Shaun’s 2016 dance card

David McGahan dancingThanks to a number of announcements over the last few months, we now have a fairly good idea of where/what/how you can see Shaun right through until the end of 2016:

The Ex-PM
No doubt you’re already aware, but Shaun’s new sitcom is all wrapped up and ready to air on Wednesday October 14th on ABC. Expect to see (or more accurately, hear) Shaun on radio over the preceding week promoting it. The show will air over 6 weeks.

Shooting of the “Stairway to Heaven” specials
There will be three new Stairway to Heaven specials to air on SBS in 2016, so Shaun will spend time filming these over the following few months. He has already been spotted in Salt Lake City, so there’s a fair bet Mormonism will be one of the faith’s explored.

Mad As Hell – May 2016
The ABC have given the first part of next year to Charlie Pickering’s show, so Mad As Hell is likely to slot in after it (the reverse of what happened this year). Shaun has pretty much confirmed its return, so hopefully the sixth season will line up with an election announcement to add some additional gold…

MTC Production: The Odd Couple – November 2016
For the latter half of the year, Shaun will join Francis Greenslade on the Melbourne Theatre Company stage for “The Odd Couple”. Neil Simon’s classic comedy about divorced men living together has been adapted and performed in many guises, and might be, perversely, the world’s funniest play about marriage. Watch the video to see Shaun and Francis discuss working together:

Winning at Game Shows

Previously we spoke to Stephen Hall, one of the cast members of Mad As Hell, about many things, including the fact he was a quiz show champion!

He has taken all of the skills he learnt, plus hours of interviews with former game show champions, hosts, question writers and producers, and put it all into one eBook: “How To Win Game Shows“. It also includes behind-the-scenes’ tips from ‘Family Feud’, ‘The Price Is Right’ and ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a contestant, the inner workings of some of the most successful quiz shows makes for great reading. You can find out more at Stephen’s website.

Micallef Tonight… a guide

Micallef with axe on Micallef Tonight DVD coverIt’s never too late for an episode guide… said no one ever. But 12 years (to the day!) since Micallef Tonight was axed seems like a good time to finish the segment guide to both the originally aired TV episodes and the expurgated DVD episodes: for the DVD, Shaun cut the 13 episodes down to eight, leaving out the musical performances and generally re-cutting the order. (not sure why…)

You can read the original review of the DVD, or still buy it (I think?), or use our sortable segment guide (or the original episode guide). See, your night’s entertainment is sorted!

Watching the Moment

A few years ago, Shaun contributed a story called “The Moment” to a collection called “Humanity: A Short Story Collection” (and it’s still available on Amazon). It is the story is of an old man who night after night is torn from his slumber by a horrible and unshakable vision, all while watching the days of the week disappear – a departure from the style of Shaun’s well-known work, but not outside his wheelhouse.

It was made into a short film around about the same time by Triptych Pictures (who also made The 13th House), and was featured at a number of short film festivals. It sort of slid under the radar after that, but the kind people at Triptych have made it available online to watch for free! The website has more information on the making of the film.

A Kraken’ Book

While Mad As Hell is on hiatus, the team behind the show are busy working on other projects. You may have seen Emily Tahini on Open Slather on Foxtel (with writer Tony Moclair involved in a few episodes), and Francis is of course filming The Ex-PM with Shaun.

Zombie McCrombie book

Michael Ward, writer on the show and resident Kraken, has written a book: “Zombie McCrombie from an overturned Kombi”. It’s an illustrated story of Zombie and his zombie dog pals, who roam the empty streets, sniffing the wind for bones they might gnaw on. Firmly tongue in cheek, it’s sure to suit fans of Shaun’s style of humour. Read all about it and get a copy through the website.

Shaun in The 13th House

Shaun in The 13th HouseShaun’s been involved in a number of side projects through the years, some of which have had limited releases, making it difficult for fans to catch them.

One such project is The 13th House, a 2003 60 minute film which formed part of the official selection in the Adelaide Film Festival 2003, Sitges International Festival of Catalonia 2003, Brussels International Film Festival 2004 and the Sydney Film Festival 2003.

Mark Waterman (Damon Gameau) works a menial job writing travel brochures for a large, faceless corporation. He is just another cog in an impossibly large machine; dreaming of holidays he can never afford and women he can never have.

When an opportunity for promotion to the 13th Floor is presented to him by the enigmatic Chairman of the Board, played by Shaun, Mark quickly jumps at it. The lure of the most expensive cars, tailored suits and other perks of the ‘better life’ await those that attain membership to the Board.

However, Mark soon finds himself caught in the middle of a sinister game with rules so contradictory, so senseless, that he is forced to sacrifice everything he once held dear in order to win the ultimate prize…

Finally, the the film is finally available on DVD, and includes special features such as deleted scenes and outtakes with Shaun. Purchase it at the Triptych Pictures website.

Interview with Shaun on his 2015 projects

As Mad As Hell was wrapping up a few months ago, Shaun spoke to me about his projects through to next year, including The Ex-PM, Stairway to Heaven and the return of Mad As Hell. I’ve finally written it up, so enjoy!

