Michael Veitch (born 29 November 1962) is an Australian comedian, author and broadcaster, best known for his roles on the sketch comedy television shows The D-Generation, Fast Forward and Full Frontal, as well as for his books on Second World War aviation and the Bass Strait Islands.
Biography and career
Veitch emerged from the tradition of the University of Melbourne (where he completed an Arts degree) sketch comedy and revue. In 1985, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) produced three locally produced comedy series: The Gillies Report, Australia You're Standing In It and The D-Generation, the latter absorbing the current group of talent performing in Melbourne Uni revues. Veitch performed a wide variety of characters over two seasons of The D-Generation, a programme which eventually cemented among the annals of Australian comedy. Some of his characters included Kelvin Cunnington, a puerile young man obsessed with smutty innuendo (rumoured to be based on a real-life commercial radio host); Murray Beckworth, a semi-senile veteran of the Second World War; and many roles with Magda Szubanski. The D-Generation team eventually split, with half the team going on to produce The Late Show and form Working Dog Productions; Veitch was part of the group (including Jane Turner, Marg Downey and Magda Szubanski) which joined Steve Vizard's company to produce sketch comedy shows Fast Forward and Full Frontal.
As one of the lead performers on Fast Forward and Full Frontal, Veitch became known for his many impersonations of current personalities movie and TV icons such as Sonny (Skippy parody), Clive Robertson, Clive James, and particularly Wayne, the gay airline steward which he created and performed alongside Steve Vizard.
Other TV projects Veitch has been involved with include the short-lived period sitcom Bligh which aired on Ch-7 in 1992, in which he starred alongside Magda Szubanski and Jimeoin. He was also a cast-regular on the sketch comedy series Jimeoin in 1995, Eric Bana's comedy vehicle Eric in 1997 and the TV-1 sitcom Shock Jock (2001–2002). Veitch also made appearances in the first season of the Ch-9 sketch series Comedy Inc in 2003.
In 2005, Veitch made a short-lived return to sketch comedy, appearing alongside former Fast Forward patrons Peter Moon and Marg Downey in Let Loose Live. The series was axed after 2 episodes, due to poor ratings. Prior to the show's debut, Veitch had said in an interview with the Melbourne Age... I think that there is a hunger for comedy. We need something to hold the mirror up and look at the familiar in a different way and take the piss out of things, especially the things that we take for granted. So much of the world is presented to us as a kind of impervious block of information, and what satire does is say well, actually, no, you don't have to look at everything the way that society wants you to look at it. You can see the absurdities in it, you don't have to take it as seriously as they want you to take it.
From 2006 to 2009 Veitch presented ABC Television's flagship arts magazine program, Sunday Arts on the ABC; ironically, this was one of the roles which he had performed in parody a decade before on Fast Forward.
Veitch also provided several of the voices for the children's animated series Dogstar which aired on Ch-9 and the Australian Disney Channel between 2006 & 2012.
In 2012, Veitch starred in the award-winning short film Best Kept Secret, a mockumentary spoof on tourist promotion, filmed in Tasmania and directed by David Pyefinch.
Veitch joined the ensemble cast of the sketch comedy series Open Slather which began airing on Foxtel's The Comedy Channel in May 2015.
Veitch has a daughter, Zora, who for several years edited the distinguished Australian literary publication, Meanjin Quarterly, and two sons, Thomas and William .
Hailing from a family of journalists, Veitch wrote Flak – True stories from the men who flew in World War II published in 2006 by Pan Macmillan and later, Fly: True stories of courage and adventure from the airmen of World War II published by Penguin Australia in August 2008. A third book, The Forgotten Islands, exploring the lesser-known islands of Bass Strait, was published by Penguin Australia in August 2011. Further publications include a history of the CSIRO marine exploration vessel, Southern Surveyor, released in late 2015 (CSIRO Publishing) and a further volume of Second World War airman stories, 'Heroes of the Skies' also published late 2015 by Penguin Books. In July 2016, he released '44 Days - 75 Squadron and the Fight for Australia' through Hachette Australia. This work explores the six week period in early 1942 when a single squadron of RAAF airmen defended Port Moresby against the ascendant Japanese.
In 2010, Veitch moved to Hobart, Tasmania, to host afternoons on 936 ABC Hobart local ABC radio. At the beginning of 2012, he began hosting the evening program across Tasmania. Later that year, he left ABC local radio to commence working with a theatre production, with his final broadcast occurring on 20 September 2012.
In 2003, Veitch played one of the lead roles in the Australian production of the musical The Full Monty, based on the 1997 film. In 2004, he starred in the musical comedy It's A Dad Thing which toured nationally.
In 2009, Veitch played the lead role of Molly Meldrum in the Melbourne musical comedy I Can't Believe it's Not Countdown, a tribute to the iconic Countdown TV show of the 1970s and 80s. Veitch was praised for his performance, one reviewer remarking (of the show's return in 2011), renowned Australian actor Michael Veitch brings the role of Molly Meldrum to life – his portrayal is nothing short of outstanding. One would be forgiven for thinking that Meldrum himself was back on stage. Veitch’s imitation skills are flawless and his comic timing is second to none.
In 2011, Veitch appeared in ExitLeft's production of The Sound of Music in Hobart, playing the role of Herr Zeller. In 2012, Veitch played one of the lead roles in the live musical comedy More Sex Please We're Seniors, written by John-Michael Howson. Despite poor reviews, the show enjoyed a successful run in Melbourne.
In 2014 and 2015, Veitch toured Australia in 'Flak – True stories from the men who flew in World War Two', a one-man stage version of his successful aviation books, in which he performs, in character, several of the men whose war stories he uncovered in his books, 'Flak' and 'Fly'. This production is on-going, with more performances due for 2016/17.
Selected television and film roles
- The D-Generation (1986–1987)
- The D-Generation (Ch-7 Specials) (1988–1989)
- Fast Forward (1989–1992)
- Bligh (1992)
- Full Frontal (1993–1994)
- Stark (1993)
- Jimeoin (1995)
- Halifax f.p (1995)- 1 episode
- Blue Heelers (1996, 2003)- 2 episodes
- Mercury (1996)
- IMT (1996)
- Eric (1997)
- Ocean Girl (1997)
- Something in the Air (2000)- 3 episodes
- Pizza (2000, 2003)- 2 episodes
- Shock Jock (2001–2002)
- McLeod's Daughters (2002)- 2 episodes
- Comedy Inc (2003)
- Stingers (2004)- 1 episode
- Let Loose Live (2005)
- The Extra (2005)
- Sunday Arts (2006–2009) (Presenter)
- Dogstar (2007, 2011) (Voice)
- City Homicide (2010)- 1 episode
- Best Kept Secret (2012)- Short Film
- Open Slather (2015)