Your Generation is back!

It’s been six years, but next Monday, Shaun returns as host to one of the most popular TV shows he’s ever been a part of: Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. But this time, it’s on a new television station with three new team captains. Watch the promo.

Shaun spoke to us about the return (Monday 21st 7:30pm, Channel Nine)

TAYG coming back is a bit of a surprise. Were you surprised that you got back involved?

It’s always been asked after, for us to come back. But as the years passed, we thought “oh, it’s gone now.”

The original idea was to just to do a reunion show. But for some reason, there was no opportunity to do that. Nine asked “would you be interested in doing [a new version] over here.”

I wasn’t really interested in doing it without the original cast; that was the point, that the reunion would be fun. Then I helped out with the casting, because they were going to do it anyway, and they did the captains and were looking for a host, so I said I’d come in, and it was quite fun, in a different way.

It’s quite different, as you’d expect. When it was Amanda, Charlie and Josh, they were new, and I was new, and we were getting to know each other, and getting used to it, and that created a really interesting dynamic. This new incarnation, I know the people a bit more, and in a different way. It’s kind of the same ingredients, but it’s being used to make a pudding instead of a risotto – it’s quite strange.

Do you think it’s something you might continue to revisit?

We’ll see how it goes, it’s not really my decision – it was fun to do though, it was great.

But if it works out well, and is continued in some form, would you be interested?

I wouldn’t say no, I don’t say no to anything.

Mad As Hell returns January 31st

For the first time since 2015, Mad As Hell is returning at the start of the ratings year – January 31st – for its EIGHTH season! This will be the first at the new studios in Southbank, Melbourne, where the ABC has consolidated all its television and radio production in Victoria. But the whole team has moved across, so expect arguably the best satirical show on Australian TV to continue where it left off.

ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30pm from January 31st

The Ex-Ex-PM and the Ex-Studios

On Thursday night, we’ll be treated to a sort-of-Micallef double-header, with the finale of Series 2 of The Ex-PM on ABC at 8:30pm, where Dugdale goes head-to-head in a debate with his political rival.

Following it will be a special on the ABC Ripponlea studios, which closed this year, after being home to many classic TV shows for 50+ years. The last show to be filmed there, which will feature throughout the special, was Mad As Hell. Expect to see some behind the scenes footage and an interview with Shaun.

Behind the scenes of The Ex-PM Series 2

During the filming of series 2 of The Ex-PM earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting the set and meeting some of the cast.

The administration building where Dugdale’s campaign headquarters was set

The main filming location was not actually in the Darling Downs, Queensland, but at the former rail workshops in Newport, Victoria. In fact, Dugdale’s campaign head quarters, and all the rooms they use as their offices, were in a former administration building on site, complete in its dilapidated glory.

Some of the nearby maintenance sheds were used to build and shoot specific sets, such as the prison sets in the Justice episode.

Outside sat Dugdale’s campaign bus, which unfortunately, actually broke down during filming and had to be towed away!

The crew were really accommodating and friendly, and I watched as they filmed a scene from “Image”, where the whole cast gathered in Dugdale’s office to talk about his upcoming media appearances while Rita trimmed his nose hairs. It was a complicated shot, and involved six camera angles, which was three different setups using the two cameras in the small room – it was a real room, not just a set!

I was also grateful for the opportunity to talk to Shaun, Francis and the one and only John Clarke, who was very giving of his time to talk about social media presence and the future of the ABC. He was ever bit as personable as everyone remembered.

If you’re enjoying Series 2, enjoy some of the behind the scenes photos.


 

Inside the set
Dugdale’s office
The main office area
The crew watching the filming
Dugdale’s bus
The prison set

 

The Ex-PM Series 2 arrives Thursday

We’re nearly ready for Series 2 of The Ex-PM – it starts this Thursday 8:30pm on the ABC.

Andrew Dugdale (Shaun), once the longest serving Prime Minister, is returning to politics, and standing for election in the seat of Darling Downs in regional Australia. He’s aided by his wife, daughter, agent, personal assistant, driver, security detail and ghost-writer – so what can go wrong?

