All Star secrets revealed

Doug Anthonys share anecdotes

Cult Australian comedy heroes The Doug Anthony All-Stars reunited today, almost 20 years after they disbanded.

Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson and Richard Fidler shared tales of the making of their Nineties sci-fi sitcom/sketch show Daas Kapital, at an event to promote its release on DVD.

Here are some of their tales:

  • The team recorded a new song for the DVD, Saturday’s The Day For Leaving, as they needed to replace the Velvet Underground number Sunday Morning, which originally featured in the TV series. ‘We weren’t allowed to put it on the DVD for contractual reasons,’ McDermott said. ‘And because we never paid to use it in the first place.’

  • McDermott recalled an horrific incident in shooting a scene showing a primary school overrun by giant cockroaches. A model building had been made, put in a fishtank for filming, and a couple of jars of roaches procured. But as they first jar was emptied out, the insects just scarpered, leaving a few dozen burly crew scurrying around the set, trying to round them up. ‘How can we get them to stay?’ McDermott recalls the team asking. ‘Someone thought we could use spray adhesive and they’ll stay – or at least be slowed down a bit.’ So the model was sprayed and the second jar emptied. ‘Now, cockroaches are tenacious creatures,’ McDermott recalled. ‘The refused to be stuck down and tore themselves out of their own exoskeletons in the most horrific displays, pulling their limbs off. It was the most grotesque thing you have ever seen.’ Then Ferguson piped up: ‘Buy the DVD and you can see this for yourself!’

  • ‘We used to have a lot of pornography on the tour van,’ McDermott revealed. ‘We used to have different tastes... let’s just say we were eclectic. And when we’d have to hand the van back from where we’d hired it, we would pretend to be a Christian outreach group – then just leave them to find sone of the most grotesque pornography in the world.’ He also told of how Ferguson used to cut out extreme close-ups from the magazines, and hand them, folded up, to female audience members during the show, with phrases like ‘Thanks for coming!’ written on them in marker pen – just to hear the gasps around the auditorium as the ‘private’ messages were opened up.

  • Fidler is married to Khym Lam, who he met on the set of the show, in which she played the newsreader and, occasionally, other glamorous roles. One scene from the series, shot before they hooked up, has Lam as a mermaid trying to seduce Fidler, telling him that the ‘animalistic’ McDermott is ‘the one you want to do it to, Tim is the one you think of while you’re doing it, but you’re the one you want to marry.’ How prescient...

  • Before McDermott joined the group there was Robert Piper, described by Ferguson as ‘the Pete Best of the Doug Anthony All Stars’. But he left the troupe before they became famous to study mime in Paris ‘...and we thought that was cool!’ He is now a UN humanitarian coordinator in Senegal, having previously been President Clinton’s chief of staff for the international tsunami recovery effort, and involved in peacekeeping and development work in such paces as Thailand, Cambodia and Fiji. Shows where mime can get you...

  • The group caused a stir when played an open-air gig at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, for disrespecting the official mascot, a cartoon dog called Cobi. McDermott recalls them unveiling their backdrop to around 5,000 people: ‘It was Cobi hanging by the neck, crosses for eyes, and the slogan “Cobi Is Dead”. Oh yes, and he had a massive erection and shit dripping off him. The mums there were were hiding their children’s faces’. ‘We were proud to represent Australia,’ Ferguson added.

  • McDermott ended up getting burned at a live show in Melbourne. For a pyrotechnic opening, a fireball was to be unleashed when the last member of team, Fidler, took to the stage. But in a bit of backstage confusion, Fidler went on second; the technician took that as his cue, and unleashed the flame right at McDermott. The show started with Fidler asking: ‘Can you smell that? It smells like burnt hair...’

  • When the trio announced they were going to sing at the end of this reunion show, the audience started chanting: ‘All Stars! All Stars!’. ‘I thought you started shouting out, “Aresholes”,’ McDermott said. ‘Very rude.’
The former buskers, named after a former right-wing Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, hit the big time after storming the Edinburgh Fringe in 1987, but broke up in 1994. Last year, Ferguson revealed the reason for the split was that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – although he had previously kept his condition a secret. The trio previously reunited in 2003 for a benefit concert, but always ruled out the suggestion of a comeback tour. Here’s a song from the Daas Kapital, Catholic Girls on LSD:

Published: 13 Apr 2013

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