The Ex Ex-PM

The Ex-PM DVD

Like a high speed train passing a transport enthusiast who wasn’t ready, The Ex-PM has gone by too quickly – and all 6 episodes are done! Sadly, Dugdale didn’t even get his book written.

All the episodes are on iView until December 2nd, and you can now get the DVD at all the usual places (like the ABC Shop). There’s a few extras and bloopers from the series.

If you’re hoping for a second series, never say never, but you will at least need to wait till 2017, as Shaun has his dance card full for the next 12 months.

The Ex-PM airs this Wednesday

The Ex-PM logoAfter over a year of anticipation, finally Shaun’s first sitcom in 12 years is here – The Ex-PM! And at the special time of 9:05pm too. This Wednesday, ABC. (Or on iView afterwards)

Each of the six episodes will be a different aspect/chapter to Dugdale’s life as a former Prime Minister, all wrapped around the need for him to finish his autobiography, or at least have it written for him.

Expect a lot of quick-paced-wit and an great supporting cast.

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.

Just one Mad as Hell series in 2015

As previously hinted here, and reported by TV Tonight recently, Mad as Hell is only returning for the one series next year. Although budget cuts have been touted as a reason, the most likely explanation is that Shaun will be working on his other big project for the ABC: “The Ex-PM”. So it’s not all bad news!

This is not unprecedented though: in 2013, Shaun took most of the second half of the year off after two seasons of Mad As and one of Mr & Mrs Murder, giving himself time to finish his book “The President’s Desk”.

On the topic of The Ex-PM, TV Tonight spoke to Rick Kalowski, Head of Comedy at the ABC, about the show:

“It’s a great concept and the quality of the idea has really come along in the development process. The scripts are so funny. I think you’ll see a more humanistic side to Shaun’s comedy. It’s not just about a person struggling with relevance deprivation syndrome –which in and of itself is funny at a very high stakes level,” he explains.

“But there’s something about what happens to men when they get to the end of their careers, running around like whirling dervishes, convincing themselves they are doing it for their families or countries. They get to the end of their careers and they are faced with the question: Was it all worth it? Or to put it even more painfully: Have I Led a Worthwhile Life? I think the show has the potential to open up the way people see Shaun as a comedian.”

New sitcom in 2015: The Ex-PM

Shaun Micalled as "The Ex-PM"The name and details of Shaun’s new sitcom have been revealed: he will star and write “The Ex-PM” on ABC in 2015.

Andrew Dugdale, Australia’s third longest-serving Prime Minister, was a man who dined with presidents and kings, co-hosted world summits and changed the lives of millions of his fellow Australians. But since losing his grip on power, he now has far too much time on his hands and no one to waste it on. Described as a tale of redemption somewhere between House of Cards and One Foot in the Grave.

The show is a CJZ production in association with ABC TV, and will consist of 6 episodes.

We can’t wait!

It’s also been confirmed that Mad As Hell will return for an unprecedented (for Shaun) fifth season! Congratulations to everyone for a very successful show.