 9pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

In 2021, Fisk was Australia’s number one locally scripted show across all free-to-air* networks – created, written and directed by – and starring – one of Australia’s favourite comedians, Kitty Flanagan as Helen Tudor-Fisk.

The entire key cast reprise their roles including Flanagan, Julia Zemiro, Marty Sheargold, Aaron Chen, John Gaden and Glenn Butcher.  They are joined this season by a galaxy of comedic stars including; Marg Downey, Denise Scott, Harley Breen, Stephen Curry, Geraldine Hickey, Zindzi Okenyo, Urvi Majumdar, Stephen Gates (Tripod), Anthony Sharpe, Shane Bourne, Glenn Robbins, Bessie Holland, Rob Sitch, Deborah Kennedy, Matt Okine, Alex Papps, Broden Kelly (Aunty Donna), Colin Lane, Anne Edmonds and Tanika Anderson.

Season two finds it’s business as usual at the Gruber & Associates office. Helen’s (Flanagan) social skills haven’t improved but at least she’s nailing it as a suburban wills and estates lawyer. So much so that Roz (Julia Zemiro) and Ray (Marty Sheargold) mistakenly entrust her with the presentation of their regular Q&A probate information night at the local library.

Meanwhile, Ray is shredding for a school reunion and George (Aaron Chen) finds himself overworked when Roz embarks on a new business venture. On the client front Helen will take on a clown theatre company, a May/December couple with a new baby and a mother who sends her two squabbling sons a message from the grave. But the probate stakes are really raised when a formidable woman comes forward to claim a vaguely worded $10 million bequest from the local crazy cat lady.

*OzTAM metro panel, CY 2021, Channel 9/9/10/ABC TV, Comedy/Documentary/Drama programs

Finally some good news out of the ABC! That’s a very impressive line-up of guest stars too – presumably when you’re making a series that requires a steady stream of wacky clients you have to cast the net pretty wide. Alex Papps! We haven’t heard that name since the last series of Fisk.

We’re so happy about this we’re even going to let slide the claim that “In 2021, Fisk was Australia’s number one locally scripted show across all free-to-air* networks” – what does “number one” even mean in this context? Number one half-hour locally scripted comedy airing on Wednesday nights? Fisk is number one in our hearts and that’s what counts.

Unless the new series totally stuffs it up, of course.

And Now, the End is Near

Every day is a day closer to the last day when we have a new episode of Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell to look forward to. Sure, we could rejoice in the knowledge that at least we had our time together and that nothing in this world lasts forever. Counterpoint: The Weekly with Charlie Pickering is coming back in 2023 and this world is fucking bullshit*.

Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell Pagan Holiday Special

The second last episode of Mad as Hell made a running joke out of the final appearances of a few long running characters. No Kraken for the final ever episode? They must have something really special lined up for that one**.

It seems a touch unlikely that the final episode will be nothing more than a half hour “In Memorandum” crawl… but what if it was? We’re all going to miss junior sub-editor of the Daily Telegraph Chris Lorax, alongside Casper Jonquil, Tosh Greenslade in a wig and glasses, and that policeman riding his bike into a tree. But what about the forgotten heroes?

Will we see Maggie Bathysphere and the panel of ABC sports commentators back one last time? What about Mad as Hell‘s largely and possibly wisely forgotten Financy Boy? Will William Duthie – Elder with Wisdom gift us with one final insight? What about Edith Swink’s daughter? Tony Martin’s John Howard impression? Shaun’s beard?

Sure, we’ll probably be able to go on without these characters in our lives; Newstopia‘s Inspektor Herring is now but a distant memory, and he got his own half hour special. And really, it wasn’t so much the individual characters that made Mad as Hell what it was so much as it was the constant ongoing parade of them.

Yes, there were plenty of thinly disguised political parodies, and a bunch of solid comedy cliches who were always useful when it came time to comment on the standard issues of the day. But there were also a lot of uniquely strange characters that popped up – sometimes just the once – that helped make Mad as Hell a show that went well beyond just commenting on the headlines.

