TV & Film

Colin From Accounts: The other little Aussie show taking over the world

A shared sense of humour has seen Aussie comedy couple Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall conquer the world with Colin From Accounts But what does life look like when the cameras go down?

At the start of every week on the Sydney set of Colin from Accounts there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. And it’s not down to the excitement of catching up with colleagues to share any weekend adventures.

“We have Hidden Money Monday, where we take $50 or $100 and hide it somewhere on set,” Harriet Dyer – co-creator and star, alongside husband Patrick Brammall – says of a tradition they began to inject some fun into the start of the week.

“We’ve hidden it in so many nooks and crannies – the brewery, the kitchen at Gordon’s house, under knick-knacks or a pot plant.”

“The crew still have to do their job and not ruin the set,” adds Patrick, who plays Gordon. “But we really do take pains to make sure everybody is having a good time at work.”

This is just one small example of the joviality they bring each day to the Aussie comedy series that is giving Bluey a run for its money when it comes to garnering international fans. When the duo attended the BAFTA Awards in the UK recently, Imelda Staunton, Jason Isaacs and David Tennant were just a few of the famous guests who beelined to them to profess their love for the series, which centres on two flawed yet deeply funny single strangers whose lives become entangled after a car hits a runaway dog.

Patrick Brammell and Harriet Dyer on a couch.
Patrick and Harriet off duty. Source: Binge/Peter Brew-Bevan

The idea for the series was spawned in Los Angeles, where the couple (who met in 2015, went public with their romance two years later and married in 2021) now live. Harriet was in a dry acting patch and bashed out an early script in a matter of days. Patrick was instantly hooked. But when the time came to make the show they were determined to do it Down Under and keep it intrinsically Australian.

“At some point, someone did point out in the script, should we change ‘arvo’ to ‘afternoon’ because Americans don’t understand it?” Harriet recalls. “But we were like, ‘no’. We’ve been watching American stuff for ages, just accepting that it’s snowing on Christmas Day.”

It’s proved a hit selling point, another bonus layer that has endeared the show to overseas audiences. Case in point: The pair were recently guests on a US talk show where they were asked to decode some of the local slang scattered through the script.

“They were like, ‘what’s a ute?’” recalls Harriet.

“Utility vehicle,” Patrick adds helpfully, “a pick-up truck.”

“What’s a ‘bickie’? What does ‘crack on’ mean?” Harriet continues.

But it’s local success that’s given them the greatest pride. That and the fact that they are helping viewers find connection through the shared love of each 23-minute Colin From Accounts episode.

“I will say, it felt a little bit like my career’s birthday when it premiered in Australia,” Harriet says with a smile. “My DMs on Instagram were blowing up with people who love the show, just these nice messages. People who like watching it with their other half or with someone in a new generation, like, ‘I watched this with my daughter’.”

“A lot of people who would usually have trouble agreeing on what to watch would sit down together,” Patrick adds with a nod. “It’s been so well received.”

This could have meant added pressure when it came to trying to recreate the magic with a second season – both on screen and as collaborators. But, as The Weekly chats with the couple over Zoom from their LA home, we’re thrilled to find that their sparkle is as bright as ever.

Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammell on the set of Colin From Accounts

Were there any nerves ahead of season two?

Patrick: In the back of my mind it was a little bit like, ‘getting great compliments is so wonderful, but it’s not great for creating a world’. But when we got back to writing season two we found all that disappeared. We just reconnected with the world of Ashley [Harriet’s character] and Gordon and Colin [the show’s eponymous dog].

Harriet: It helped that we wrote it in America. It wasn’t like we were walking down the street and then people were recognising us. We say to people here [in LA], we’re ‘Australia famous’. We can walk down the street here and it means nothing. We’re in a bubble.

Have you agreed to split duties on set? Are there things you like to leave to your other half?

Harriet: I think Patty’s better at story, whereas I can kind of pump out dialogue. Sometimes I’m good at micro and Patty’s good at macro. In post-production Patty’s a lot more patient. He’s able to watch it 20 times and not start to just want to tear his face off of his bones. Whereas I can be like, “Do I have to watch that woman one more time?!”

