Michala Banas, Benson Jack Anthony and Duncan Fellows wrestle with ‘Fam Time’

Michala Banas and Benson Jack Anthony.

A dysfunctional blended family who are addicted to their screens is at the heart of Fam Time, Seven Studios’ narrative comedy which is shooting in Sydney.

Hayden Guppy is directing the 6 X 30′ series created by Michael Horrocks, who joined Seven Studios a year ago as executive producer, comedy, with the remit to drive the production division’s expansion into comedy.

It’s the Seven Network’s first narrative comedy in more than 20 years since Bullpitt!, which starred Ross Higgins as Ted Bullpitt, reprising the character he played in the 1980s sitcom Kingswood Country.

Scripted by Erica Harrison and Jack Yabsley, Fam Time stars Michala Banas (Bad Mothers, Winners & Losers, Upper Middle Bogan) as the family matriarch Belinda Box. She runs a blog which chronicles her daily adventures as a modern mum with a busy blended family in the digital age.

Duncan Fellows (The Letdown, Laid) is her second husband John, aka ‘Handy Andy’, an ordinary dad who prefers tinkering to Tweeting.

Benson Jack Anthony (800 Words, High Life) is her son Rylan, who spends a lot of time in his room looking for romance on a new dating app.

Completing the Box family are Karina Banno (Reckoning, The Letdown, Friday on My Mind) as Belinda’s step-daughter Tahnee, who freaks out when she unwittingly discovers internet fame; Chloe De Los Santos (Tidelands, Jade of Death) as her adopted half-Filipino daughter Cherry, a sassy online gaming whiz; and Rhonda Burchmore (Kath & Kim, Love Child) as grandma Viv, a cougar and ravenous online dater better known as ‘Foxy Box.’

Adding to the gallery of misfits, Tainui Tukiwaho (Step Dave, Tatau, The Almighty Johnsons) is Polynesian Bill Whata (pronounced Fa-ta), who stumbles into the family’s lives as Australia’s friendliest and third most affordable handyman.

Horrocks, who is the executive producer, tells IF he had the idea of a comedy about a dysfunctional family in a digital world before he joined Seven, observing: “That’s not something that had been explored in Australia before.”

He reached out to relatively new writers Harrison (whose credits include Grace: A Storytelling Company’s Beat Bugs and Motown Magic) and Yabsley because he wanted fresh voices and because the pool of narrative comedy writers is not deep, beyond those who are creating their own shows.

Guppy (Get Krack!n, Orange is the New Brown) plus supervising producer Linda Ujuk and series producer Muffy Potter helped develop the project creatively. Late last year they did screen and casting tests as a mini-pilot. The cast was assembled with the help of casting director Amanda Mitchell. The line producer is Tiare Tomaszewski.

A big fan of Banas, Horrocks says: “She has a great sense of comic timing, she is warm and funny, she works so hard and she and Duncan are terrific together.”

Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross says: “Fam Time is a fresh comedy format celebrating and skewering the family idiosyncrasies we all love to hate. Its contemporary delivery, pace and irreverent humour will be a hit with our audience.”

Horrocks adds: “The show is very relatable. It is warm-hearted, it feels fresh and is unpredictable: I think it will surprise audiences.”

He collaborated with John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver, aka Roy and HG, on their 2JJJ radio show This Sporting Life and he co-created Chris Lilley’s first comedy series Big Bite for Seven in 2003-2004.

Subsequently he worked as an executive producer at Cornerbox Productions, a development producer at Endemol Shine Australia and an EP at Nine Entertainment.

The exec is developing a raft of projects for Seven and 7mate and hopes to reveal more commissions soon.