The Late Show (Australian TV series)

The Late Show was a popular Australian comedy show, which ran for two seasons on ABC TV from 18 July 1992 to 30 October 1993.


The Late Show has its roots in the 1980s comedy group, The D-Generation. Consisting mostly of Melbourne University students, The D-Generation managed to gain a cult following with their radio and TV appearances.

After the breakup of the original The D-Generation, some of the members went on to perform on the commercial TV programme Fast Forward. The remaining members filmed several pilots for what was to be called The Late Late Show at Channel Nine. These were rejected, and so the group accepted the ABC's offer of a one-hour timeslot on Saturday night.


The Late Show featured a number of popular, recurring segments.

Introduction: Stand up

The show opened with a stand-up routine by Tony Martin and Mick Molloy. The stand-up was topical, usually focusing on the week's news. In 1995, the duo later went on to host their own radio show, Martin/Molloy on the Austereo Radio Network.

The Late Show News Headlines

The Late Show News Headlines, presented by Gleisner, would blend the week's real news headlines with fake information and footage. For example, when covering the replacement of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, footage from an Asian bodybuilding competition was shown. The News Headlines would also feature interviews with newsmakers, most often played by Rob. Some of the better-known impersonations included Jeff Kennett, John Hewson, Paul Keating, Imran Khan, Yassar Arafat, Gareth Evans and Desmond Tutu.

Street Talk

In Street Talk, Tony Martin and Mick Molloy would take to the streets of Melbourne and interview passers-by on issues of the day. These vox-pop interviews often proved more of an opportunity for the pair to ridicule their interviewees, especially their dress sense.

The Toilet Break

The Toilet Break, as the name suggests, was designed to allow viewers time to use the toilet during the commercial-free show. The 2-minute long segment was played in the middle of every show, featuring old music clips, with a countdown displayed on the top left-hand corner of the screen. During the first season, the toilet break consisted of clips from The Natural 7 from The Saturday Show. The second season played clips from 1987's Pot Luck.

Musical finale

All episodes in the second series ended with a musical performance. Tony Martin would announce that Mick Molloy had organised for a major celebrity to perform, only for Molloy to sheepishly admit he had booked a minor celebrity of a similar name usually possessing no musical ability. The humour in Molloy's recurring "errors" in booking the performers may have run dry if not for the hilarity of having well-known Australian non-musical celebrities and politicians performing.

The performances included:

The Late Show finale in 1993 had a 'real' guest on to sing at the finale: Don Lane, who was notably appearing on a competing network during the show's Saturday night timeslot. A famous non-guest was Jana Wendt whom the producers had hoped would either sing a song by Nirvana (Javana) or Bananarama (Janarama). Wendt never appeared.


Shitscared starred Rob Sitch as a stuntman combining Evel Knievel and Ed Wood (in that he was similarly unable to grasp his own sheer incompetence and lack of aptitude in his chosen field) compounded by the 'spanner in the works', Mick Molloy as his half-witted assistant and Tom Gleisner as the interviewer. Rob played the arrogant expert, who loved to pontificate about "the stunt game". He would fashion detailed plans for each stunt, with an emphasis on "safety". He would boast about his own significance, mumbling and glossing over any questions relating to poorly funded, rundown buildings and stunt apparatus variously referred to as 'Stunt HQ' . Mick would always manage to ruin Rob's planning, inevitably resulting in physical inury for Rob.

Pissweak World

Several-minute advertisements for mediocre theme parks with the 'Pissweak' brandname, e.g. Pissweak World, Ye Olde Pissweeke Worlde, Pissweak Movieworld, Pissweak Town. Each would feature a guided tour with examples of the many low-quality attractions. Featuring the Pissweak Kids and narration by Tony Martin.

Examples (from Pissweak Town):

  • "Ride a bucking Bronco" - clip showing a child sitting on a Labrador.
  • "See a bush printing press" - clip of a man holding a child's head on top of a photocopier printing out a copy.
  • "Ride a stage coach" - clip shows dejected children inside a trailer being driven down a road.