Dugdale will be back on the hustings, seeking every publicity opportunity he can to get himself back into the public eye.

View more on the ABC website.

Keep an eye on this website during the series for some behind-the-scenes info on how it was filmed.

Stairway to Heaven specials start Wednesday

After much anticipation, Shaun’s Stairway to Heaven specials continue this Wednesday on SBS at 8:30pm.

Following on from his singular special in 2014, Shaun is continuing to immerse himself in the lives of those with “unshakable faith” to discover what gives them that faith, and wondering if there is more to life than being a semi-professional writer/comedian.

First up, Shaun travels to Salt Lake City to live, eat and pray with the Mormons before heading off with young missionaries to the jungles of the South Pacific. He then ventures to the Deserts of Utah to break bread with breakaway polygamists.

In Faith Healers (January 25th), Shaun immerses himself deep in the back blocks of Brazil, in the community of world famous medium and psychic spirit healer John of God for a chance to commune with the dead. Here Catholicism is intertwined with a belief in supernatural miracles, mediums and the afterlife.

Finally, Shaun wonders if Armageddon really is nigh (February 1st) and how to physically and spiritually prepare for the Apocalypse. Heading to America he undergoes biblical combat training with Doomsday Preppers  and explores the world of TV evangelism with Born Again Christian fundamentalists. On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he stands where Jesus is prophesied to return, before finally retreating to the Greek Island of Patmos where the Book of Revelation was scribed.

You can watch the first episode, Gods, Gurus and Ganges, on Vimeo.

Thanks to Artemis International for the information.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Rumours

Shaun, Stuart and a BananaEven since Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation finished in 2012, there have been rumours of the return of the successful show, especially given its flexible and original format.

The Australian has re-opened the rumours, saying ITV are shopping the show around the TV networks, with Channel Nine a likely destination. Interestingly, “sources” say Shaun is a likely host, but isn’t locked in yet.

Shaun himself has said that for him and the cast, the show was done, so not sure if this will develop further than a rumour….

Stairway to Heaven to air in January 2017

Shaun ponders the meaning of lifeShaun’s “Stairway to Heaven” series, which began with a single episode in 2014, will continue with a 3 part series in January on SBS.

As previously confirmed, Shaun is continuing on his quest for spiritual enlightenment, the meaning of life and finding out what drives people who have unshakable faith.

It’s a different kind of show for Shaun, who rather than taking a wry approach, is taking the journey and encounters very personally.

He will be looking at Mormonism in Salt Lake City, Spiritualism in Brazil, and Christian Fundamentalism in Texas. Previously he explored Hinduism in India.

Shaun did let us know that through this series, he does find some answers that bring about a conclusion to his quest.

The specials start 8:30pm Wednesday January 18th 2017 on SBS. Hopefully, the original special will be re-aired prior to the new ones.

Our 2016 Interview with Shaun

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: TV HottiesShaun has once again given us some of his valuable time after filming an episode of Mad As Hell recently to answer all our burning questions:


Has this season of Mad As Hell felt more frenetic because of the election which was impending and then imploded?

Tonight (episode 9) felt a lot stranger, because of what happened on Saturday (election) night. We had to put ourselves in a time machine and go ahead three days and think “what’s going to happen on Wednesday?” (They actually taped two openings due to the uncertainty of the election result at the time.)
Before we started, we thought this would be an interesting challenge, as we’ve never actually had to make a show during an election campaign; there was the faux election campaign of 2013 which seemed to go on all year. But this one was announced on the Sunday before we went to air. We anticipated there would be a lot more late writing on a Tuesday, but that hasn’t happened, and the election hasn’t altered the way we approach it at all, but it has focused us on more domestic and election topics, so the shows by the nature, when the election’s not on, tend to be about a range of topics. This season seems to be about 60% about the election, each show. I don’t think it’s made any different to way we do it, just the content.

Who do you think would be the best Prime Minister for comedy’s sake?

