Kath & Kim: articles


Hornbag line-up ... Kath & Kim's (from left) Peter Rowsthorn, Glenn Robbins, Gina Riley, Jane Turner and Magda Szubanski.

Worried, moiye?

As Kath & Kim's Gina Riley and Jane Turner prepare to transfer their successful sitcom from the ABC to Channel Seven, they admit they're nervous. But only about the new series. The risks of moving the foxymorons from Fountain Lakes to commercial TV don't seem to worry their waters in the least.

"Oh, look, you're always nervous about doing a new show," Riley says. "I would be nervous if the show was still on the ABC. Every new series - it's pretty nerve-racking putting it out there."

Turner agrees, saying the most worrying part for the pair was completing Kath & Kim as an independent production for the first time. "That's a big difference for this series," she says. "Rather than being under the wing of the ABC, just physically, we had to do everything ourselves. That was the big stress. To have to set up offices and employ everybody separately and not have all that help from the ABC or from a network."

Moving a successful show or personality from the ABC to commercial TV has not always run smoothly. In fact, for many it has been a bumpy, if not disastrous, ride. The ABC inspires a devoted, anti-commercial audience, so will they follow the beloved hornbags and hunks o' spunk to the other side?

Riley and Turner say that Kath & Kim, which has been sold to networks in the US, Britain, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Canada and Ireland, was never a typical ABC show. Since the pair signed to Seven, that network has made much of the fact that the characters of Kath and Kim first appeared in Seven's 1994 comedy show Big Girl's Blouse. Riley and Turner, who rose to fame in Seven's Fast Forward during the early 1990s, believe Kath & Kim never attracted conventional ABC viewers anyway and was already written in a commercial-TV fashion.

"We were like a commercial show on the ABC," Turner says. "We always had a very young demographic and we weren't particularly for the older, 55-plus generation. Even though we've got lots of fans in that age group, they weren't traditional ABC viewers."

Riley and Turner are adamant that moving Kath & Kim from the ABC will not affect the show. The latest series, the show's fourth, was written before they knew where it would air and, after viewing an edited version featuring ad breaks, they believe commercials won't make that much difference.

"[The ads] surprisingly seem absolutely fine," Turner says. "The first break doesn't come until about 10 minutes in and they don't feel too intrusive to us because the story really gets under way. There's only about three ad breaks and Channel Seven has been really good about cutting down the length of the ad breaks. And, of course," she jokes, "our show being such a thriller, every ad break goes out on an incredible cliffhanger."

Turner also points out that as Kath & Kim doesn't have long scenes or crucial links, ads won't interfere too much with its flow. "Anyway, I think everyone is so used to ads for any show. Whether it's a documentary or a quiz show, they automatically adjust and just keep in their mind what the story is," she says. "I don't really think it affects it but we'll see what the audience has to say. I guess there is a possible chance they'll lose track of our intricate storylines."

Turner and Riley laugh uproariously at such an idea but Kath & Kim is no simple program to make. It has been nearly three years since the third series was screened and nearly two years since the telemovie Da Kath and Kim Code aired, and the pressure to maintain their success is high. A US version of the show stalled earlier this year when the pilot was not selected for NBC's 2007-08 schedule. Last month, however, the network announced a new writer had been assigned to the project.

"We're executive producers and they have spent a lot of time consulting with us," Turner says. "They've got really good people working on it and they seem to have the right sensibility about it, so hopefully it'll be along the same lines but just an American version."

For the fourth series, viewers can expect a feast of guest appearances including Eric Bana, Kylie Kwong, Shane Warne (appearing as Sharon's love interest) and Little Britain's Matt Lucas.

"We just start from where we left off last time," Turner says. "Epponnee's growing up, Kim and Brett are still at the house, and Kath and Kel are very much in the swing of being a married couple. There are a lot of new cozzies, a lot of new looks. Oh, and we've also got quite a new design in the back garden - a shade cloth and a new Zen garden."

Kath & Kim begins on Seven on Sunday at 7.30pm.

By Lenny Ann Low August 13, 2007 The Daily Telegraph