Felicity Ward

Felicity Ward

In a reversal of the normal order, Australian comic Felicity Ward came to stand-up after having appeared in a TV sketch show, Channel Ten’s The Ronnie Johns Half Hour, where in 2005 and 2006 she played six-year-old Poppy, German nihilist Gretchen and lawn bowls instructor Heidi.

After the show finished, she worked with her co-star from the show, Heath Franklin, when he performed in character as tough jailbird Chopper. And at the 2008 Melbourne Fringe she performed her debut full-length solo show, Felicity Ward's Ugly as A Child Variety Show, winning the festival’s best newcomer title. It was also nominated for best newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival the next year.

She had further award success with her 2012 show The Hedgehog Dilemma, nominated for best show at the Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne comedy festival, and winning her best Australian act at the Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals.

Ward now divides her time between London and Australia. In 2018 she was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award.

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© Philip Gatward

Felicity Ward becomes the first female 'David Brent'

Comic to star in Australian remake of The Office

Stand-up Felicity Ward is to become the first female David Brent in an Australian remake of The Office.

The largely British-based comic will play Hannah Howard, the managing director of packaging company Flinley Craddick in the new Amazon adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s BBC comedy.

Fellow comedian Steen Raskopoulos also has a role in the new show, which will be released globally – except in the US – next year.

Gervais said: ‘I’m very excited about Australia remaking my little show from the turn of the century. Office politics have changed a bit in 20 years, so can’t wait to see how they navigate a modern-day David Brent.’

Gervais as David Brent in The Office

The premise of the new version is that head office tells Howard  her branch has to close, and everyone must work from home. So  she goes into survival mode, ‘making promises she can’t keep in order to keep her "work family" together’.

'The staff of Flinley Craddick indulge her and must endure Hannah’s outlandish plots as they work toward the impossible targets that have been set for them,' the promotional blurb says.

Work on the eight-part series will start in Sydney next month.

It is the 15th remake of the show since it launched on BBC Two in 2001. Local versions have been made in nations such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany and, of course, the US where the show ran on NBC for nine season

Kylie Washington, creative director at programme-makers BBC Studios ANZ, said: ‘The Office has connected with audiences around the world because everyone recognises their own David Brent, and now it’s Australia’s turn.

‘We figured the world is ready for a lovable, flawed, lady boss, ruling over her packaging empire in The Office Australia.'

Sarah Christie, senior development executive at Prime Video Australia, added: 'It is an honour to continue the international comedy legacy of The Office locally while introducing new, quintessentially Australian characters. We can’t wait for audiences to meet Hannah Howard, the first female boss The Office format has explored.'

And Sophia Zachariou of co-producers Bunya Entertainment, added: 'To me, Wernham Hogg’s David Brent was a leading light in comedy. The Office UK made the mockumentary form available to a wide audience, and that was its sheer brilliance.

'I can only hope that global audiences find our Aussie take on The Office as funny, self-deprecating, and believable as those that have gone before it.'

The cast also includes Edith Poor, Shari Sebbens, Josh Thomson, Pallavi Sharda, Susan Lung Young,  Raj Labade, Lucy Schmit, and Firass Dirani.

Ward came to prominence on Australian sketch show The Ronnie Johns Half Hour before becoming a stand-up. Her other acting credits include Aussie series Wakefield, Ronny Chieng: International Student, Josh and The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk, 

The Office Australia production credits

Made by: BBC Studios, Bunya Entertainment and Amazon Studios.
Head writer: Julie De Fina
Executive producers: Julie De Fina, Jackie van Beek and Kylie Washington
Lead producers: Sophia Zachariou, Linda Micsko and Greet Simpkin
Directors: Jackie van Beek, Christiaan Van Vuuren, Jesse Griffin

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Published: 31 May 2023


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