It’s easy to come up with a funny name and slap a wig on. Being funny beyond that takes a skill that, going by what we’ve seen lately, is increasingly rare. Forget the “sparkling line-up of characters” that we’re expected to believe have somehow become our family; it’s the animating intelligence behind the show – the combination of writers and performers – that we’re going to miss.

Though yeah, guess we missed the episode with these guys.

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*Don’t even get us started on the low-key yet strangely persistent rumors that ABC management may have not exactly been a passive player when it came to bringing Mad as Hell to a conclusion

**In shock news, it seems there’ll be a silly final song, which has been a highlight of the conclusion to just about other Micallef project to date

Lost in Limbo

Press release time!

Cameras roll in Queensland on new ABC comedy series Limbo.

two men on a couch holding beers looking at each other.

The ABC is delighted to announce celebrated Australian actors Ryan Corr and Bob Morley will star in the bold new six-part comedy series Limbo, which has commenced filming in Queensland.

Ryan Corr (Holding The Man, Wakefield, High Ground) returns to Australia after his role as Ser Harwin ‘Breakbones’ Strong in Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, and Bob Morley (Love Me, Blinder, Neighbours) returns from LA, where he appeared in seven seasons of the sci-fi hit The 100.

Produced by Bunya Productions (Mystery Road, Sweet Country) and Heiress Films (Man Up, Making Couples Happy), Limbo is created by Lucas Taylor (Harrow, Vikings: Athelstan’s Journal), written by Lucas Taylor and Tamara Asmar (On The Ropes, Love Child) and directed by the acclaimed Trent O’Donnell (No Activity, Hacks, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and David Stubbs (Daffodils, Black Hands). 

Also starring is an impressive ensemble cast headed by Emma Harvie (Frayed, The Letdown) and including Shabana Azeez (Metro Sexual S2, The Hunting), Russell Dykstra (Irreverent, Fires, Rake), Lena Cruz (Here Out West, The Unusual Suspects, Dirt Game), Aaron Fa’aoso (Black Comedy, East West 101), Jane Harber (Offspring, The Moodys), Philippa Northeast (Standing Up for Sunny, The Newsreader S2), Josh McConville (Elvis, Fantasy Island), Kamillia Rihani (The Twelve), Georgina Naidu (Seachange, Rosehaven).

Loss and laughs collide in Limbo, which explores the compelling and charmingly funny story of best friends Charlie (Ryan Corr) and Nate (Bob Morley) as they’re faced with how hard it is to let go of those we love – especially when they’re taken too soon. And when they come back to haunt you. Literally.

Todd Abbott, Head of Comedy for the ABC, said, “The fact that so many of this brilliant cast, who are kicking goals internationally, are coming home to make this series speaks volumes about what a special show it is going to be. It’ll warm your heart, break your heart, thump you in the guts and, most importantly, make you laugh the way only a ghost buddy comedy set in Brisbane can.”

Limbo will air on ABC TV and ABC iview in 2023.

For those keeping track of the way “comedy” now means “pretty much everything that isn’t a murder mystery” on your ABC, what starts out as a “bold new six-part comedy series” in paragraph one becomes a series where “loss and laughs collide” by paragraph five.

We were pleasantly surprised by the recent A Beginners Guide to Grief, which tackled the same intersection of loss and comedy with a rarely-seen focus on making the comedy side of things funny. Being around an hour all up didn’t hurt either: losing someone sucks, people act weird in times of loss, organising a funeral can take some funny turns… yeah, think we’ve covered pretty much everything.

Because let’s be honest: if you want to make a comedy, there are a shitload of things funnier than sitting around grieving over a recent death. If you’re making a series about grief, 99% of the time it’s because you want to make a series about grief and the comedy is just there to try and keep everyone else watching.

That said, there’s a long and proud tradition of wacky ghost sitcoms (including that Ghosts show currently on Ten that we’ve never watched). And it’s not like local talent has ever been afraid of hanging around the graveyard to try and juice up a limp comedy premise.

Will the producers start name-dropping classic Aussie dramedy Spirited in interviews? Or is this closer to Josh Thomas’ recent pointless stinker Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (which also started with a surprise death)? Finally, a reason to stay alive until 2023.

