PHOTO: Gina Riley, left, and Jane Turner in Kath & Kim, which remains one of the most successful Australian comedy franchises ever made.CREDIT:ABC
The foxy ladies of Fountain Lakes are back, with the cast of cult comedy Kath & Kim reuniting this week to film a special to mark the 20th anniversary of the show.
Gina Riley, Jane Turner, Magda Szubanski, Glenn Robbins and Peter Rowsthorn have dragged their best shell suits out of storage and headed to the NEP studio complex in South Melbourne to record new material for a program that will air later this year.
The team is understood to be filming all week, recording new sketch material to sit alongside a selection of best-of and rare material in the one-off special.
Brighton’s finest, Prue and Trude, are also expected to make an appearance, alongside Kath Day-Knight (Turner), her daughter Kimberly Day Craig (Riley), Kath’s butcher husband Kel (Robbins) and Kim’s husband Brett (Rowsthorn) and second-best friend Sharon Strzelecki (Szubanski).
The special does not yet have a broadcaster officially attached, though the ABC, Seven and Netflix are all contenders, given the show’s rich and complicated broadcast history.
The titular characters first emerged on the Riley-Turner-Szubanski sketch show Big Girl’s Blouse on Channel Seven in 1994. Riley and Turner later developed the idea of a comedy series built on the eternally warring mother and daughter for the ABC, but the comedy division rejected the pilot. It was, however, commissioned by the ABC’s drama unit instead.
The first episode of Kath & Kim debuted in May 2002. The ABC commissioned two more seasons, for 24 episodes in total, over the next two years, and then aired a telemovie, Da Kath & Kim Code, in November 2005.
Code was the most-watched movie on TV that year, being viewed by an average audience of 2.1 million viewers in the five capital cities.
The consistently strong ratings for the franchise prompted Seven to splash $3 million to lure the team for a fourth season in 2007. Reports at the time claimed that wasn’t the biggest offer they received, but Riley and Turner had chosen Seven because they wanted “the biggest audience” possible for the show.
The first episode on Seven debuted to an audience of more than 2.5 million metro viewers. Across its eight-episode season audiences consistently topped 2 million.
Those sorts of figures are almost inconceivable in the present day, when streaming and digital channels have fragmented the audience for free-to-air television.
Indeed, since July 2019, Kath & Kim’s primary residence has been Netflix, which picked up all four seasons of the show along with the telemovie and the 2012 feature film Kath & Kimderella. The show screens globally on the platform, and is understood to be a consistent performer and one of the streamer’s most-memed titles on social media.
Nonetheless, industry sources suggest the special is most likely bound for Seven.
Given the real-life Patterson Lakes property that served as the fictional Chateau Kath was recently demolished, a slot on Seven would surely be a welcome homecoming for all concerned.
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