When Australian actress Harriet Dyer got bored one arduous day in lockdown, she put pen to paper to write a TV show.
The Invisible Man and Love Child star has appeared in back-to-back projects for a decade now, but writing? That was a first, and initially, it was just something to make use of what felt like lost time.
A short week later, she had an earnest, bitingly witty comedy series on her hands that would eventually be snapped up for production by Australian streaming service, Binge.
“I was like, mate, this is actually really good,” her husband, Offspring dreamboat Patrick Brammall, 46, tells news.com.au of reading Dyer’s draft script for the first time.
“She had never written before, this was her first go at it. And we’re so proud of what we’ve done with it.”
That comedy series is the soon-to-premiere Colin From Accounts, which the LA-based couple both star in.
The eight-part show, which premieres with a full-season drop on December 1, marks Binge’s second original production, and its first foray into the intimidating world of scripted comedy.
Dyer, 35, plays Ashley, an all-over-the-shop medical student whose tendency to act without thinking lands her in all-too-relatable pickles (there are several toilet faux pas one would be lying if they said they couldn’t relate to).
Reeling from a dating setback, Ashley recklessly flashes her boob at a stranger, brewery owner Gordon (Brammall), while he’s driving to work, causing him to hit a stray dog.
It turns out to be somewhat of an extreme sliding doors moment; the pair finding themselves thrust together as unlikely caretakers (and bill payers) for the permanently injured hound, who they later name (you guessed it) Colin From Accounts, in a nod to millennial-era banter viewers will immediately grasp without further explanation.
The characters’ stinging one-liners and awkward The Office style interactions feel entirely off the cuff, and given their close relationship off-screen, it would be fair to assume a large chunk of it was improvised. But that’s not the case.
“I think 95 per cent of it is scripted actually,” Brammall says.
“We would sometimes do a few takes before they’d let us improvise a bit, but most of what you see was in the script.
“We wanted it to feel natural but there was a lot of effort put into the script to make it seem that way, so that’s really the biggest compliment we could receive.”
We talk at length about the belly laughs – and the smaller characters that are just as funny as the protagonists (Dyer and Brammall hired a lot of their friends for cameos) – but Colin From Accounts is at its core a modern-day love story. And what’s a love story without some tears?
“You can definitely expect those deeper moments,” Dyer says.
While it doesn’t show in the finished product, it was a difficult time to be filming a TV show. Colin From Accounts was shot in Sydney in early 2021 during the second Covid wave.
If one person got sick, that was it. They’d have to shut down and suffer expensive delays.
On top of all the rules and protocols of filming during an unprecedented pandemic, the pair were first-time parents with a four-month old daughter at home. Little Joni is now 14 months old.
“We would just get home late and she’d be in bed and we’d be like, ‘I hope she remembers us,’” Dyer says. “But we were very much used to working as a team.”
It’s fair to say stress shrouded the process, but it’s not the leading emotion they associate with the project.
“It was definitely a lot of work, but we just had so much fun. We really were laughing every day,” Brammall says.
“And we really put an effort into keeping morale up,” Dyer adds. “We’d play games on set, like hiding a $50 note that someone would have to find that day.
“I think, honestly, the dog was the most professional actor on set.”
Stream Colin From Accounts from December 1 on BINGE. New customers get a 14-day free trial and start streaming instantly. Sign up at binge.com.au
It’s not too often an Australian-made comedy series is picked up for production, particularly on leading networks like Nine and Seven where drama reigns supreme, making Colin From Accounts somewhat of a stand-alone viewing experience for local streaming fans this summer.
Dyer largely puts the lack of comedy on offer down to it being an “incredibly hard” genre to get over the line.
“It’s so much easier to make people cry than it is to make them laugh,” Dyer says. “I have so much respect for the Australian film and TV industry, but it’s the case everywhere.
“Comedy is very subjective, and there can be creative differences that come from it.”
They’ve already received glowing feedback from viewers in the US, and Dyer begins talking about the second season as if it’s been green-lit.
“No, no. Sorry. Not yet. I’m manifesting,” she says, laughing. “We would love nothing more than to do another season, so fingers crossed. We’re just so excited for people to see it.”
Colin From Accounts premieres on Binge December 1
Story Credit: news.com.au