Supernova. Paul Hamilton (Rob Brydon). Copyright: Hartswood Films Ltd.

Supernova

BBC Two sitcom. 12 episodes (2 series), 2005 - 2006. Stars Rob Brydon, Hollie Andrew, Kat Stewart, Tim Draxl, Damion Hunter, Peter Kowitz, Kris McQuade and Morgan O'Neill.

About Supernova

Supernova saw director Matt Lipsey and star Rob Brydon working together again after their successful collaboration on Human Remains. Brydon was hired for the central role of Dr. Paul Hamilton, and this immediately proved challenging (he later conceded that he believed that David Mitchell would have been more suited to the part). Brydon had built his career on appearing in subtle, nuanced comedies and faced the problem of knowing where to pitch his performance in a much broader sitcom. He also struggled to adapt to the rigours of filming multi-take after his experiences of improvising in his other work.

For Lipsey the series brought its own difficulties. Accustomed to working with his own team, the director instead was forced to employ an Australian crew. The support cast were also made up of entirely local actors and this meant that extensive casting was required prior to the series and the sitation was not helped when the actress originally hired to play the part of Rachel left to film an American pilot episode. The result of all of these efforts was that several of the hired actors had no real experience of appearing in comedies.

In total, the director spent six months in Australia working on the first series although filming was crammed into a busy nine weeks. This meant a rushed shooting schedule for the cast and crew and issues such as the extreme heat and local wildlife were further complications.

When the series was first broadcast in the UK it was met with an underwhelming response. Critics dismissed the show as being old-fashioned and average at best and viewing figures were similarly unimpressive. The show was greeted very differently in Australia however, with it being nominated for Best Television Series at the Australian Film Institute Awards and Kris McQuade nominated for Best Performance in Television Comedy.

A second series followed in 2006 with the only major difference coming in the director's chair as Lipsey was replaced by Sandy Johnson. The cast reprised their roles and this time, due to the experience of working on the first series, the production was smoother. Shooting also took place during a cooler time of the year meaning that high temperatures were less of an issue.

Despite this, the second group of episodes were received in a very similar fashion to the first. Supernova still failed to distinguish itself in terms of ratings or critical acclaim within the UK but fared better in Australia. The BBC subsequently lost faith in the series and did not commission a third.