Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall reflect on their most personal project to date

‘We did this together’
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When the world came to a grinding halt in the global pandemic of 2021, Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall were the busiest they’ve ever been. Not only did the couple produce the award-winning comedy Colin From Accounts, but they became parents for the first time. Balancing two worlds – parenting and producing their own series – in an unprecedented time was an understandable “blur”, but it might also be the most rewarding period of their lives.

Two years on, the stars are reaping the rewards. Colin From Accounts has won the TV WEEK Logie Award For Most Outstanding Comedy Series, while both Harriet and Patrick have been awarded Most Outstanding Actress and Most Outstanding Actor.

Harriet conjured up the idea during COVID lockdown.

(Image: Getty)

“It’s incredibly special and beyond anything we had hoped,” Patrick, 47, says of the recognition. “It’s amazing that people are resonating with this in Australia and around the world.”

Harriet, who conjured up the idea during COVID lockdown in Los Angeles, says she never expected it to go beyond the four walls of their home. It was a diversion, a way to kill time between calls to family and friends – most of whom had returned to Australia before international borders shut.

“I was happy for the script to be a hobby and get us through the pandemic in LA and simply be a writing exercise,” Harriet, 34, tells TV WEEK. “But our team really championed it. Australian TV is having a great moment in comedy and we’re so proud to be part of it.”

Having both starred in a variety of Australian productions, including their first collaboration in Stan’s No Activity, Harriet and Patrick knew what they had was different. Colin From Accounts is a refreshing and realistic examination of romance in the modern age. They play Ash and Gordon, whose brief encounter turns into a blossoming romance while they care for an injured and overly dependent dog. They share the vet’s bill and, eventually, much more.

“There was nothing else like this in Australia.”

(Image: Getty)

“We’ve both starred in buddy comedies, but not so much romantic ones,” Harriet says of their past roles. “There was nothing else like this in Australia.”

Patrick adds there’s no gender bias in terms of viewing pleasure, which could attribute to its success around the globe. Colin From Accounts has already been picked up in the UK and other countries, while a US series is currently in discussion.

“Men and women can watch it and enjoy it equally,” he says. “I think because we’re actors by trade, we were advocating for our own characters. They are very evenly played.”

In Patrick’s words, they always planned to put the “com before the rom”, causing Harriet to chuckle loudly, but they inadvertently switched from time to time.

“It has a balance of high and low comedy.”

(Image: Getty)

“It has a balance of high and low comedy,” he says. “After a few episodes, you start to care about these characters. We always made sure it was funny, but you never know what’s going to work.”

Harriet adds there was no crystal ball to hint as to how Colin From Accounts would fare.

“We stayed in the edit room until it was locked [completed], then walked away, looked at each other and said, ‘Who knows?'” she says. “We were relieved to see we had chemistry [on screen]. We have familiarity being married, but you still don’t know [how it will look on TV].”

Viewers might assume the story reflects their own lives, but the couple say it’s all fiction. The underlying benefit, however, is a natural chemistry and understanding of the material that they built together. But that’s not to say working together didn’t test their relationship.

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“We let hundreds of people into our marriage,” Harriet jokes of the cast and crew, as Patrick adds: “They know more than they ever wanted!” [Laughs]

From writing, editing, producing, and starring in the show – all while raising their daughter Joni – the couple rarely had a moment apart. They even had to battle torrential rain when they returned to Australia to film.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person,” Harriet says. “We stepped up to a whole new level, because we couldn’t sit back with this: you had to write, edit, parent and be a partner – it was draining, but so rewarding.

“Normally, I’d be the one to say, ‘I can’t talk about this anymore’ and Paddy would make a note and we’d take a break. We needed boundaries, but we also didn’t have time for them. We had eight episodes to do in just under eight weeks. There was no off switch.”

The couple rarely had a moment apart.

(Image: Getty)

Baby Joni was a blessing to the pair, who managed to find their groove with the help of “an amazing nanny” and at very fortunate times, uninterrupted sleep.

“You kind of get amnesia with parenting in that you do something and then forget,” Patrick says. “It was a blur, but we have this document of a TV show that proves we did something.”

“Plus, it’s nice to know we still like each other [at the end of it],” Harriet adds with a laugh. “If we saw a newborn baby now, we wouldn’t know what to do. But in 2021, we were all over it.”

With a second season of Colin From Accounts on the horizon – “we’re quietly confident but haven’t been given the green light,” Harriet says – the family are likely to be back in Australia for a bit longer. It may become permanent one day. For now, this new wave of success could send them anywhere.

“It’s a weird one in that the thing that could propel us the most overseas was made back home,” Patrick says. “But it just shows that Australia is where our heart is.”

“We just wanted to make people smile and laugh,” Harriet says of the show. “Being able to do that with your best friend and partner is incredibly special. We feel really lucky.”

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