We’re talking Colin From Accounts, a show about a couple brought together thanks to a tipsy nipple flash and an injured dog, so it’s only right that Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall’s own beloved and very cute pet makes an appearance during our interview.
The rescue chihuahua-mix that jumps on to the sofa behind the real-life couple and co-stars is Wally, the dog they fostered that gave their hit show its name. Sadly, they weren’t able to keep the real Colin.
“Oh my God, this is Wally Man,” says Dyer as he snuggles up, unwittingly interrupting the conversation. “He’s our babe.”
“We fostered a dog before we got Wally,” says Brammall. “He had some sh*tty name so we renamed him Colin From Accounts, in much the same way we wrote it in the show.”
“It was almost verbatim,” says Dyer. “Colin from accounts payable, working on a big merger. That was our joke. I ended up not being capable enough to foster that dog. He had many, many issues and he tried to bite me many times. I was like, well, see you later Colin. But that name stuck.”
Colin From Accounts is the hit Australian comedy you’ve either already binge-watched and recommended to everyone you know, or have been left curious about after seeing endless mentions on social media. Colin is a dog, left disabled and in need of expensive veterinary care after Dyer’s character Ashley, 29, flashes 40-something Gordon (Brammall) in a moment of madness, causing him to crash his car. It’s the set-up for the funniest and warmest new TV comedy released in a long time.
The series launched in the UK with little fanfare in April, but quickly became a word-of-mouth smash that now counts stars including Harry Potter’s Imelda Staunton and Jason Isaacs, and David Tennant among its fans. We know this because Dyer and Brammall were invited to present a prize at the BAFTA TV Awards in May.
“We thought we’d be a bit ‘shags on a rock’ at the BAFTAs,” says Brammall. “We were so excited [but] we were like, who’s really going to know us?” (Shag, for anyone heading for Google, like me, is another word for cormorant, and the phrase is Australian slang for being out on your own).
Who would know the Colin From Accounts couple at the BAFTAs? Lots of British celebs, as it turns out.
“We’re BFFs with Imelda, David Tennant, Jason Isaacs,” Brammall jokes. “And Sharon Horgan,” Dyer interrupts. “I went up to her and said hi because I’m a huge fan, but – very clear she had not seen the show.” She laughs. “And that’s absolutely fine… I’ll give her a little longer.”
Choosing the perfect Colin
Dyer and Brammall, who now live in LA with Wally and their adopted daughter, who was born in 2021, are the creators of the show as well as starring in it – as student doctor Ashley and microbrewery owner Gordon. To find their Colin, they hired a TV and film animal trainer who presented them with a booklet of available dogs. They chose Zac and his stand-in lookalike Buster for back-up, “because they had the most kind of ‘every dog’ look”, they say.
“There were fancier looking dogs – French bulldogs, dachshunds, bigger dogs – but these two had very human eyes and a scruffiness we liked.” They fell in love, “but also didn’t want to be too unfaithful” to Wally. Walter Mary Brammall is his full name, they clarify. “He only wears bow ties on walks because you never know who you’re going to run into in Hollywood.”
Interviewing Dyer and Brammall is not like interviewing typical TV co-stars, which, given they’re married, isn’t really surprising. They’re off-screen rapport is just as natural as the chemistry you see in the show; they finish each other’s sentences and descend into in-joke territory, but strike a good balance between affection and mickey-taking and making you feel part of the fun. They’re the kind of couple you’d like to be mates with.
They are still waiting for the show, their “love letter to Australia”, to be released in the US, but have been amazed to witness the response from the UK.
“The show went great in Australia, like, we were blown away,” says Brammall. “The Australian response was huge, but then it went to another level with you guys.” He puts the UK’s embracing of the series down to a similar sense of humour. “We share that same sense of embarrassment.”
“We love a bit of awkwardness,” says Dyer. “And being crass – we don’t mind a bit of crassness.” In the first episode, Ashley goes to the toilet in Gordon’s apartment only to discover it won’t flush – so scoops out the contents and throws it out of the window. Later, Gordon cleans up the mess outside, assuming Colin is the culprit.
“Some responses have been like, okay, we don’t need a female character showing a boob and doing a poo,” says Brammall, although Dyer says this reaction is rare.
