‘Colin From Accounts’ Creators on How They Wrote Their Rom-Com Sensation, Those ‘Catastrophe’ Comparisons and Season 2 Plans
At Sunday night’s BAFTA TV Awards in London, the most popular couple in the room won’t actually be British.
Given the U.K. reception to Australian series “Colin From Accounts” — which was acquired by the BBC in one of its smartest deals in years — that honor will likely go to Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall, the real-life partners who created and star in the half-hour rom-com. The couple will be presenting a BAFTA during the ceremony, and afterwards, they’re available for selfies.
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“If we land in the U.K. and people recognize us on the street, that’ll be massive, because it’s never happened to me,” says Dyer. “I’ve lived in L.A. for five years, and I’m on a network television show, and not a single person has gone, ‘Are you from “American Auto?”’ Not one. So I’m pumped. I want to take some pictures with some people.”
Both Brammall and Dyer are known as actors, respectively, for roles in high-profile Aussie shows such as “No Activity” and “The Other Guy” (and Dyer for two seasons of NBC’s “American Auto”), but “Colin From Accounts” is their first major writing credit. The pair, who have an infant daughter, warmly poke fun of themselves and each other as they try to make sense of their good fortune at having written the rare show that is almost instantly liked universally.
In “Colin,” they star as Gordon and Ashley, two singletons with a considerable age gap who meet at a crucial intersection in their lives — literally. When Gordon stops at a light to let Ashley cross, and receives a cheeky flash in return, so stunned is he as he restarts the car that he rolls right over an unassuming Border Terrier (later named Colin From Accounts). The couple rush the stray to the vet, only to be told it has life-altering spine damage. But rather than put down the dog, they decide to share custody. The rest is rom-com history.
The show was commissioned as an original for Binge, a fledgling streamer operated by commercial broadcaster Foxtel. The two-year-old platform quickly gained profile thanks to output deals with the likes of Warner Bros. Discovery, but “Colin,” which launched in December 2022, was its first original drama to break out. The platform went all-in on marketing the show around Christmas — “They put our faces down bridges to aeroplanes,” says Dyer — and it worked.
In the U.K., where “Colin” launched last month, the show’s popularity has hinged less on advertising and more on word-of-mouth. In many ways, the rom-com fills a void left by Channel 4’s hit comedy drama “Catastrophe” from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. Launching in 2015, that series about a transatlantic couple’s hook-up that leads to a pregnancy was a sensation in the U.K. and made household names out of the writers. It later enjoyed the same success Stateside after Prime Video picked it up after two seasons.
While some writers might bristle at such comparisons, Dyer and Brammall aren’t precious. “It’s a dream come true,” he beams, while she quips: “As long as they’re not offended, we’re happy.”
Brammall observes that the similar receptions to both programs could point to an appetite for shows written by its main stars, especially ones that trade in more personal subject matter.
“When you’re writing these sorts of characters for yourself, you can have all sorts of colors that you’re prepared as an actor to then execute. You know — the humiliation stuff and the romantic stuff and the darker stuff,” he says.
The couple also served as producers and sat in on the edit. In fact, apart from directing, they “made every creative decision that could be made on this television show,” says Dyer.
Dyer was first to put pen to paper on “Colin” after moving to Los Angeles. “Patrick was working on ‘No Activity’ and I’d just moved here. And I was used to working so solidly in Sydney between film, TV and theater, and [in L.A.] no one knew who I was.” The actor says she never set out to write a rom-com, per se, but rather a comedy about a relationship.
“The rom-com is such a loaded genre given the success it’s had in film, and particularly American film,” explains Dyer. “And we all grew up watching and loving those. But with this, I wrote the first script, and then Patrick wrote the second, and I wrote the third, and we just built it slowly and it found its genre and tone.”
Brammall adds: “The idea was just an idea and it fit into the romantic comedy world. We both looked at it and thought, ‘Australia hasn’t really done any romcom shows.’ So we felt that just doing one was already a bonus.”
Fans are now keenly anticipating a second season, but they could be in for a wait — “Colin From Accounts,” which is produced by CBS Studios along with Aussie production company Easy Tiger, is among the numerous TV shows in limbo due to the WGA writers strike. (Brammall is a WGA member, but Dyer isn’t — yet.)
“We’re hoping for a pickup for Season 2, and if we were sitting in Sydney we wouldn’t think twice about writing it, but the feeling is very much that, if I ever want to be a WGA member — and I do — don’t open your computer,” says Dyer.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t plenty of ideas swimming around in their heads for Ashley and Gordon’s next chapter, not to mention the U.S. premiere that’s still forthcoming. (An American home hasn’t yet been announced.)
“It’s one of those things that felt like a little bit of a happy accident,” says Dyer of the show’s success.
“Because no one was waiting for this,” adds Brammall. “It’s something we got to do in our house and take our time with it and review it and change it and rewrite each other’s work. So, even before anyone had seen this, we just knew that we were happy with it.”
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