BackBerner was a satirical comedy on (Australian) ABC, from 1999 to 2002. BackBerner is named after the creator Peter Berner, who also writes and co-presents the show with Louise Siversen. The show is mostly pre-recorded infront of a live audience, supplemented by some other outside recordings.

BackBerner failed to garner too much attention. Perhaps this was because most of the material was political and rather topical instead of simple toilet humour and the like. That did have advantages however. The government-funded ABC has been seen by many commercial TV execs as a kind of R&D department - where new shows (particularly comedies) can be created and tested at the tax-payers' cost. The popular ones can then be bought by a commercial broadcaster at bargain prices after a few years, and with an established audience. GNW is a prime example of this.

But back to BackBerner. BackBerner had a simple format made of short segments, switching between Peter and Louise.

  1. Peters' short monologues.
    Peter does a number of short pieces on the set in front of the audience (either standing, or sitting behind his desk-thing) and perhaps one or two recorded outside.
  2. Louises' interviews.
    Louise presents a short introduction and then performs scripted faux-interviews, with interviewees shown on four screens in front of her. The interviewees often play the parts of important (but not well known) people, such as spokes-people or ambassadors. Impersonation is not the goal of thess segments and publicly-known people are rarely portrayed. This of course requires a large pool of actors to be rotated in order to keep the faces from getting too repetitive. While they have a few regular characters (like Dr Dennis), they seem to have about one or two dozen actors that they use on a regular basis.
  3. Kym Gyngells' take on a recent topic. Kym is a veteran of Australian TV comedy and his recorded pieces are hard-hitting, deadpan,and bloody funny. He's able to take a recent (serious) topic in the news, distill it down to its essence, and present it as a short insightful piece.
  4. Dexter Pinion (Or is it Dext Opinion?)
    Dext/Dexter is a character that Peter regularly presents, for a spite filled rant against some topic. Catch-phrases included "oh that's right tree huggers!", and signs off with "...at the A-B-friggin'-C!".
    (On a related note, the actor that plays Dext was seen in early 2002 on one of the Telstra ads with the CG numbers running around).
    nerd98 offers Dext Opinion should be Dexter Pinion (Dexter = right (Lat.); he usually spits out right-winged opinions)

One of the things that gives BackBerner a unique feel is the use of the start of TISMs' track The thunderbirds are coming out for the theme and the short breaks.


Update: After three years and 135 episodes, the last Backberner was shown on the 14th of November 2002. For most of this year Peter Berner has been co-hosting the Triple M morning show ("The shoooooowww") along with Mikey Robins and Amanda Keller. It's unknown what influence this might have had on the ending of BackBerner.

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