Last year, I had the enviable task of interviewing Shaun about his latest works. Unfortunately we ran out of time, so he kindly answered the rest via email… and through the busyness of last year – I forgot to post it!
So, as originally promised, part 2 of the 2012 interview: (some facts may have changed since first answered)
Me: You’ve traditionally been very private about your family and home life, what made you decide to participate in Who Do You Think You Are?
Shaun: I would never want to take part in a documentary about myself. I don’t even like doing an interview unless I’m plugging something and I can do some shtick. Sometimes if it’s someone I know well, I’ll do it (like Tony Martin) but otherwise I just assume people really wouldn’t be that fascinated by me blathering on about myself. It’s okay on a website like this because people come looking for it – but on TV it’s a bit different and has a slightly higher obligation to be a bit entertaining (sorry Stuart). WDYTYA was a bit different though: part history lesson and part travelogue. I thought it would be interesting and was surprised that I opened up emotionally (for me).
Your appearance on the show got such a response from people who felt connected to your story. Did you imagine that would happen?
I must admit I hadn’t thought about that. I was amazed at the number of people who watched it, who actually knew my father. Quite a few people lived in the same street and remembered the bombing. My cousin contacted me (I have not seen her for many years) to tell me the two little girls who were killed (and who shared our surname) were, in fact, related to us. Very sad obviously. But the whole point of the series is to connect with people – and it did that.
Has what you found out in WDYTYA changed things for you and your relationships? (If it’s not too personal)
Well, it did for a while – I was all charged up with embracing my family and looking up relatives I haven’t spoken to in decades – but I have since reverted to my usual aloof self.
How long have you been planning Mr and Mrs Murder? Is there anything you can give away about it?
Mr & Mrs Murder was an idea Jason Stephens and I had a couple of years ago. We had been trying to hatch a project for myself and Kat for a while ) We’d both come up with Newstopia back in 2008 – along with Gary and Michael). There was a sketch show the ABC were interested in which turned out to be too expensive (the doctor-wants-your-husband’s-bed sketch from MAH was written for the Pilot). Mr & Mrs is the one that TEN liked. Can’t give away too much as TEN like thinking they are in charge and will get cross if I reveal anything…like that my character is a Martian and Kat’s character is actually a robot. Oops.
Are you looking forward to concentrating more on the acting?
I’m always acting – even when I’m not on screen. But I am looking forward to just acting and not having to produce or write the show.
You worked with Kat in Newstopia, and obviously developed a bond. Was it a preference to work with her in a more dramatic role rather than having her join Mad As Hell?
Well, I loved working with everyone in Newstopia but we wanted to make Mad as Hell a new show – or as new as possible, given the type of show it was – and that is why we didn’t use the same cast. I’d work with Kat in anything – the same goes for Nicholas Bell, Julie Eckersly, Ben Anderson and Peter Houghton. All brilliant.
Jenn asks: After a busy year with TAYG, MAH and Mr and Mrs Murder, will you be taking a break or are you keen to jump straight into the next project (or the next season of MAH?)
MAH returns early next year. Not sure what’s happening beyond that. I may get time to work on my new book.
There have been a few in-jokes in MAH – such as the parrot sketch reference, the two iced vovos, the TV guide description mirroring Welcher and Welcher – do you (or the other writers) like to add them for those who’ll notice them, or purely for your own enjoyment?
Michael Ward wrote the sketch with the dead parrot reference, Gary wrote the one with the iced vovos in it and I wrote the program descriptions. Personal tics and favourite references turn up all the time but are rarely the point of a joke or front and centre in a sketch. I suppose it’s a way of personalising the material. Gary’s sketches tend to have characters named after SANFL footballers and be about form rather than character, Michael’s tend to be mostly about characters who are idiots and mine involve me sitting at the desk, nodding.
Mr Griffiths asks: Where do you get your ideas for your sketches from?
There’s an internet site we use.
Have you enjoyed bringing back old characters like Nobby and Milo?
In MAH we had some jokes which required an immensely stupid character, so I resurrected Nobby. Milo didn’t make an appearance (unless you count Francis’s impression of him in the last episode). I did notice that Nobby seemed a bit sad and lonely looking. My hair is now so white Nobby had to wear a beanie.
What does Gary think of these old characters returning!?
I think Gary was happy to see Nobby. He used to write the sketches for him when he was on Full Frontal. Hard to tell what Gary is thinking. He’s so mysterious.
Has Mr William Duthie become a new favourite?
I liked him. Michael Ward and I wrote the sketches. He might have done his dash though as he became increasingly senile over his five appearances. Keen eyed viewers will note he looks a bit like a character I played in the Micallef Program who burns down a nursing home.
Alex asks: I’m all the way up here in Brisbane, and it’s hard for me to get down to Melbourne, but one day I would love to meet you Shaun! Do you have anything planned in the future in terms of a tour?
Nothing planned as yet, Alex, but I’m always thinking about doing a stage show of some description – perhaps with Francis. I have the title: ‘An Audience in front of Shaun Micallef (and Francis Greenslade) but no actual show written as yet.
Mardi asks: On the scale of one to ten, do you still have the superball I gave you?
Jenn asks: What is your weapon of choice in the inevitable zombie apocalypse?
Ka-Bar Black Cutlass Machete. Maybe also take out an AVO.
Thanks to Shaun for continuing to be pestered by my questions!