Grief does funny things to people

By pure coincidence, SBS’s new dramedy A Beginner’s Guide to Grief dropped just days before many parts of the world found themselves plunged into periods of mourning. So, is this bereavement-themed comedy a good distraction from the endless royal death content which is now dominating the broadcast media? Well, it’s funnier and way less boring than Summer Love, that’s for sure.

A Beginner’s Guide to Grief follows Harriet (Anna Lindner) as she tries to cope with the deaths of her parents, Reggie (Glynn Nicholas) and Diane (Caitlin McDougall). Helpfully, or perhaps not, Diane has left Harriet a self-help guide on cassette (voiced by Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein) which offers off-beat advice for the bereaved.

A woman dressed in black with a walkman attached to her belt and headphones around her neck

Of less help are the residents of Harriet’s hometown, Schutzenfuchs, a fictional village inspired by German-settled parts of South Australia such as Hahndorf and the Barossa Valley. The townsfolk include Harriet’s Uncle Trevor, a Lutheran Revivalist minister whose faith will not allow him to respect Reggie and Diane’s deathbed wish to be cremated, her cousin Isaiah (Carlo Ritchie), a possible sex pest and the local undertaker, and her sanctimonious aunt Barb (Georgina Naidu), who apologises to god if anyone swears.

The real star of the show, and Harriet’s lifeline, is Daisy (Cassandra Sorrell), her pyromaniac foster sister, who has recently been released from prison. Daisy helps Harriet to give Reggie and Diane an appropriate send-off and to get her life back on track.

Based on Lindner’s real-life experience, this is not a sentimental or sanitised depiction of grief. We see a realistic portrayal of mourning, including moments which are funny, joyous, bizarre, and ridiculous. These moments in A Beginner’s Guide to Grief are every bit as well done as the dramatic scenes, a rarity in Australian dramedy, where many shows have the feel of soap operas where some gags have been shoe horned in.

In a lesser dramedy, the self-help cassette, with its strange and unhinged advice, and the pisstakes of the rural townsfolk and the Australian-German community would be more prominent – and more grating. Here, they’re used sparingly and at the right moments.

The real focus of this show is Harriet’s relationships with her family and friends, and, yes, A Beginner’s Guide to Grief is mostly a drama, but it’s compelling to watch, funny when it needs to be and feels cohesive overall.

Putting the Christ back into Christ What Else is On

Press release time!

MATT OKINE AND MIRANDA TAPSELL GET THAT FESTIVE FEELING IN THE STAN ORIGINAL FILM CHRISTMAS RANSOM

A riotous Christmas romp for the whole family, Christmas Ransom is a Stan Original Film from the creators of A Sunburnt Christmas, starring an ensemble of beloved Aussie stars.

8 September 2022 – Stan, Australia’s unrivalled home of original productions, today announced filming has commenced in Homebush, NSW on the brand new Stan Original Film Christmas Ransom, starring acclaimed comedian Matt Okine (Stan Original Series The Other Guy), TV Week Logie Award-winner Miranda Tapsell (Top End Wedding, The Sapphires, Love Child) and Ed Oxenbould (Stan Original Series Bloom, Puberty Blues, Paper Planes), with the film set to premiere this festive season, only on Stan.

Written by Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella and Timothy Walker (A Sunburnt Christmas) and produced by Every Cloud Productions (a Global City Group company), the creators of the award-winning Stan Original Film A Sunburnt Christmas and the Stan Original Series Eden, Christmas Ransom is a riotous comedy-adventure inspired by family favourites such as Home Alone, Die Hard and Elf, packed with heart and hijinks.

When beloved toy store, Harrington and Sons, is hijacked on Christmas Eve by a pair of bumbling criminals and the struggling owner (Okine) held for ransom, a pair of shoplifting kids stumble into the heist, where they are forced to team up with a heavily pregnant security officer (Tapsell) to save Christmas for everyone!

