Whose Line Is It Anyway? has been a staple on our TVs for decades. It launched in the UK in 1988 where it ran until 1997, before moving to the US in 1998, where it’s enjoyed two stints on air.
And now, finally, an Australian version is about to make its debut.
Premiering on Foxtel’s Comedy Channel on Sunday, November 27, the local version features established and up and coming comedic talent.
Tommy Little brings it all together as host. Although ringmaster may be a better description.
As with the UK and US versions, the Aussie show sees comedians put through their paces in all sorts of scenarios. A live band on stage gives an extra edge and energy to proceedings.
It’s very familiar, but is in no way a cheap knock off or a just re-hash of the original. The humour is very Australian, with a healthy dose of Kiwi wit from Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) and Cal Wilson (Have You Been Paying Attention, Thank God You’re Here, QI).
“It’s such an interesting group of people and we all became great friends." Wilson told DeciderTV, "We only had two weeks together (before recording) and in those two weeks, we spent every day together. I’d go home at night and it’d be like ‘I can’t wait until tomorrow’.
I mean we didn’t have to go off and kill a pig in the wilderness or anything, but we had so much fun bonding together in those two weeks, it was great.
It’s just been a dream to work on and it’s great to have so many women in the cast. I’m gushing about it like it’s a new boyfriend, but the whole thing has been fantastic”.
Further differentiating itself from the British and American versions is the casting. Four of the seven cast members are women. Apart from Cal Wilson, there’s Bridie Connel, Tegan Higginbotham and Suzy Youssef.
Youssef is no stranger to the world of improv, and cut her teeth at the legendary iO theatre in Chicago where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler also got their start. While some might find it terrifying, Suzy revels in it.
“People say ‘it must be so nerve wracking’ but I’m like ‘but it feels so good. It’s such an incredible rush’. And even though you have to have something on your mind at all times, you just have to be in the moment at all times and ready for what ever happens next.
When you’ve got a group like this bunch around you, it’s so exciting. You really couldn’t cast it any better than it is.
And it’s very playful. It’s a much younger cast than the UK and US versions. Some of our performers are such loose cannons that you’re kept on the tip of your toes at all times”.
One of those ‘loose cannons’ is Tom Walker. Trained at the prestigious acting and clown school Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris, Walker admits he constantly ‘stuffed up’, but had a lot of fun doing it.
“I constantly effed up. This show just basically serves as documentation of how stupid I am. I should not be allowed to drive.
“It was insane, but at the end of the day what we’re trying to do is make each other laugh. The greatest prize that you can get is getting the people on stage with you just losing it”.
And it was so fun being able to ‘play’ in front of camera with people that you love and respect and think are funny.
Steen Raskopoulos rounds out the cast, which seems very comfortable in each other’s company from the get-go.
While the show has yet to make its premiere, all involved are hopeful of a second season. And so they should be. Based on the first two episodes, they should be a lot more than just modestly ‘hopeful’ of another go-around.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia is fun and long overdue. Foxtel should be congratulated for taking a punt on an Aussie version of this comedy favourite. They should also be given a big nudge to green-light season two and they might as well just do it now.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia premieres on Foxtel’s Comedy Channel Sunday November 27 at 7.30pm
Nikole Gunn has been a watcher of TV since the 70s. A writer of words since the 80s. A reader of the news since the 90s; mostly on Triple M, Nova and Gold.
Twitter - @NikoleGunn