1 9 8 3 – 1 9 8 4 (Australia)
During the first series of Australia, You’re Standing In It, complaints flooded in every time the show lampooned God or the Queen.
The scripts were written and performed by Steve Blackburn, Geoff Brookes and (husband and wife team) Mary Kenneally and Rod Quantock, who all came from the inner-Melbourne theatre restaurant scene.
AYSII was in many ways the brainchild of ABC producer-director Noel Price.
In the late seventies, he was producing language programmes for children in the ABC’s education department using actors from the Australian Performing Group and theatre restaurant scene to impart rather abstract ideas through comedy.
The programmes (Magic Bag and Words Fail Me) were so successful that Price suggested an evening comedy programme to the ABC hierarchy.
Four years, and two pilots later, the result was AYSII, but without Noel Price who in the meantime had been reefed back to ABC drama.
One of the most successful segments of the show was Brainspace with Tim and Debbie (which was quite simply “A-mazing”).
The couple were typical of those alternative left-wingers who run community centres and student radio. They were PC before it became fashionable.
Offers of television and radio commercials flooded in to Tim (Steve Blackburn) and Debbie (Mary Kenneally) and, when the answer was no, advertising agencies went ahead anyway using Tim and Debbie impersonators.
Other memorable characters included the incorrigible Dodgy Brothers – Wayne and Arthur (brilliantly played by Steve Blackburn and Geoff Brookes) – and a whole array of shonky operations and deals; an Australian Jewess called Rachael; the ultra-right-wing voice of bigotry, Bruce Rump, a stickler for the virtues of God, Queen and country who got stuck into commos, pinko teachers and gays (not necessarily in that order); and the oddball Kev and Kevette whose unusual habits included wearing teapots and collecting catalogues.