Christmas Ransom will also star Genevieve Lemon (Stan Original Series The Tourist, Prisoner, The Power of the Dog), Bridie McKim (Stan Original Series Bump, Dive Club) and young stars Evan Stanhope (Thor: Love & Thunder), Tahlia Sturzaker (I Am Mother, Ascendant) and Chai Hansen (The Newsreader) round out the cast.

Stan Chief Content Officer Cailah Scobie said: “Our Stan Original Christmas films have quickly become a beloved staple of our annual lineup, following the success of A Sunburnt Christmas and Christmas on the Farm. We are elated to again be working with the talented team at Every Cloud Productions, the brilliant writing team of Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella and Timothy Walker and such a fantastic cast to bring a fun and heartfelt tale to our screens this holiday season.”

Drew Grove, CEO and Executive Producer at Every Cloud Productions, said: “Christmas Ransom will bring the same irreverent humour and warmth everyone loved in A Sunburnt Christmas, with the added fun of some wild, high-stakes action hijinks. With a lot of mischief and heart, it will give everyone the chance to laugh, cry and cheer together for a film that is sure to become one of Australia’s classic Christmas tales.”

The Stan Original Film Christmas Ransom is created and executive produced by Drew Grove, Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox, and Mike Jones (all: A Sunburnt Christmas), directed by Adele Vuko (Skitbox, Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, writer: Love Me), and produced by Naomi Just (The Unusual Suspects, Born to Spy, Ronny Chieng: International Student).

Christmas Ransom is financed by Stan in conjunction with Screen NSW under the Made in NSW Fund, Fulcrum Media Finance and Every Cloud Productions.

You may or may not remember A Sunburnt Christmas – we’re going to go with “not” – which was an odd mix of holiday cheer and a five year-old running around with a loaded shotgun.

Plus there was a lot of stuff about the death of a loved one, which tended to bring down the mood in a movie supposedly featuring plenty of “irreverent humour and warmth”. But it did feature an armed robber dressed as Santa, so it wasn’t all bad news.

Anyway, this looks like more of the same slightly-misjudged slapstick for the third year* in a row. Fingers crossed this is the year we get a Christmas miracle and the end result is actually funny.

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*okay, last year’s Christmas on the Farm was more of a rom-com – the slapstick was provided by viewers rushing to turn it off

Wars and Rumours of Wars

What to think about this?

EXCLUSIVE:

TV Tonight hears whispers that Seven has a new sketch comedy in the pipeline for 2023.

Helium, recently founded by Mark Fennessy, is understood to be producing the new series, which has been running a Writers’ Room in recent weeks. It has recently produced 6 Festivals and Last King of the Cross for Paramount+ with drama series Paper Dolls announced for 10.

Seven had a hugely successful run with Fast Forward from 1989 – 1992 followed by Full Frontal from 1993 – 1997.  More recently series have included Housos: The Thong Warrior, Australia’s Sexiest Tradie, Orange is the New Brown and Kinne.

Seven is also due to announce details of its upcoming Kath & Kim revival, believed to be a 20th anniversary special.

The big problem with this is that it assumes there’s an audience for generic sketch comedy. And there may well be – it just hasn’t been turning up for any of the many generic sketch comedy shows we’ve had this century.

Yep, that’s us

As a fun exercise, what was the last sketch show that was a hit simply because it was a sketch show? We’re not talking something like Mad as Hell or The Weekly, which may contain “sketches” (definitely in Mad as Hell‘s case, kind of in The Weekly‘s) but is based on news and current affairs and features an already well-known host. We mean shows like The Big Bite, Wednesday Night Fever, Double Take, The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting, and so on. You know, all the big hits.

(time passes)

(the ghost of Kinne can be heard in the distance)

The handful of sketch shows that have worked in this country since the glory days of Fast Forward and The Comedy Company have pretty much all been put together by a team with a solid history of working well together. Not a “writer’s room”.

You know what you get from a “writer’s room”? Open Slather. That’s not a good thing.

“But what about Saturday Night Live,” we hear some random chump yell out. “They have a writers room and they’ve been going for a billion years”. First: have you watched Saturday Night Live lately? It’s barely a comedy on a good day. Second, they have (by local standards) a massive writers room full of the top sketch writers in a country ten times the size of Australia, and most of their sketches still suck.