Graham and the Colonel

Similar to Roy and HG, Graham and the Colonel were two satirical sports commentators, played respectively by Sitch and Cilauro dressed in green ABC sports jackets. Whilst the characters often forgot lines and used many corny and humourless jokes, the segment was much loved. This segment aired just before the end of each episode.

The intro music for the segment was "Light and Tuneful" by Keith Mansfield, the same music used by the BBC to introduce its Wimbledon coverage.

The Olden Days

The Olden Days was a segment where the cast overdubbed Rush, a black-and-white historical drama series produced by the ABC in the 1970s. It was aired during the first series of the show.

Tony Martin did the voice of the star of the show, Governor Frontbottom (as well as Judge Muttonchops). Mick Molloy supplied the voice for the John Waters' character Sergeant Olden. Other characters were used intermittently.

The Olden Days was released by the ABC as a VHS video containing all the segments in order, although it has been out of publication for a number of years. On August 15, 2007, it was released on DVD in The Late Show Presents Bargearse and The Olden Days.


Replacing The Olden Days in the second series of the show, Bargearse was an overdubbed version of Bluey, a 70s police drama set in Melbourne, Australia. The segment was originally to be an overdubbing of an Australian soap opera, The Young Doctors, titled "Medical Hospital", but the rights to the footage were pulled at the last minute. The ABC series Truckies was considered for overdubbing in a segment intended to be titled "Truck Wits", before the writers settled on Bluey. This change left the writers with very little time, and as a result the planned 20 short episodes was cut down to 10, which aired in the second half of series two.

Bargearse was named after its protagonist, Detective Sergeant Bargearse, an overweight, moustache-sporting "rough-and-tumble" cop. The sketches exploited Bluey's weight with plentiful fat jokes, as well as many fart noises.

Bargearse was voiced by Tony Martin and his sidekicks, Ann Bourke and Detective Glen Twenty, were voiced by Judith Lucy and Rob Sitch respectively. Other minor characters were revoiced by Santo Cilauro, Mick Molloy and Jane Kennedy.

Lucky Grills, who played Bluey appeared on The Late Show three times: as a guest in the mock press conference for the Biodome participants, as the character Bluey protesting the last episode of Bargearse and in the musical appearance as noted above.

On August 15, 2007 a Bargearse and The Olden Days double feature DVD was released.

Shirty: The Slightly Aggressive Bear

Shirty: The Slightly Aggressive Bear was a parody of children's TV shows. The twist was that the main character, Shirty, would react harshly to even the smallest insult. Many episodes ended with a destroyed set, a firearm being shot, or injury to the other characters. In one of the later episodes, it was revealed on-screen that Shirty was played by the "Hando" character from Romper Stomper as portrayed by Russell Crowe. In every other episode Shirty was played by Rob Sitch.

Charlie the Wonderdog

Charlie the Wonderdog was a series of short episodes which first aired during The Late Show's second series. The segment was created after last-minute changes led to Bargearse's planned twenty episodes being cut down to ten. Starring Charles 'Bud' Tingwell and the "Pissweak Kids" (a group of children who also starred in the Pissweak World sketches), Charlie was a parody of fictitious animal shows, such as Lassie and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo in which the animal regularly ends up saving the day. Charlie was a dog owned in real-life by Gleisner.

The sketch featured purposely bad overacting from the children and usually involved an unimposing villain or disaster (such as a "poacher" stealing "native fauna" - sticks and twigs - from the bush) that had to be prevented. The actors would constantly praise Charlie as a highly intelligent "wonder dog", in contradiction of the behaviour of Charlie himself, who regularly had to be dragged around by a rope to perform stunts. When the dog was required to bark to alert the others of danger, obvious overdubbing was used over footage of Charlie with his mouth closed or looking distracted.

As the series went on, the problems and situations that Charlie faced became more and more over the top. Charlie was eventually assassinated in one of the sketches, only to come back in the Charlie the Wonderdog Christmas Episode.