I have a suspicion that the next time we see a conservative PM in this country it will be Scott Morrison and he’ll be great. There’s just a confidence and an uncompromising quality about him that would be very valuable to us. I hope Malcolm does well and manages to hold it all together, but I think the next one’s going to be ScoMo.
On the Labor side, I hope Bill Shorten stays with us forever, but I’d like to see Tanya Plibersek or it might be Mark Dreyfuss. I think him against ScoMo might be really interesting.

Do you feel any obligation to bring out the crowd favourites like the Zinger or the Kraken, or only if the flow feels right?

If it feels right. I think we’ve learned that sometimes we write things for characters because we like the character, but we just edit them out, because there’s no reason for the character to be there. The characters are always a delivery system for a joke, rather than the joke in itself. Having said that there we quite a few characters who didn’t have nothing to do with anything tonight.

Francis was all made up as Bobo just…

..to not be there, and leave, yes. Sometimes it’s nice to burn these things to have them and not use, rather than them having nothing to do and having them hang around for too long.

What makes you want to perform a character yourself instead of having the ensemble perform it, such as Cardinal Nosey?

I get sick of sitting behind the desk, and want to play with the rest of them.

[Roz yells] They’re all Rollie!

[Replies, with a smile] No they’re not. Roz thinks all the characters I do sound like Rollie, a character I did in the Micallef Program. Bill Duthie is basically Rollie, just basically an idiot. He was an earnest older man, unaware of his surrounds, and Roz has rightly picked me as simply doing that character in a variety of different voices. Sometimes not even that.

So speaking of characters, why did you choose The Odd Couple to perform with the MTC?

It’s a good play, very good piece of writing. There were three vehicles that I thought would be suitable for Francis and I. One was Sleuth by Antony Shaffer, The Sunshine Boys and The Odd Couple, both by Neil Simon. Amazingly, it was thought we were too young for The Sunshine Boys, so we might do that in a few years, so The Odd Couple was the one we picked.

Will this be set in the 60’s as original written?

I think 1965 was when it originally went to Broadway, and that’s where we’ll set it. There’s something about no mobile phones, there’s something about the attitude towards marriage and women that is best set in the period, otherwise you have to apologise for it and explain it away.

For the casting, you told the audience tonight that weren’t really fussed which role you played and left it up to the director?

I was hoping it would be Felix (the tidy one), so I’m pleased about that. I would have been happy to have played Oscar (the messy one), that would have been more of a challenge.

Francis says you’re the neater one, closer to Felix in real life.

I think maybe that’s true, but I think Francis could have more easily played both. I think Oscar would have been a bit harder for me, so it’s worked out well.

(One option was also to swap roles every night, but that was decidedly too much of a challenge.)

You’ve finished filming the three new Stairway to Heaven specials?

Yes, they’ll be on in August.

How was it with these compared to the first one-off? Did you go in looking for something different?

No it’s the same (quest), because I don’t think I got the answer. I got part of an answer, but I felt less pushed this time, because I had three chances to find the answer. We did get there, we did find out what it was. Luckily in the last episode!

Previously we’ve talking about how people all around the world still love Mr and Mrs Murder, and how the dialog between the characters was so natural. We also spoke about how your nickname for Nicola came about but Mike want’s to know about her’s for you, Chaka-khan?

I came up with Charlie to call her Fizzy, and Kat came up with Nicole to call him Chaka-khan. I guess that comes from Charlie, and it amused Kat. It just sounded close enough and like a pet name. I remember Kat laughing a lot, we were both amused by the characters.

And Mad As Hell is back next year?

I’m not sure if I’m meant to announce it, but yes, we’re back mid next-year. I get to say “see you next year” at the end of the last episode, which I can’t usually.

Will this be your last season at Gordon Street (which is due to close, and where Shaun has filmed most of his shows)?

I think we’re here next year, one more season.


Stay tuned for our interview with Francis!

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. [Update: he revealed to The Advertiser that the other two would be about Catholicism in Brazil and another about apocalyptic churches preaching The Rapture in the US.]

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: