The series was an offshoot the duo's long-running, groundbreaking improvised radio comedy series This Sporting Life (TSL), which premiered on the Triple J radio network in 1986 and is still in production. Doyle and Pickhaver first essayed a TV adaptation of TSL in 1993, but that series was only partially successful and suffered from the limitations imposed by its predominant 'talking head' style.
Its successor Club Buggery, broke these limitations by creating an innovative blend of format elements including variety, talk and sketch comedy. It referenced many Australian club and TV entertainment genres including the RSL club circuit, and vintage television programs in the sport, variety, quiz, talk and music genres. The intertextual and subversive nature of the humour was evidenced by the title.
In most English speaking countries, the word 'buggery' has two quite specific and extremely negative meanings -- one refers to the act of anal intercourse, and the other to the charge in law that proscribes that act. But in Australian English, the word 'buggery' and its derivations have taken on a remarkably broad range of uses, many of which are generally understood as being slightly (and usually deliberately) exaggerated and comical in tone, and while probably considered somewhat 'common', most of these usages are now quite broadly accepted and are in general not considered overly offensive. It was this peculiar Australian usage pattern which obviously made it attractive to Doyle and Pickhaver as a title.
For example – one can tell someone to 'go to buggery', which is a slightly stronger equivalent to the American expression 'take a hike'. The adverb 'buggered' is also widely used and often refers to a broken or defective object ('my car's buggered') or is used as a means of expressing tiredness or exhaustion ('I'm buggered after that bushwalk'). The word can also be used as an expression of lack, such as in the phrase "There's bugger-all money left in the bank". But this novel range of usages is evidently unique to Australia, and the use of the word 'buggery' in the series title was a source of some amazement to overseas guests such as comedian Mike Myers.
Essentially a blend of variety, talk show, and sketch comedy. The show interspersed interviews with guests, giveaway segments, discussion and comment by Roy & HG, music segments, pre-taped comedy inserts (including a soap opera parody performed by a number of famous sporting personalities including footballers Paul Sironen and Warren Boland) and a closing musical performance by a well-known Australasian music star of the past.
The guest interviews were often highlights of the show, as Roy and HG honed their hilariously and often revealing two-handed 'good cop/bad cop' interview style. Typically HG opened by asking some seemingly innocuous questions (some of which had a subtle sting) and he was followed by Roy, who had a much more probing and sarcastic manner and specialised in asking questions that put the guest 'on the spot'.
The program ran for two series of 28 episodes each under the title Club Buggery and it then was retitled as The Channel Nine Show (retaining the same basic format) for a further series of ten episodes in 1998. The title was a reference to both a vintage TV series (it was the Sydney title of the famous Melbourne-based variety series In Melbourne Tonight, presented by the late Graham Kennedy), as well as referring ironically to contemporary rumours that the duo were leaving the ABC to go to the Kerry Packer-owned Nine Network.
Later in 1998 they presented the similarly-formatted Planet Norwich, which was recorded in the UK and presumably intended for the British market. Some time later they also presented segments as part of a comedy series hosted by British comedian Ben Elton.
The duo scored their greatest successes and reached a peak of popularity in 2000. Having moved to the commercial Seven Network, the official Australian broadcaster for the 2000 Summer Olympics, they were ideally placed to present a new version of the This Sporting Life concept. The series, The Dream with Roy and HG, gained record ratings and won them a huge new audience, and made their unofficial animal mascot, 'Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat', into a national icon.
On Air: A Couple of Fair-Dinkum Stirrers in Trying to Make Each Other Laugh, Roy and HG Manage to Keep Australia - and Soon, Britain - in Stitches
Sep 14, 1998; I've always been drawn to ideas, figures and issues that shit me," says John Doyle, one half of the legendary Australian comic...