September 21, 2007

Chris Lilley in deep water, again (yawn)

So, the ABC and Chris Lilley (creator, writer and star of Summer Heights High) have to appolise because a joke on their show offended the parents of a girl who died from a drug overdose? A joke that was written and filmed before the girl overdosed? From NineMSN:

The ABC has been forced to make an embarrassing apology to the family of Annabel Catt — the woman who died from an drug overdose last year — after it aired a comedy with a similar storyline and character.

Comedian Chris Lilley's popular Summer Heights High this week featured a schoolgirl named Annabel who died of a drug overdose.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott today apologised to the Catt family, saying the blunder was an "unfortunate coincidence" and not meant to make reference to real-life tragedy in any way.

"We apologise that this has caused further distress to the family," Mr Scott said in a statement.

"In hindsight, we feel we should have alerted the Catt family to the situation in advance of the broadcast."

Annabel Catt died in February after she took a lethal dose of paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) at a music festival on the Gold Coast.

In an episode Summer Heights High screened on Wednesday night, a character named Annabel Dickson dies of an ecstasy overdose.

She is later referred to as a "slut" by a drama teacher Greg Gregson, played by Lilley.

Mr Scott said the decision to use the name 'Annabel' was made some time before the Catt tragedy occurred.

"Eleven days after the production had been completed Annabel Catt's tragic death occurred on February 18," he said.

Mr Scott has refused to pull the remaining episodes of Summer Heights High despite continuing references to the character.

Although I'm curious as to when this girl died. Was it "last year" or "February 18"? Because I doubt filming of the series has been finished since February 2006! I mean, it's sad for the family that this coincidence brings up memories, but jesus christ, if every network had to apologise to families for similaties in storylines then 90% of drama series on right now would be having to do it. It's why they have that disclaimer at the end. Ugh. If Lilley had named the character "Rebecca" I sure we'd have another family coming out of the woodworks saying the same thing.

By the way, Summer Heights High is amazing and brilliant (and most definitely not, to quote Mr G, a "bummer heights high").

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