I can’t think of anybody who’s so heavily involved in so many TV projects at one time (Mad As Hell, The Ex-PM and Stairway to Heaven) – you must be pretty busy at the moment!

I would have been busy anyway, because the plan was to do Mad As Hell at the beginning and the end of the year, and for one reason or another the Mad As Hell at the end of the year was vacated, and I think that was to do with funding generally. [Note: Mad As Hell comes from the Light Entertainment budget].

That meant that the back end of the year was free, so I said why don’t we have a look at doing the documentaries – we’re doing (the filming of) two at the end of the year and one at the beginning of next year. I’m still to have talks about what they are; (the production company) probably know, but they haven’t told me yet.

So it’s more the process of they’ll come to you with a suggestion of “we think you should go here” and you’ll go?

We have talked about where we might go, so it won’t surprise me, it will just be a case of which three they pick.

Shaun in Stairway to HeavenWas that how the first one came about, was it their (Artemis’) suggestion to go to India and look at Buddhism?

It was one of the ones we talked about, and oddly enough, I think it was the easiest to get to and the most exotic. Maybe the other ones won’t be so far away. The US might be a good place to go.

You haven’t been to the States have you?

No. It was interesting having never been to India to go to Haridwar, a country town, instead of the big cities, and ditto in the US: I would be going somewhere that would be quite unusual to go to for a first visit.

Is there anything you are hoping to learn in the upcoming three episodes of Stairway to Heaven? Will it be a continuation of the journey in the original special?

Hopefully it’s a refinement, I don’t really know. I certainly didn’t answer every question, and I didn’t ask every question. So, if it is about Mormonism for example, it’s interesting because I’m connected to the basic bedrock of the Christian traditions, so it’s easier for me to follow. But “why is this relatively new strand been so embraced?” It’s not a venerable as Hinduism. It’s a different question. It still links to someone’s absolute certainty about this particular version of faith that people have. The question is the same, it’s probably more about perspective.

So you’ll be treating it as a continuing enlightenment experience, trying to learn from people?

Because it would be in the same family of faith that I grew up in (Catholic), it might be easier for me know what I’m talking about when I ask the questions. So it may be less reverent than it would be in a more foreign environment.

Shaun Micalled as "The Ex-PM"I’m very much looking forward to The Ex-PM, since you teased it so long ago. How is preparation going for it?

Downstairs from the Mad As Hell office is the ABC drama department, so we’re casting for it now. So occasionally on a Wednesday, after doing the edit for Mad As Hell, I’ll go back to the office and look at some of the scripts that are coming in, then pop downstairs and do a couple of auditions, then come back upstairs and sign off on the sound edit and the audio post and the shows finished. So I’ve been doing two things on the Wednesdays. Once we finish (Mad As Hell), I’ll re-write the scripts and we start shooting in late May maybe.

Will it be mostly a set piece, or a bit of outdoors and in-studio?

There won’t be any studio component; it will all be in the real world. We’ll find a house to shoot in.

I guess he (Andrew Dugdale) will be running a home office?

It will be a bit of an upstairs/downstairs sort of arrangement.

And it will air later in the year?

Probably about September; 6 episodes.

Will Francis be in it?

Yes, absolutely. We’ll try and get everyone guesting in it, but Francis will have a role written for him in it, as always.

What are the chances of more Mad As Hell in the future?

It will be next year. It’s a good show, we’re match fit, we know what we’re doing, we just need to wait a year. We’ve done that before, waited a year between the first and the second series. We don’t want to wear out our welcome.

So you’re enjoying it enough that you’d love to come back and do some more?

Yeah! [said emphatically]

Do you like to seek out these projects, or do these opportunities come along for you to pounce on?

These days I don’t have to do much chasing. Mr and Mrs Murder was easy to get up, harder to do. I’ve been really lucky. There have been projects which haven’t gotten up, you just draw a conclusion that it wasn’t the right time or it wasn’t a strong project. If the will isn’t there, no amount of pushing is going to get them to do it.

Milo Kerrigan on TAYGIs it endearing that people still request Milo?

It’s alright, I don’t mind. There are worse things to be remembered for.  No one is asking me to do Milo professionally on a TV show – if that was the only job I was being offered I’d be a bit bitter I suppose.  It will come to that maybe, turning up in someone’s short film and that’s all they’ll want me to do.

I think we the fans feel part of an in-joke when you reference your previous work, as you do a bit in Mad As Hell. You like to layer the jokes, so everyone can feel like there is a joke for them.

Like throwing in the clips from The Micallef P(r)ogram(me), it doesn’t hurt if you don’t know the reference. Maybe it’s a bit more of an interesting experience if you go: “I remember that when I was 15.” Everything I’ve done had references in it. It’s about the level of commitment to it; if it’s just a reference and it doesn’t matter here nor there, that’s the way to do it. We did a New Years Eve show which was just layered with references to the past, and that was probably a bit too much. You can’t visit the past too much or it looks indulgent.

Thanks to Shaun and all the Mad As Hell crew (Anthony specially) for their time and assistance.