Sketch comedy works when it’s a bunch of talented mates working together. It doesn’t need to be a lot of mates: Mr Show is a classic, and that was based around two people. But you need the energy and sense of fun that comes from people who know (and usually like) each other working together to create something funny. If you don’t have that, all you have is the last thirty years of Australian sketch comedy.

But who are we kidding? Being funny isn’t going to be the aim here: it’s all about tapping into nostalgia. It may not feature a bunch of “familiar faces”, but it’ll be pitched as a return to the good old days anyway simply because in 2022 “sketch comedy” is the same as “variety” – a format people keep saying they want back but have no real desire to actually watch.

What people want is funny television. Restaurant sketches need not apply.

Oh We’ve Got a Question All Right

Press release time!

SO AMAZING!: ABC SHOW’S SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT

An ABC Show has an announcement, that announcement is a shock and someone thinks it’s amazing news. How enticing! No wonder you clicked. But now you’re a paragraph in and still haven’t received any detail. That’s just how news works now. How annoying, hey?

If you don’t click away and carry on reading, you’ll discover the show is Question Everything, remember that show starring Wil Anderson, Jan Fran, and a panel of Australia’s best and brightest comedians? Well, they have a shocking announcement. Unfortunately, news websites need you to scroll down the page to pass more ads so they won’t reveal the announcement for another paragraph.

By now, you’ve probably been distracted by one of those auto playing videos that isn’t even about this story. So annoying! Can we just get to the shocking new announcement? It’s not that Question Everything stars a panel of Australia’s funniest comedians battling misinformation in the news media. We already knew that, after all. The shock announcement is that Question Everything is returning for a massive 10-episode second season on ABC TV and ABC iview on Wednesday 28 September, 8.30pm.

Now, you might think you have all the vital information you need, yet the article is carrying on. There’s probably a slideshow of photos stolen from Instagram but all you’re really interested in is finding out who said that “So Amazing” quote from the headline. Host Wil Anderson said of the return: “Finally, some news you can trust. It’s true, Question Everything is coming back with a panel of your favourite comedians and the best new up-and-comers. Together, we’ll see who has the facts straight and who has their news limited.”

While Co-Host Jan-Fran added: “When I first heard Question Everything was coming back I checked the source of the information, then double-checked it, and verified it with an independent third party. Only then did I believe it. I cannot wait for another season. It is always a thrill to tell Wil he’s wrong and on this show I get to do that a lot.”

But neither of them used the exact phrase ‘So Amazing’. Turns out, it was from some tweet that wasn’t even really related to this story. Gosh, what has happened to the news?

Question Everything will air Wednesday 28th September at 8.30pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

And now we feel the need to apologise for running that in full. Or as the press release put it:

How annoying, hey?

Ten more episodes of this half-baked attempt to create the long-dreaded Gruen News? Is it a quiz show? A panel show? A show where the host apologised for the poor quality of his panelists?

Wow, if you stick a question mark on the end of obvious observations they really don’t become any more entertaining, do they?

Like No Other Love

The important thing to say about Summer Love is that it’s very good for what it is. It’s just that what it is, going by the first episode at least, isn’t all that funny. Which is intentional! And also a bit disappointing.

Summer Love is an anthology series based around a beach holiday rental. Each week a new couple or group of people turn up to work through some kind of issue that might sound like it has comedy potential but again, isn’t all that funny in practice.

The first week sees two couples turn up for their yearly break together, only right from the start there’s conflict a-brewing. One couple now has a two year-old, who is boring and annoying to everyone but her parents. The other couple rapidly has a bunch of grievances (“why didn’t we get the good bedroom?”), which stretch the group’s already tenuous bond. It turns out the new mother is also a new-ish member of what is an otherwise long-term friendship, while the blokes increasingly inhabit different (and in one case, not-so-blokey) worlds.

To stress, none of this is completely unfunny (there’s even a good riff about the crappiness of “classic rock” radio), but it’s more about sharp observations and slowly widening fault lines than firing out the jokes. Which is fine – it’s a one-off half hour story, surely it’s building to a big comedy pay off, right?

