17 May 2024

Comedy series throws a spotlight on Canberra, a place where people live - not always politically correctly

| Sally Hopman
Join the conversation
Two people in Canberra bush shelter

Canberra bus shelters are about to become famous well beyond our borders thanks to the release of a new ABC TV comedy which was filmed in the nation’s capital. Photo: Supplied.

It was one of the biggest TV productions ever filmed in Canberra and, for everyone involved in the project, hopes are high that it will show the nation’s capital as a place where people live – and not just a political town.

Austin, an eight-part comedy series filmed mainly in the ACT, premieres on ABC TV next month.

It was filmed in Canberra last year, showcasing the capital through the camera lens, but also providing a valuable opportunity for Canberrans to see how big productions are made – with 50 locals employed as crew members and more than 300 extras.

For the CEO of Screen Canberra, Holly Trueman, it was a win-win-win for Canberra, its locals and our reputation worldwide.

But it didn’t happen overnight. Months of planning went into getting the production to film in Canberra, selling its beauty to the production company.

“It has been a long conversation making this happen,” Dr Trueman said. “But it has been so worthwhile.

“The film crew was in Canberra for about six weeks but their production office was set up months before that, and it would be at least a couple of years since we first started talking about doing it in Canberra. The brains behind it all going so well was line producer Shannon Wilson McClinton – she’s the reason why it was so successful.

“She was the Canberra person on the ground making it all happen. When the director said, ‘I want this’ she had to make sure he got it.

“She was crucial to the whole production. Without her, as a local, I don’t think we would have seen so much Canberra on screen.”

READ ALSO Federal Budget: Multimillion-dollar ‘lifeline’ for Canberra Symphony

Other Canberrans involved in the production included drivers, caterers and a safety officer.

Dr Trueman said the safety officer had worked in the film business for years but this was the first time he didn’t have to travel outside his Canberra home to work.

woman standing in office

Screen Canberra’s Holly Trueman said the new Austin series filmed in Canberra was a boost to the local industry. Photo: Screen Canberra.

“He said he spent most of his working life commuting, but not on this job. The make-up artist, too, said most of her jobs were in Los Angeles so it was a treat to work from her home for once.”

From the first shot in the first episode, the audience will know exactly where the series was filmed. Throughout, images of local bookshops, cafes and even bus shelters make an appearance – as of course does the obligatory shot in front of Parliament House.

But the series is not about politics. Rather, it’s a comedy starring Michael Theo, acclaimed for his role in Love on the Spectrum, English actors Ben Miller (Bridgerton) and Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones Diary) and favourite Aussie actor Gia Carides (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

READ ALSO Brindabella Trefoil Guild calls on knitters to make winter warmer for Canberra’s needy

“This is one of the biggest productions to be shot here,” Dr Trueman said.

Secret City was a big one for us and it certainly did a lot for Canberra, but this is even bigger.”

Produced by the award-winning team at Northern Pictures, Austin tells the story of popular children’s author Julian Hartswood (Ben Miller) who inadvertently causes a social media storm and his career, and that of his illustrator wife Ingrid (Sally Phillips), look to be over. That is until Austin (Michael Theo), the neurodivergent son that Julian never knew, turns up out of the blue.

Austin starts on Sunday 9 June at 8 pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

What’s this? Another un-funny ABC comedy????

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.