1 9 9 6 (Australia)
7 x 30 minute episodes
Josephine Donnelly (Genevieve Lemon) is a 30-something single white female who shares her home with flatmate Colin (Giordano Gangl), an aspiring beefcake who is more cake than beef.
Also known as “Raven” (the professional name he adopts in his ambition to become a Chippendale), Colin is imbecilic, fat and large bosomed but full of goodwill and performs macho dances that are the comic destruction of obscene male dancing.
Jo, Josie or Jojo (whose names reflect other people’s attitudes toward her) is a sturdy woman with a lousy job and a beat-up car. She is an engaging, spirited slob who loves binge eating and hates diets and exercise.
She also hates her sister, Grace (Emily Weare) – who is currently engaged to Jo’s ex-boyfriend – and her mother, Mary (Kerry Walker). Her slender and elegant best mate, Mae (Genevieve Mooy) is a lipstick lesbian who runs a bridal shop.
Veteran Aussie actress June Salter appeared as Jo’s grandmother, Kath – an urban guerilla who is constantly having arguments at the supermarket where she makes holes in packets of sugar, argues about prices and has a particular loathing for barcodes.
Bruce Spence appeared, all too briefly, in a series of brilliant cameos as droll fish and chip shop owner, Pete.
Debuting on Monday 11 March 1996, this subversive seven-part comedy series from the ABC – written by Julie Harris, who had a precise ear for the vulgarities and obscenities of the Australian vernacular – aired at 8.00 pm.
Harris teamed up with John O’Grady and Geoff Portmann, the script editor/producer and director of Mother and Son to create a show that was profoundly Australian – rough as guts and expecting belly laughs of recognition rather than politely canned laughter.
Unfortunately, the line between black comedy and tiresome whingeing is a fine one and the ABC declined to produce a second season.
NB: The title – After The Beep – referred to Jo’s refusal to answer the phone in person, and every episode began with a message on her answering machine. The cartoon illustrations for the series’ credits were by Mary Leunig.
Josephine ‘Jo’ Donnelly