It’s hard to know if Wendy Harmer is a fan of Agony Aunts or not.
With her trademark wry humour, she doesn’t hold back with opinions. But that’s exactly why she’s been cast in the first place.
“As much as I would love to say this is a really good idea for a programme, it’s probably useless,” she suggests.
“The only people who will probably take any advice from it are probably the people who are the same age as the Agony Aunts.
“Would you take advice from Judith Lucy? Would you take advice from Mirka Mora? No. Or any of the other girls. I wouldn’t take one scrap of advice from any of them!”
Comedian, writer, broadcaster and blogger, Harmer appears on the Adam Zwar-produced series with radio pal Angela Catterns. Both are seasoned radio presenters, individually and together, in Sydney. In addition to their summer breakfast programme on ABC 702 they have also shared their thoughts via podcasts.
On Agony Aunts she joins with Myf Warhurst, Julia Zemiro, Sarah Wilson, Denise Scott, Hannah Gadsby, Sam Lane and more in the tough questions on relationships.
“It was great fun to do, but I really do caution anybody –especially in Judith Lucy’s case. She has curly hair and a leather jacket!” she insists.
“I’ve met most of them and I wouldn’t trust any of them as far as I could throw them!”
Reflecting on her own upbringing, there is only so much advice she says she actually observed from her parents, blaming much of it on youth.
“There’s a line drawn between things people will remember and just ‘blah blah blah.’ Despite what people think, what you take away as advice when you’re younger is very subjective,” she says.
“The only things I ever remember my mother ever teaching me was never drink out of a tap because there might be a spider and never put your slippers on without checking because there might be a spider in there too.
“My mother swears she said many wise and wonderful things over the course of my life and I can’t remember any of them.
“And when I remind my father of advice he told me he says ‘I never said that!’
“So I think it’s a very interesting conundrum that the producers have to negotiate which is that we older people can go ‘blah, blah, blah’ and give all the advice in the world and the younger generation is going ‘Not listening, not listening!’”
These days Harmer is busy as Editor of her blog thehoopla.com.au, aimed at ‘wise, warm, witty and wonderful women.’ She is also appearing in Randling with Benjamin Law as team ‘Northern Thrusters,’ has just finished the sequel to her book, I Lost My Mobile at the Mall and is the creator of kids TV series Pearlie.
“My dance card’s pretty full and I have 2 kids, 12 and 14. The Hoopla takes most of my energy.”
With more of her very Australian self-irreverance, she admits to being a Nagging Aunt, rather than an Agony Aunt.
So who would she take advice from?
“The local butcher,” she suggests, quick as a flash.
Then with a change of heart, concedes, “I’d probably take advice from Mirka Mora.
“And Margaret Fulton, Maggie Beer and probably Quentin Bryce.
“I’d probably take advice from grandmothers because they wouldn’t be agonised anymore.
“The Brits had Grumpy Old Women but I like to think we’re more bemused here. Angela and I are endlessly bemused by the vicissitudes of middle age and I think that’s why we’ve been invited on.
“We just laugh ourselves silly, really.”
Agony Aunts airs 9:30pm Wednesdays on ABC1.