Mercado on TV: Austin is another hit Aussie comedy as audiences warm to local sitcoms


TV Gold podcast: Eric, Colin From Accounts and Austin + Bonus episode with Easy Tiger’s Ian Collie and Rob Gibson.

Austin (Sunday on ABC, all episodes on iview) is a fantastic new Aussie comedy that nails it from the first episode. Whoever decided to centre a sitcom around Michael Theo, based on his work in Love On The Spectrum, is a deadset genius because he is more than a reality star, he is an actor with brilliant comedy chops. Let’s give credit to the team at Northern Pictures, also the home of Love on the Spectrum.

Theo plays Austin, an autistic forklift driver who announces to visiting author Julian Hartswood (Ben Miller) that he is his long-lost son. The cast also includes Julian’s wife Ingrid (Sally Phillips), Austin’s mum (Gia Carides) and grandad (Roy Billing). And as a five-piece ensemble, they are perfection.

Filmed in the UK and Canberra (and who knew the nation’s capital could deliver such a comedy gem), Austin is the latest in a long line of co-productions between the UK and Australia. Since the earliest days of TV, Australia has always put out a welcome mate for visiting English comedians.

See also: Mercado on TV – Colin From Accounts joins the ranks of iconic Australian TV comedies

Miriam Carlin became infamous for her militant catchphrase “Everybody out!” which she used in the UK sitcom The Rag Trade (1961) when ordering co-workers to strike. In 1966, she became a regular on The Mavis Bramston Show (Seven) despite the show poking fun at Australia’s worship of English stars. 

In 1972, Seven and the BBC teamed up to make a sitcom called Birds In The Bush, in which an Englishman (Hugh Lloyd) and his Aussie brother (Ron Frazer) inherited an outback property full of scantily clad young girls (Briony Behets, Ann Sidney, Elli Maclure etc).

Michael Theo is Austin

In the 80s, sitcoms like Are You Being Served? and Father Dear Father came down under to repeat the format in an Aussie setting. This phenomenon thankfully came to an end with Love Thy Neighbour in Australia, in which Jack Smethurst moaned about having to live in… wait for it… Blacktown. 

Nobody back then could have imagined a day when we would stop punching down at minorities and find a new way to make them the centre of the action. Austin’s neurodivergence isn’t milked for cheap laughs, because nobody needs to see that when his deadpan delivery is so brutally hilarious.

Bravo to the ABC for not only commissioning a new Aussie comedy, but giving it a great lead-in on Sundays with Spicks and Specks. The quiz show now only runs for a tight 30 minutes, thereby allowing it to be paired with Austin as a must-see double bill. Austin is so good that I expect most of its audience to binge it all on iview.

TV Gold: Two new episodes of Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.

We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].

This week on TV GoldAustin, Eric, Colin From Accounts

Two Australian sitcoms and a major Netflix drama in this episode.

Eric (Netflix, series) stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a talented yet troubled New York kids TV guru in this crime thriller. A great supporting cast, New York in the 1980s, and a brilliant soundtrack.

Colin From Accounts (Binge/Foxtel) continues the great work started by Harriet Dyer, Patrick Brammall and the talented creatives assembled by the Easy Tiger team.

Austin (ABC/iview) features the talented Michael Theo working with British actors Ben Miller and Sally Phillips with a great supporting cast including Gia Carides and Roy Billing.

TV Gold bonus episode: Inside Colin From Accounts

As the second series of the now iconic Australian comedy Colin From Accounts drops on Binge and Foxtel, TV Gold meets the makers. TV Gold hosts Andrew Mercado and James Manning talk with Easy Tiger producers Ian Collie and Rob Gibson about their first meeting with Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall and how together they turned their idea into a global hit. In addition to Colin From Accounts, we also get an update on Easy Tiger, which is also home to other TV hits including One Night, Scrublands, and The Twelve.

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

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