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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2005, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Kath and Kim sound out the UK
By Tom Bishop
BBC News entertainment reporter

Kath and Kim
Kim (Gina Riley) moves back in with her mother Kath (Jane Turner)
A divorced mother and her miserable daughter have become the basis of Australia's most successful TV comedy, Kath and Kim, which is making its BBC debut.

The series has taken a string of awards and topped the ratings of Australian channel ABC every year for the past three years.

It has also spawned a flood of bizarre new catchphrases and celebrity cameos from singer Kylie Minogue, actor Geoffrey Rush and actress Rachel Griffiths.

"Our sense of humour is similar to a lot of British humour, so I think British people will get it straight away," says co-writer Jane Turner, who plays Kath.

"We have a double whammy in that British people love to laugh at Australians," says Gina Riley, who plays Kim. "Now they can laugh with us too."

Kim is a go-getter, but only in the sense that she will go and get some more food
Jane Turner
Inspired by 1990s fly-on-the-wall series Sylvania Waters, the series sees self-absorbed Kim move back in with her mother Kath, who was busy enjoying new romance with the local butcher.

As the perky, poodle-permed Kath tries to keep Kim and her "second best friend" Sharon away from her fridge, the show delves into the minutiae of middle-class Melbourne suburbia.

"The characters are all pretty different. Kath is in good shape for a 40-something mum - she's always cleaning and keeps herself 'trim and nice,'" says Turner.

"Kim is also a go-getter, but only in the sense that she will go and get some more food," adds Riley.

As tension builds in the house, the characters mangle their language and stretch their vowels as far as possible, with Kath's regular demand: "Look at moiye! Look at moiye!" often met by Kim's response: "I hayte it."

Kath and Kim cast
Set in Melbourne, the series was inspired by TV show Sylvania Waters
"If nothing else, we have made a lasting contribution to viewers' vocabulary," says Turner, who must now contend with fans shouting "haor yur?" and "hornbag" at her in the street (translated as "how are you?" and "a highly desirable person").

"But there are people in Australia who have always spoken like that," says Riley. "Every day you can hear words being extended or people using malapropisms (wrongly using a word in place of a similar-sounding one).

"I think we've just helped people forget what the real words are. After one episode a lot of people went into bars and asked for glasses of 'cardonnay.'"

Turner and Riley, who also produce the series, developed the characters after meeting at a youth arts centre at the age of 18.

"Gina did a little singing and I did a bit of dancing, so we started working together on sketches," says Turner.

Kath and Kim made their debut on weekly Australian sketch shows Big Girl's Blouse and Something Stupid, before winning their own full series.

Cult status

The show has already attained cult status outside Australia after being previewed in the US and on UK digital channels FTN and Living TV.

"We seem to have attracted a lot of gay fans, which is fantastic because everyone knows the gay community has great taste and a good sense of humour," says Turner.

"Having Kylie on the third series also went down well," says Riley. "She was a fan of the show and was brilliant to work with, getting into character straight away."

We just know the paparazzi are hiding behind bushes waiting to jump out on us at any minute
Gina Riley
Having won numerous awards, including Australia's prestigious Logie for most outstanding comedy programme, Kath and Kim's creators remained tight-lipped on rumours of a movie version.

However, Turner and Riley say they are not daunted by the prospect of becoming the most famous Australians in the UK since Dame Edna Everage.

"We have already been recognised in Selfridges, so we're ready for it," says Riley.

"We can't see them, but we just know the paparazzi are hiding behind bushes waiting to jump out on us at any minute."

Kath and Kim begins on BBC Two at 2200 BST on Thursday 12 May.

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