‘It’s a story of acceptance that has diversity and family at its core. Multiple generations will enjoy it’

Distributor ITV Studios
Producers Northern Pictures
Length 8 x 30 minutes
Broadcaster ABC (Australia)

Fresh from selling the Katharine Parkinson-starring Paramount+ comedy Spreadsheet into international markets, including Channel 4 in the UK, ITV Studios is serving up another Aussie-flavoured series headed up by some familiar British comic names.

This time it’s Ben Miller and Sally Phillips leading the cast as a couple who write and illustrate children’s books respectively.

On a book tour of Australia, Julian (Miller) and Ingrid’s (Phillips) world is rocked when the titular Austin presents himself as the son Julian never knew he had – before returning with them to Hampstead, where he gets to know the rest of the family.

Miller has a ball playing Julian, a pompous blowhard whose career is on the skids, and whose values are to challenged by this seismic shift to his life and worldview.

The ace up the show’s sleeve, however, is Michael Theo – the neurodivergent breakout star of ABC dating show Love On The Spectrum – here making his acting debut as Austin. Both shows are produced by Australian indie Northern Pictures, which was also behind Spreadsheet.

With Love On The Spectrum making a splash internationally on Netflix, Austin stands to benefit from Theo’s rising profile.

Austin is a collaboration between Miller and British writers Lloyd Woolf and Joe Tucker, who previously worked with Phillips on Sky comedy Parents. The duo’s other credits include BBC comedies Black Ops and Witless, Sky’s Click And Collect and Comedy Central’s Big Bad World. They’ve also written for BBC3’s Young Offenders.

The duo worked closely and meticulously with Theo to build an authentic character and story arc, which moves between the UK and Australia. Look out for another striking piece of British casting: Billie Piper, who pops up as herself in one episode.

The project was on ITV Studios’ radar even before ABC gave it the greenlight, and ITVS vice-president of global content Robert Samuelson says the unique combination of known comic and reality talent, and the universal subject matter, made it instantly appealing.

“It’s a story of acceptance that has diversity and family at its core, and it feels like multiple generations will enjoy it,” he says. “We felt positive about rolling up our sleeves for the long term on this one. It’s refreshing to have a neurodivergent protagonist, and it approaches serious issues but is, above all, warm, funny and ultimately optimistic. It embraces an incredibly modern and interesting family dynamic.”

Tone wise, Samuelson says to expect something akin to Apple TV+ comedies like Ted Lasso, Trying and Shrinking. “It’s colourfully saturated with lovely music, and while light-hearted, it goes a little broader in its genre range,” he says, promising: “It will make you cry and think, as well as laugh out loud.”

With no finished episodes yet available, ITV Studios is offering a first look of the eight-part series at the London TV Screenings, ahead of its debut on ABC later this year.