They also embrace the silly: “Yvette the vet” who looks after Colin, for example, and Ashley discovering Gordon’s full name: Gordon Crapp.
“I think we sort of get people in with the comedy staples – your poos and wees – and then we have some heart and some good stories,” Brammall continues. “Yeah, like: come for the poo, stay for the heart,” deadpans Dyer.
‘I was never sure if we were walking a line that was creepy’
Real-life couples don’t always make great on-screen couples. But as Colin was about creating something together, rather than working on someone else’s project, there was no pressure. “This idea made us laugh,” Brammall says, “but no one was waiting for this script.” Dyer decided to have a go at writing a first episode; he read it and thought: “This is the best.” They then alternated episodes between them.
“Because he’s the male voice that I know so well and he’s the funniest person I know, I was like, I’m just going to use his voice in my head for Gordon, and I’ll use my own voice,” says Dyer. Like their characters, there is an age-difference in real-life; Brammall is “40-something” and Dyer “30-something”, she replies when I ask.
They borrowed and embellished funny stories from people they know – such as sleep-weeing in a sock drawer – but also invented a lot of it. Ashley’s flashing, for example, was “pure fiction”, says Brammall.
“But the thing that is real is the 12-year age gap, pretty much, and we did want to exploit that because when we got together, I was just never sure if we were walking a line that was creepy or not,” says Dyer. “Our friends were all so lovely, they’d never tell us if it was. “Well, rather than shy away from it, let’s f****** write about it. We just wanted to make it funny and not an issue because it’s 12 years, but he’s really immature.”
With perfect timing, Brammall interjects: “No, you are.”
‘I couldn’t have a nipple that wasn’t up to scratch’
The flashing scene was filmed on a street corner in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills at school pick-up time. “There were kids walking around,” says Dyer with mock horror. “We needed a full day because there were so many things we wanted to get right, including hitting the dog, but the nipple flash I just pretended [during rehearsals] until we had like our hero shots, because I wasn’t just going to whip it out for 12 hours.”
Dyer was asked if she wanted a body double. “I thought, nah… because I’d have to ensure that the nipple was as good or better than mine.”
“Hey, not possible,” Brammall interrupts.
“Thank you,” Dyer replies. “I couldn’t have a nipple out there with my name on it that wasn’t up to scratch. But it’s funny, the on-set nurse was very, very sweet and concerned about my concern that my nipple would look a little… sleepy.” She explains, with actions. “I didn’t want it to be like, meh. So she was suggesting we get an ice cube or anything like, just to make it go, ‘hey, I’m on camera!’ But we didn’t need it, it showed up.”
Series two and spin-offs
After a cliff-hanger ending involving Colin, what fans mostly want to know now is: when do we get the second series?
It’s in the works, they say, but there’s no official commission yet. “We’re quietly confident,” says Brammall. “We just haven’t had the official green light. But it’s fine, we’re not in a rush.”
“We’ve got two white boards off-camera right now with all the characters, all the ideas,” says Dyer. “We had to put pens down though, because of the WGA strike in the US. Also, there’s hoops to jump through to get a second season. So we just have to press pause for a minute.”
They’re not giving anything away about what the future holds in store for Gordon, Ashley and Colin. But whatever they write, there is a chance that life could imitate art.
Dyer reminds me that Gordon underwent a flexible cystoscopy in the first series. “Which is a camera up his d*ck,” she helpfully explains. “And recently Patty’s doctor in real life suggested he get one of those. So Patty thinks that whatever he writes now for Gordon will happen in real life. Instead of the other way around. So Patty thinks he needs to write…”
“Some sort of sex party…” he interrupts.
“Yeah, some sort of orgy with Beyonce. And then it’ll come true.”
Fortunately, the couple “got such a kick out of making stuff together” that they’re keen to keep going.
“Karen From Marketing,” jokes Brammall. “There’s a whole universe there.”
“Yes! And she’s a cat,” Dyer adds. “Dwayne From HR! And he’s a rescue squirrel.”
“The Colin multiverse,” Brammall concludes.
You heard it here first.
Colin From Accounts is available to watch on BBC iPlayer