Kath & Kim: articles


KATH, Kim and the whole gang are returning to our screens at last. But this time they're on a new channel - and with a few new feathered friend.

Much to crow about

Stone the crows, it's Kath and Kim - right there. Our suburban goddesses are wandering around the village square of the Coolum resort on Queensland's Sunshine Coast on the hunt for souvenirs.

They've got an audience - it's primarily made up of the loudest murder of croaking crows you've ever heard, which perch, watch and pass bellowing crow comments as Kath (Jane Turner) and Kim (Gina Riley) turn to discover a frantic and distraught Kel (Glenn Robbins).

The rest of the audience is made up of several dozen real-life guests in this operating resort, eating breakfast and watching recording of the new series of Kath & Kim.

It's an odd but credible K&K situation. Crows, famous actors, and fans of the show, who are also its inspiration, all there together in a family resort.

"The guests have been really good," Riley says. "They were all really friendly on the first day and we thought they might have all turned by now because we've had to close the pool and take over other areas. But they've been putting their hands up to be extras, and now we're just part of the furniture."

The crows will also star, if more in voice than body, when this holiday episode introduces the fourth season of the comedy, which will be seen on Seven and not the ABC for the first time.

"The crows were an intricate part of the plotline that none of us knew about beforehand," confides Peter Rowsthorn, who plays Brett.

Indeed Riley and Turner had to re-write the completed script to cater for the fact the crows are easily heard in all outdoor scenes.

"They're shocking, but we had to include them because they'll be throughout the episode,"says Turner.

It's the first time that the show has gone on the road and it's a good opener for the new series. Without giving too much away, it's not the best family holiday and Kath goes missing.

It's no understatement to say that, in character, the actors look like any other guests, except for their famous faces - and maybe Kel's heavily Brylcreemed hair. But otherwise they blend right in.

"Real life supplies all our material," Riley confirms. "When we were writing this episode about the trip, everyone was saying they'd go on rides and go out to see things. But we said nah, it's all about buffet breakfasts and sitting around the pool - what people do when they're here, what we would do here."

Riley then utters the first couple of words of her next sentence before Turner takes over to finish it. They do a lot of that after more than 15 years together in their own unique writing and performing partnership.

"Every time we say, 'No way, we're never doing it again', we end up sitting back and eventually wondering, 'What are we going to do now?'," says Turner.

"We spend time getting ideas together until there's enough to start writing again, and off we go. We think there'll be a time when the ideas run out, but because they're based on real people living real lives, there's endless material."

It's been a while since we've seen the gang. Kim's baby Epponnee-Rae is now a toddler, Kel has taken his butchery business into the online world, Brett is growing in confidence and Sharon (Magda Szubanksi) is, well, Sharon.

"There's a myriad themes going on," says Riley, before Turner says. "We're growing much older and wiser and Epponnee is no longer an infant."

"It's just what naturally happens in families everyday and the issues they deal with in Australia: education, the environment, ageing, jobs - issues galore.

And we do try to keep it topical. If something is affecting ordinary Australians then it affects this family, so we weave things like the IR laws into the stories."

Rowsthorn reveals the fourth series is the first time he's felt entirely comfortable. He says the key to the series is physical, as the gags aren't too evident from a quick read of the script.

"I didn't get the humour in the first series off the page. It's all about the performance," he admits. "The jokes weren't jumping off the page when I first read it and you had to see the thing in action before the humour and word twists start to work.

"This is the strongest series for me. My storylines are the best they've been and I feel I'm at my strongest comically. So I'm really happy.

"I've always had subplots, but these are a lot fuller, and what I think I'm best at is reacting to situations within Brett's character because he's the realist among the characters.

"He's the most tepid, and he's more like the audience reacting to the situations than a character."

Kath and Kim were first seen on Seven's Big Girl's Blouse in 1995 and Turner and Riley are returning to Seven after developing the previous series for the ABC.

Turner says K&K's structure means that ads won't be a huge problem.

"We're used to writing for commercial TV and we write quite commercially anyway with big dramatic moments or jokes at the end of scenes, so it won't be a problem fitting the ads in," she says.

"It feels quite natural just to be going back to commercial TV after cutting our (full-length series) teeth at the ABC, which is a great breeding and training ground for us to be writing long form and not just sketches. So it doesn't feel any different, just exciting."

By Marcus Casey
August 16, 2007
The Daily Telegraph