Patrick: We tend to gravitate to the things that interest us the most, but we split it pretty much 50/50. In season one, for the most part, it was always the two of us doing it.

Harriet: I didn’t feel confident, in season one, to do anything without Patty basically. But now I’m like, “I’ve got this, you can go.” We rarely disagree over something creatively.

Patrick: We’ve got a really good shorthand.

Harriet: That’s married life for you though.

Spending so much time together at work, how do you keep your home life separate?

Patrick: It’s a tricky balance because, really, it’s out of balance when we’re doing [the show]. You know, we’re doing everything together.

Harriet: And that’s poor hygiene, isn’t it, for a relationship? When it comes to work I will say we’re very respectful of each other because there’s no point in getting mad at each other at work if it’s going to make home horrible. You can’t be just a husband and wife on set, you’ve got to be professional. And largely we were. I think it’s odd for anyone to be like, “Oh, Mum and Dad are fighting”. The crew started to feel like family.

Patrick: Family that we pay to be there.

Harriet: But the short answer is there wasn’t an off switch.

Patrick: We had to zoom out to get a year’s worth of balance. So, we had six months really full-on making the show and now we need to balance it out as a family.

Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammell on their wedding day.

You’d just welcomed your daughter Joni when you started filming season one. How did you navigate having a newborn and a new show?

Harriet: We’re both there or we’re both not there. That was the trickiest part. It’s not like Patty could do the mornings and I could do the nights. Our daughter sees us both walk in and both walk out – they are the hours that the job needs us. We have an amazing nanny and she also did daycare this time so that Joni had a good community. It’s so nice now that [filming has wrapped]. We are walking her to daycare every morning and picking her up every afternoon. The two of us.

Patrick: It’s nice to get back into a domestic routine.

She’s two and a half now. What is she like in these toddler years?

Harriet: She is really funny. I’ve realised – and it’s a bit spooky – she’s emulating everything I do. Even the intonation with which I say something. So, I’ve got to watch myself a bit more. She was a bit of a dummy addict, and we’ve just taken it away. Literally the first weekend without the dummy, she talked to me so much she was losing her voice.

Patrick: I think she’s, from all reports, a pretty typical two-year-old. She just wants to play all the time. She’s got a great sense of fun and a lot of energy. She keeps us busy.

Harriet: Yeah, she doesn’t sit back much. She’s not one that you can put a two-hour movie on, and she’ll ask to watch it again.

Patrick: When the new half-hour Bluey [in which Patrick voices Uncle Rad] came on, Harri was like, “Look, that’s Daddy, that’s Daddy.” And she doesn’t care, she just walked out.

Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammell with daughter Joni

Have the two of you always been aligned on parenting?

Patrick: It’s just trial and error, isn’t it? No matter how much you prep for being a parent, you’re never going to be equipped really until you do it. It’s like all the worthwhile things in life – there’s never a good time for it and you figure it out as you go. You know, it’s the biggest thing we’ll ever do, being parents.

Harriet: I’ve also learnt that it’s important to take care of each other. Because if you turn on each other in those hard moments, you’ve got no back-up, do you?

How has becoming parents changed you?

Harriet: I’m not a morning person at all – Patty will say that I’m really a bit of a lump in the morning – and he’s noticed Joni just wants to play with me in the morning. We started putting nuts out for squirrels and there’s a bird outside that’s got eggs in its nest. There’s a lot of wildlife stuff that she wants to check off her list early in the morning and when she says, “Mama, let’s go look for the squirrels,” I can’t say no. It’s the only thing that’s ever gotten me out of bed.

Patrick: So impressive. I’m amazed!

Did it show you a side of each other you’d not seen before?

Patrick: We know each other really well and [becoming parents] just highlights what was already there.

Harriet: So, if you already make each other laugh, you’ll make each other laugh more.

Patrick: Also, thank God, we do make each other laugh. It’s a saviour. I’ve always known that. If you can laugh at something, it gives you perspective, it gives you air. We make each other laugh all the time and it’s a lucky thing. So, I haven’t learnt anything new about Harri of importance, but it’s just enhanced everything. We’ve just become closer.

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