Geoff and Terry

Geoff and Terry (Sitch and Cilauro respectively) were two conman entrepreneurs, who would appear regularly with a "new exciting product" or scheme. Sitch and Cilauro primarily used the segment to make Jane Kennedy, who played the interviewer, laugh and forget her lines. Jane Kennedy also admitted in the Best of the Late Show DVD commentary that she was in fact drunk during one of the live sketches.

After a particularly bad performance Sitch and Cilauro vowed never to do Geoff and Terry again and the pair were reborn as the Oz brothers.

Other segments

  • "The Oz Brothers", stereotypical Australians also played by Sitch and Cilauro, who were obsessed with cricketer David Boon and often prayed to him while facing his home town, Launceston.
  • Music video parodies, usually with a high-degree of visual accuracy.
  • Celebrity interviews, where Martin went through hours in make-up to play Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jackson.
  • "Commercial Crimestoppers", where amateurish commercials from regional Australia were mocked.
  • "Countdown Classics", a segment where Countdown music videos were ridiculed by Tom and Jane, who were dressed in 70s-era clothing, sitting on beanbags.
  • "Muckraking", a kind of celebrity gossip segment hosted by Molloy and Stephens, which often degenerated into irrelevant ranting.
  • "Mick's Serve", usually accompanying the news headlines Gleisner would get Molloy to comment on a topical issue. This resulted in Molloy ranting over the issue whilst becoming increasingly enraged. The event would end with Gleisner calling in men in white coats to douse Molloy and the news desk with fire extinguishers.
  • Tony Martin's "Masterpieces of Modern Cinema" where Martin would criticise substandard cinema, for example Jaws: The Revenge and The Armour of God.
  • "Sink the Slipper", a segment where one of the cast, usually Molloy, would identify and criticise a noted personality who had done or said something outrageous during the preceding week, and would then proceed to kick a fake pair of buttocks poking through part of the set which represented the personality. These segments were excluded from the VHS/DVD releases, purportedly for legal reasons.

Video/DVD releases

  • Three volumes of The Best Bits Of The Late Show were released on VHS, along with standalone compilations of Bargearse and The Olden Days.
  • In 2001, the ABC released a DVD entitled The Best Bits Of The Late Show: Champagne Edition, a double disc set collecting all three "Best Bits" volumes,as well as an additional hour of footage and a number of easter eggs. The DVD also featured a commentary track hosted by Tony Martin, but involving the entire cast and several special guests.
  • The Olden Days and Bargearse were released together on a double-feature DVD on August 15, 2007. The DVD also contains several excerpts and sketches from The Late Show in the form of special features. Additionally, there are another 17 excerpts hidden in the DVD menus.

After "The Late Show"

Citing the enormous effort involved in producing each week's show, and the desire to explore other formats, the cast decided that the second season of The Late Show would be the last. Most of the performers have remained prominent in the Australian comedy scene.

Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner, Santo Cilauro and Rob Sitch formed Working Dog Productions, and made the successful TV programmes Frontline (1994–1997), Funky Squad (1995), A River Somewhere (1997–1998), The Panel (1998–2004), All Aussie Adventures (2001-), and Thank God You're Here (2006-), and the successful movies The Castle (1997) and The Dish (2000).

Tony Martin and Mick Molloy had a top-rating radio show Martin/Molloy (1995–1998), before moving into film with Tackle Happy (2000), Crackerjack (2002), Bad Eggs (2003) and BoyTown (2006). Tony Martin hosted a radio show on the national Triple M network called Get This (2006–2007). Molloy hosted Tough Love from 2004 to 2006 and was then dropped from the radio station. Judith Lucy appeared in both Crackerjack and Bad Eggs, and continues to tour with a series of successful one-woman shows. Jason Stephens is now the Director of Development for Fremantlemedia Australia, one of Australia's leading independent television production companies. He was the creator behind The Choir of Hard Knocks Article - 'Choir offers sanctuary from ‘Hard Knocks’ ' He also produced and Co-Executive produced the 2007 film The King , the telemovie based on the life of Graham Kennedy lifestory. Jason also developed the comedy Newstopia (2007) starring Shaun Micallef.

See also


External links

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