Comedy writers Chris Gau and Michael Orton-Toliver have devised comedy series, Borderline for Channel 5.
“I got kicked out of the UK. Literally. I was flying in from Amsterdam where I was a resident at the time, and a Border Agent was having a bad day and detained me over night. The next morning, they ‘Removed me from the United Kingdom’. They put me in handcuffs, confiscated my passport, and put me on a plane back to Amsterdam – GERMANY! After the initial outrage and annoyance, I thought ‘this would make a good sitcom’!” – Borderline, writer Michael Orton-Toliver
The writing duo created and wrote the retro-scripted mockumentary together, which is based in the border security office of Northend Airport – a small provincial airport in the UK. The six-part series follows the daily lives of the staff who work there, their relationships with each other and the obstacles they face on a daily basis.
Tackling the hot topic of immigration, Borderline examines what happens when ‘normal’ people have to make decisions they wouldn’t usually make, because of a new government initiative or legislation. Shining a light on the complexities of these decisions, and based on writer Michael Orton-Toliver’s own real life experience, Borderline shows these issues through a humorous lens and, in true British comedy tradition, give us an opportunity to laugh at ourselves in the face of adversity.
Chris Gau is a British comedy writer and improviser from London, whilst Michael Orton-Toliver is an American comedy writer, improviser and expat now living in London but originally from Claremont, California. The two met just over 2 years ago and, in addition to co-creating and writing Borderline for Channel 5, the duo have also worked together on The Literary Adventures of Mr Brown, a comedy series for BBC Radio 4 that first aired in February 2016.
Borderline is unique to other TV comedies around, in that it uses improvisation at every point of its creation with the intention of relaying a more natural and funnier performance from an initial script. The creators also insisted on using, so far, undiscovered comedy actors and improvisers whom they knew, rather than more obvious names in the comedy industry.
“Mike [Michael Orton-Toliver] and I have tried to create a fresh voice in comedy and I feel that we complement each other well because of our transatlantic hybrid. British comedy is quick to denounce any easy, sentimental steps and Americans are great at creating heartfelt loveable characters (even when they’re despicable). Combine these things and you’ve got a great comedy, which is what we have aimed to do.” – Writer Chris Gau
Borderline will air on Channel 5 this summer.