So to continue your education in all things Australian, we turn to television. Now, Australian TV is nothing to write home about. It follows American broadcasting rigidly, with advert breaks appearing what feels like every 5 minutes and awful current affairs shows bombarding every channel. However, occasionally a gem will appear, and in 2006 Thank God You’re Here hurtled it’s way onto Channel 10. Drawing inspiration from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show is based around one person improvising an entire scene. However, every other actor within the scene knows exactly what to do and where to lead the story. They all have (fairly loose) scripts but have to go along with wherever the improviser may take the scene, depending on just how much charge they can take.
The show begins as the picture above shows: Shane Bourne (tall guy in the centre) will introduce a group of comedians/actors/TV personalities to the audience and over the course of the show, each one will be led through a blue door and greeted with the line ‘Thank God you’re here!’. Then the fun begins as they have to work out who they are, where they are, and what to do to end the scene. Comedian Frank Woodley (grey suit, left of centre) appeared in the very first episode of the programme and set the bar to a phenomenally high standard:
Thank God You’re Here guests were mostly Australian comedians, but some international guests did join the show such as Ross Noble, Josie Long, and Arj Barker. The show has currently run for four seasons with no more in the pipeline for now, at least. It was such a huge success that it has been sold to 13 countries, one of which was the United Kingdom. Now, I don’t know if you ever caught one of the six episodes of the British version but if you did, you probably don’t remember it. When news broke that ITV had bought the rights to the show and that Paul Merton would be hosting it, I could barely control my excitement. The thought of the likes of Bill Bailey, Lee Evans, Peter Kay, or any other hugely successful and talented comedians taking part brought tears to my eyes. But instead, episode one kicked off with Fern Britton, Ben Miller, John Thomson and Aussie comedian Hamish Blake. Aside from Fern Britton, that’s a fairly acceptable cast right there, so my disappointment was slightly muted. But the show bombed. I cried into my pillow for a month, watched videos of the Australian version, and slowly got back to my day-to-day life. It was a complete and utter shambles of what could have been a hugely popular show.
However, the Australian version has had so many classic moments, it’s hard to pick a handful to post here. Here are just a few of my favourites, but I’m sure many fans will have made different choices…