Summer Heights High: articles

Summer Heights High 'a rip-off'

Hit television comedy star Chris Lilley has been accused of ripping off ideas for his controversial comedy smash, Summer Heights High.

A teacher who worked on a failed sitcom seven years ago has claimed Lilley ripped off characters and plot from his series Sit Down, Shut Up.

Michael Reed, 42, helped write the script for the show, set in an outer suburban school called Carpen Heights High and starring Stephen Curry and Marg Downey. It ran for 13 episodes on Channel 10 in 2000.

He says Lilley borrowed the Heights High name of the fictitious school and the character of Mr G, the flamboyant drama teacher.

"I'm a little bit bemused by it," Mr Reed said. "We'd have to wait another 10 years for it to all die down so we could do it (the show) again."

Sit Down, Shut Up was about life in the staff room, rather than the classroom, but the Mr G character mirrors the earlier show's self-absorbed drama teacher, Brent Townsend-Ross.

The first episode of Summer Heights High was the ABC's highest-rating comedy premiere since 1992, attracting 1.6 million viewers when at its peak. The show's publicist Kelly Davis rejected the idea that Lilley lifted the Mr G character.

"It's all Chris's creation," she said. "But we do get a lot of people ring up and say 'I'm Mr G' or 'I'm Ja'ime they have based it on me'."

Ms Davis said Lilley devised the Mr G character during his time on Channel 7 comedy Big Bite in 2003.

It's not the first time Summer Heights High has hit the headlines.

It sparked controversy after it featured fictional character Annabel dying of a drug overdose. The parents of 20-year-old Sydney dance teacher Annabel Catt, who died in February after taking two ecstasy tablets at the Good Vibrations music festival, were outraged.

By Steve Drill
October 14, 2007
The Sunday Mail