Nope. There is a big payoff, but it’s pretty much all dramatic. Turns out this has been something closer to a nicely crafted half hour play than anything else. It’s a quality Australian drama that’s fine for what it is but – and again, and we can’t stress this enough because it’s airing in a traditional ABC comedy timeslot – it’s not all that funny.

We’ve gone on a lot here over the years about how “comedy” now basically means “everything that’s not serious drama”. This is an example of that. Maybe future episodes will be funnier; there’s one co-written by Nath Valvo that looks promising. Wayne Hope & Robyn Butler (AKA Gristmill, who have produced this series) also have an episode that looks like they’ll be in fine form.

But going by the summaries, most of the episodes seem to involve couples dealing with personal issues in a way that suggests this series has started how it means to go on. A quick check on IMDB reveals that a lot of the episodes were also written by cast members (including the first one). It feels like it; the characters are well crafted and believable, their interactions are interesting, the dialogue is plausible, and if you don’t care about them there’s nothing else here to keep you watching.

(ok, the beach house is nice)

Still, if this was The Australian DramaWeeds we’d be giving this a big thumbs up. It’s a solid half hour of television and if Australia has to make dramas about middle class people’s personal problems then keeping it to half an hour is definitely the way to go. But for comedy fans, it’s not exactly a big win.

The ABC is firmly committed to a steady stream of half hour scripted programs that are presented as comedies – because audiences actually like watching comedies – but where “being funny” barely gets a look in. For every Fisk there’s five seasons of Rosehaven, two seasons of Aftertaste and now this.

And just because this is a better drama than both of those doesn’t make it a comedy.

Sitcoms Are Back Baby!

Press release time!

Aunty Donna serves up their first narrative comedy series for ABC

The ABC and Screen Australia are thrilled to announce that Australia’s rock stars of comedy, Aunty Donna, are making their first foray into narrative comedy with the brand-new half hour series Aunty Donna’s Untitled Project.

Filming from next week in Melbourne and starring Aunty Donna’s Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane, the high octane and unpredictable series follows the story of three best mates running a trendy cafe down one of Melbourne’s less-than-iconic laneways.

Aunty Donna says: “We make show, you will love.”

Todd Abbott, ABC Head of Comedy, says: “ABC audiences first got a taste of Aunty Donna in 2014 in Fresh Blood, so we couldn’t be more excited to have them back where they belong and to be the home of their first narrative comedy series. Strap yourselves in… this is going to be a wild ride.”

Screen Australia’s Head of Online Lee Naimo said, “We’ve been proud to support Aunty Donna throughout their career as they’ve gone from strength to strength creating original content and building a cult audience online, from their Fresh Blood series to 1999 through Skip Ahead and Glennridge Secondary College on YouTube. So naturally we’re delighted to support their first foray into a sitcom format bringing along their trademark absurdity. We’re confident this series will be a hit with devoted fans and newcomer audiences alike.”

VicScreen’s CEO, Caroline Pitcher, says: “We’re delighted to support the debut sitcom from the iconic comedy trio, Aunty Donna. Bringing together two Melbourne greats – laneway cafes and the absurd comedy of Aunty Donna – audiences are set to be thoroughly entertained when it hits our screens next year.”

Aunty Donna’s Untitled Project will air on ABC TV and ABC iview in 2023.

Guess all that cash freed up by the end of Mad as Hell has- wait, we’re just getting an update… seems Mad as Hell was technically “live entertainment” while this is “scripted comedy” so budget-wise they’re not really connected. Which makes sense when you think about how long it must have taken to set this new show up.

Also, it’s about bloody time. This is such good news we’re even going to skip the part where the Screen Australia chief tactfully avoids mentioning their most recent series for Netflix. “Debut sitcom?” Really?

It’s been an insult to Australian audiences that Aunty Donna hasn’t been an ABC mainstay for years, and it’s cause for celebration that this insult has finally been rectified.

Hopefully they don’t end up calling it Three Men and a Babyccino.