Musician, writer and comedian Tim Minchin – the creator of Matilda: The Musical – has added a new string to his bow, landing a starring role in his first TV series, Upright, which will begin shooting in South Australia and Western Australia in October.
A co-production between Australia’s Foxtel, Sky UK and production company Lingo Pictures, the series – a buddy road trip comedy starring Minchin and teenager Milly Alcock – was created by Chris Taylor of Australian satirical team The Chaser. It has a writing team that includes Minchin, Taylor and actor/writer Kate Mulvany, and will be directed by Please Like Me’s Matthew Saville.
Upright follows Lucky Flynn (Minchin), a gifted pianist in Sydney who is “broke, distant and damaged” and “whose talent for music is matched only by his talent for self-destruction”. When he learns his mother is dying on the other side of the country – in Minchin’s hometown of Perth – he hires a car to drive the 4,000 kms with his only prized possession: a battered upright piano.
On his way, he runs into a “tough-as-nails teenager” played by Milly Alcock, from Janet King and High Life, “who we soon discover has plenty of scars and secrets of her own”.
Minchin moved back to Australia at the beginning of 2018 following a year in the US that he described as “unbearable” in an interview with the Guardian. He had moved to Los Angeles four years earlier to make a $100m film that was scrapped in March 2017, and a few months later Groundhog Day: The Musical – the follow-up to his smash-hit stage adaptation of Matilda – closed early on Broadway.
Minchin has performed sporadically in Australia since his return, and had a part in the ABC’s comedy series Squinters, but Upright, which he is also executive producing, marks his first major move since returning to home soil.
“From the moment I heard about the idea for Upright, I knew it was the show I’d been waiting to make,” he said of the series. “I like stories that make me laugh and think and cry, I adore the landscapes of outback Australia – and I love music and homecomings, and characters full of flaws.”
This story was amended on 24 July to correct the cost of Minchin’s scrapped film