ABC comedy puts disability “in the mainstream”

Angus Thompson and Nina Oyama star in The Angus Project. Photo: Lola Design.
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A new pilot depicts the lengths to which a passionate, aspiring reporter will travel to get a byline, regardless of adversity. Edwina Williams reports

Writing a front-page story is every young journalist’s dream. A new ABC pilot depicts the lengths to which a passionate, aspiring reporter will travel to get a byline, regardless of adversity.

Ground-breaking comedy, The Angus Project, is set to get diversity and disability into the mainstream when it airs on ABC TV in December.

Starring Angus Thompson – a breakout performer with cerebral palsy – and Nina Oyama (UtopiaTonightly with Tom Ballard), the show follows Angus, an aspiring sports journalist at shonky regional paper, The Bathurst Gazette, and his hopeless carer, Nina.

Presented by ABC iView and Screen Australia, and created by mates, Thompson and Oyama, the pilot has been commissioned as a result of the ABC’s 2017 ‘Fresh Blood initiative’.

Oyama’s role behind the camera also extends to writing, producing and directing. She says The Angus Project is “inspired” by her “real relationship” with Thompson, which began during their time at university in Bathurst.

“We initially made it because we were sick of the sanitised, inspirational version of disability that is often portrayed in mainstream media,” Oyama says.

“It’s the first Australian TV show to have a lead actor with cerebral palsy. We wanted to show the way Angus lived and make him the main character of his own story. It’s very funny.”

Their aim is to put “disability-identifying people on screen in a way that the Australian public has never seen before”.

Within the 28-minute pilot, Angus must get an interview with gold medal winning Paralympian, Wayne “Wizza” Miller (Adam Bowes – Hacksaw Ridge, Winchester), to secure his first front page story. However, in exchange for the interview, Miller has some bizarre demands, sending Angus and Nina around town and into the depths of rural Australia.

Meanwhile, assisted by Kane – their eccentric drug dealer – Angus and Nina also try to avoid their responsibilities and undermine mean disability worker, Kath.

Pitched at 16 to 30-year olds, audiences will recognize Kane and Kath, as ABC darlings, Sammy J (Playground PoliticsSammy J and Randy in Ricketts Lane) and Veronica Milsom (Mad As Hell, Triple J).

Working Dog’s Rob Sitch, MICF Barry Award Winner, Sam Campbell, and Craig Anderson also feature, with script supervision by Greg Larsen (Get Krack!n, The Edge of the Bush).

“We are incredibly grateful to the amazing comedians that have come along on this wild ride,” Oyama says.

Catch The Angus Project on ABC iView from Tuesday November 20 or live on ABC TV on Tuesday December 4 at 9:30PM. The trailer is available at facebook.com/theangusproject. The original Fresh Blood web series is available on iView.