“There’s No Point Launching A Vanilla Show”: Nine Co-Head Of Drama Says Of ‘Habibs’

“There’s No Point Launching A Vanilla Show”: Nine Co-Head Of Drama Says Of ‘Habibs’

Nine’s new show ‘Here Come The Habibs’ kicks off tonight, and while viewer reactions were initially outraged, co-head of drama Andy Ryan said it’s worth the risk.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

It’s no surprise to anybody that social media is a breeding ground for a bit of controversy, and Ryan said the team behind The Habibs expected this when they launched their sneak peeks across TV, digital and social media.

In case you missed some of this, here’s a recap:

“A comedy is always launched into quite a hostile environment,” Ryan told B&T. “It’s really crucial to get it right – we can’t afford to get it wrong.”

“There’s no prizes for being risk averse in drama commissioning, and it’s encumbered upon myself and upon Nine to commission shows that are topical and tell new stories.

“We wanted to branch out with a refreshing new genre of comedy. There’s no point launching a vanilla show.

“The show is called ‘Here Come The Habibs’ not ‘Here Come The Smiths’.”

Ryan told B&T that what sets The Habibs apart from your “run-of-the-mill pitch” was that it was “topical” and an area that “hasn’t been explored in TV yet”.

He also said that when comedians and writers of the show Rob Shehadie and Tahir Bilgic approached Nine with the pitch around 15 months ago, they felt it was the right time to dive in with this “fish out of water situation”.

“Channel Nine hasn’t done a scripted comedy since 2001,” Ryan said. “It’s a risky proposition to commission a comedy and there’s a million reasons to say no.

“But we felt the time was right.

“We are inundated with extremely high quality comedy from the US and UK,” he added, saying Australia was “spoilt” in that regard. “So to launch something like that in Australia we had to make is as good as those shows.”

“We weren’t surprised that there was some controversy,” Ryan added. “But we were taken aback at how judgemental the Twitterati were based on just the previews.”

“People really really wanted to pre-judge the show with no information or knowledge at all.”

And he wasn’t wrong, with social media going hard with its criticisms.

Ryan said only six episodes have been commissioned to start with, in a similar style to comedies in the UK that only kick off with around six to eight episodes.

“I’m too superstitious to predict numbers,” he told B&T. “But the overnight numbers will only be a part of it. We expect to see a big audience on time shift and online through 9Now.”

“We’re getting a sense of the show going big online, with a subset of the audience finding the show through non-traditional means.”

Ryan said he’s confident in how the show will be received, particularly based on the way reviews have “completely turned around” since exclusive screenings have been held in the last week, calling it “funny, relevant and timely”, according to Ryan.

You can catch ‘Here Come The Habibs’ tonight on Nine at 8.30pm and make up your own minds.