Kath And Kim (ABC, 2002-2005, Seven, 2007)
It is surprising to realise just how few Australian comedy shows have been shown in the UK, most of the imports have come from America. I think that there might have been one sitcom shown on Carlton Select, and maybe one or two very late at night on Channel 4, but this has got to be the most successful one of them. And well, Neighbours was never like this!
Kath And Kim was a sitcom that centred around the lives of a mother and daughter who lived in Melbourne. The show was created and written by Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who had previously worked together on other comedy shows in the 90s including Big Girl’s Blouse. The opening theme was “The Joker” (which was co-written by Anthony Newley) and sung by Riley.
Kath (Turner) is the mother who likes to use exercise machines and is about to marry Kel, a butcher who is always trying to make sausages. Kim (Riley) is the daughter who is rather lazy but thinks she is stylish and describes herself as a “hornbag”. She has left her husband Brett, who works at a computer shop and moved back in with her mum. Her friend is Sharon (even though they bickered all the time), who always has an ailment, liked sausages, and played various sports, especially netball.
The show was almost made in a documentary style, because as the episodes played out, Kath and Kim offer their thoughts on the situations in a voiceover, and most episodes ended with them discussing various events. The first series centred around the build-up of Kath’s wedding to Kel, and the second around Kim giving birth to a daughter. They also played two women who worked in a homewares store.
The show also became famous for its rather bizarre turns of phrase, and its most popular catchphrase was Kath’s “look at moy, look at moy… now I’ve only got one word to say to you”. Kim would also often say things like “that was my last fat free Fruche!”, “I’m going to get my nails refilled”, and “what about sugared almonds?”. The popularity of Kath And Kim led to there being lots of guest star appearances in later episodes, and just about every famous Australian took part, including Barry Humphries, Kylie Minogue, and Shane Warne.
I think that Kath And Kim was first shown in this country on Living. Then not long after, it was shown on the Freeview channel FTN, where the first two series seemed to be repeated endlessly for a while, this is where I first saw them. Then in 2005, the early series were shown on BBC2 where they finally gained a much-bigger audience. I do have a memory of the yellow “2” ident introducing an episode, which changed to the announcer appearing in-vision as Kath and Kim in character were stood behind them, I’m fairly sure I didn’t imagine that.
There were 32 episodes in four series of Kath And Kim, and there were also two films and a short-lived American version. Only the first two series have been released on DVD (or “doy-voy-doy” as Kath would say) in this country though, which is rather frustrating. I definitely enjoyed watching it though, and it’s proof that Australian TV can do more than soaps.