Summer Heights High: articles

Mr G

Summer Heights High episode upsets ecstasy death family

THE parents of a woman who died after taking a party drug had to walk away from their TV in disgust while watching Wednesday's episode of the ABC's hit show Summer Heights High, which featured a storyline about the ecstasy death of a blonde student with the same name.

The ABC will make a public apology to Peter and Alison Catt, the parents of Elanora Heights dance teacher Annabel who died in February. ABC boss Mark Scott rang the Catts at their home to personally apologise.

However the ABC has said the show was filmed before Annabel Catt died and there was nothing they could do to avoid the "unfortunate coincidence".

While it has agreed to end next week's program with a message to the local family, the broadcaster is refusing to pull the the remaining shows that continue the storyline of beautiful blonde teenager "Annabel Dickson".

A photo of the character was used in the episode, with drama teacher Mr G using the death as fodder for a school musical promoted as "One girl, one pill, one hell of a night".

It included songs with the lyrics, "She's a party girl with a bad habit for drugs ... when girls take drugs and then they die, who would have thought at Summer Heights High".

Mr and Mrs Catt said the episode had caused their family enormous distress and they had called on the ABC to pull future episodes of the series which continue the ecstasy death storyline.

Annabel, 20, died on February 18 after taking an ecstasy tablet - later found to be the deadly drug PMA - at a Good Vibrations music festival.

Mr and Mrs Catt said: "We and many others immediately drew the conclusion the episode was making a comparison to our beloved daughter.

"This was done by naming the deceased in the show Annabel Dickson, describing her as blonde and beautiful and showing a picture that had a resemblance to our daughter."

They later said that ABC managing director Mark Scott had personally phoned them and that they had accepted his apology.

"The ABC and the producer sincerely apologise for this extremely unfortunate coincidence, and in hindsight, we feel we should have alerted the Catt family to the situation in advance of the broadcast," Mr Scott said.

"We apologise that this has caused further distress to the family."

The show also caused great anguish yesterday for staff and students at Annabel's former school, Narrabeen Sports High.


The ABC described the similarities as an unfortunate coincidence.

"All filming of Summer Heights High finished on February 7 this year - 11 days prior to the tragic death of Annabel Catt on February 18," ABC-TV director Kim Dalton said.

"ABC TV and the producer have both contacted the Catt family to explain the situation and to apologise for the extremely unfortunate coincidence that our fictional character has the same first name."

The show's creator and main actor, Chris Lilley, 32, was not available for comment.

An ABC spokeswoman confirmed the distressing parallels were known to the corporation. "We had finished production, it was all done. Of course we knew, the world knew, it was all over the newspapers. There was nothing we could do about it."

Asked why the Catt family were not told before the program aired, the spokeswoman declined to comment.

Annabel's older brother, Antony, said the show had "opened a massive wound" for his already traumatised family. "Shock, disbelief, anger - I could use a lot of adjectives to describe how I felt," he said.

"They have known about Annabel for months and they gave us no forewarning to say it's a terrible mistake and say sorry.

"We've got another five episodes of comparisons being drawn between this character and my little sister.

"This is the first time I have been genuinely angry since Annabel died."

By Lisa Capozzi
September 21, 2007
Manly Daily