New ABC coronavirus isolation comedy, ‘Retrograde’, to launch in July

Produced and filmed entirely remotely

A new six-part ABC comedy series about isolating during the pandemic, Retrograde, will premiere in July.

Retrograde, created, written and produced by Meg O’Connell, will be the first remotely-filmed narrative comedy series to be released in Australia, with parts of the production process undertaken during lockdown. Natalie Bailey (The Thick of It) is set to direct.

Per a press release, the show revolves around a group of “thirty-something friends as they drown their sorrows at a virtual bar in the time of COVID-19”. It stars Pallavi Sharda, Ilai Swindells, Maria Angelico, Esther Hannaford and Nick Boshier, with a guest appearance from Ronny Chieng.


Retrograde’s full bio doesn’t attribute roles to any of its stars, but said the show centres on the story of Gemma, whose new job in Korea is cancelled at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and is forced to move in with her dull boyfriend Rob and his daughter. Her friends create the online bar to “commiserate and workshop their questionable life choices”.

O’Connell said the show was about the existential crises brought on by the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 lockdown means the characters in Retrograde are finally having the existential crises they put off having in their twenties. They’re being forced to look at their reflections in the mirror (or video call) and are asking themselves: Do I like what I see?,” she said.

ABC’S Head of Drama, Comedy and Indigenous Sally Riley added that the remote production of Retrograde forced them to “[reimagine] the way we make drama and comedy”.

An exact premiere date for the program has not yet been announced. It follows the release of new COVID-Safe guidelines from Screen Australia last month, designed to restart local film and TV production.