Ross Duncan is an in-house lawyer at Your ABC, something he has done for the past 20 years. His job is to protect the national broadcaster’s dignity and its wallet, and to keep people like Kerry OBrien, Monica Attard and that pesky little Chas Licciardello out of court.
Our man on the couch is also a freelance journalist, a media law teacher at the University of Technology, Sydney, and has just published his first novel, All Those Bright Crosses (Picador).
The book is set in Fiji, a destination of great fascination for Duncan. He began to research a story about long-lost treasure on one of the Fijian islands and in 2005 submitted a draft of his book as his master’s thesis for a degree in creative writing at UTS. It was so warmly received that Lyn Tranter, one of the country’s most formidable literary agents, put the fledgling scribbler under her wing, and the result is that we can all read his novel.
In a review of the book, The Sydney Morning Herald declared: “It looks like Ross Duncan has indeed done some serious writing.”
We asked some of the Chaser boys what they thought of their lawyer. Chris Taylor described him as, ”[quote deleted for legal reasons]”, while Julian Morrow said; “I’ll only be reading Ross’s novel to try and find reasons to sue him.”
Describe yourself in three words.
Witty, charming, modest.
What are you currently reading?
These questions. And my friend’s manuscript: a novel about working in a sex shop.
What’s your favourite film?
Antonioni’s “The Passenger” (it’s a mid-life thing).
Who or what do you fantasise about?
Living on the NSW far north coast.
What stimulants do you recommend?
Red wine. A good book – there’s this terrific new novel by an ABC lawyer.
What is your greatest fear?
I’m not too fond of cliff edges.
What words or phrases do you overuse?
I tend to say “you know” a lot, you know.
Who would you most like to meet?
My shadow (well, I am on the couch!).
Who do you envy and why?
A friend who eschewed the law, became a travel writer and lives in New York – for obvious reasons.
What is your most disturbing personal obsession?
Vegemite – can’t go a day without it.
What is your most glamorous feature?
My hair. Someone once kindly informed me I’d be nothing without it.
If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
Vegemite, so I could be disturbingly self-obsessed.
What’s your favourite television show?
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” – oops, am I meant to say “The Chaser?”
What human quality do you most distrust?
Certainty (I think).
What would you change about Australia?
I’d move it closer to the rest of the world.
Who or what do you consider overrated?
Pesto, in all its tedious ubiquity.
Off-air, who is the funniest member of the Chaser team?
You think they actually talk to me?
And the least talented one is?
Their legal adviser.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Groan, and roll over.
How would you like to die?
As old as possible, and preferably not alone.
What would your epitaph say?
“I guess I’ll never know.”
When you shut your eyes and think of the word “law”, what comes to mind?
A real eye-opener.