Servo Wars/Bin Ninja: So you wanna be a Reality TV star?


I still can’t believe it. It was a sure thing. The public would’ve loved it, but it wasn’t to be. Of course, I speak of my reality TV show, Servo Wars.


We know the cultural and social importance of this genre when our premier limited-overs cricket competition is necessarily reduced to being a cross-promotional tool for the upcoming wackiness of some hugely engaging folk eating spiders in Kruger National Park.


At the end of our Singaporean street were two busy service stations. Yes, two, right across the road from each other! I almost want to type, “literally across the road from each other,” but my fingers, in grammatical obedience, won’t allow this.


Anyhow, can you imagine a more perfect setting for a gripping reality TV series? Each station a microcosm of bustling human activity within a teeming island state, but there’s a broader narrative arc in which our two servo’s are in constant, artificially-constructed competition with each other. Genius, I hear you breathlessly whisper.


Servo Wars.


The thrilling drama would’ve included:


The lovable, stumbling driveway attendants yes, Singapore still has folks who fill your tank, check the oil and wash your windscreen who once or twice a week are necessarily skiddled in the name of televisual art by inattentive Uber drivers and become inconvenient stains on the driveway, their bloodied limbs a-thrashing like shark attack victims. This will soon be followed by the engaging theatre of wailing ambulances and Ray-banned police, not chewing gum, but interrogating the trembling car owners before they’re hauled off to Changi prison.




The duelling managers of both affixed convenience shops shouting at the store assistants, sometimes simultaneously, “I asked for more condoms in the counter display! Together is this curiously asexual nation’s most popular, albeit furtively purchased brand of birth control, and I can only see dozens of Alone packages!”




“Look across the road at our competitor, our eternal enemy! They’re offering two-for-one croissants. Somebody. Do something!” (John Kennedy’s well-known in the Asian tropics)


I know, I know.


While Servo Wars remains unproduced, our planet is a little poorer. But’s here’s hope. Casting will soon begin for my latest project, one that will capture our hearts like the charming Bachelorette bogans.


Ladies and gentlemen, Bin Ninja.


A character-driven vehicle focussing upon the endless struggles of a middle-aged suburbanite as he tries desperately to manage his bins: the red (general refuse), the green (organic materials only) and the yellow (recycling), this is everyman drama, but infused with the conventions of Greek theatre.


Bin Ninja’s work is manual and repetitive as he selflessly takes stuff to his nest of driveway bins, five, six, sometimes ten times a day, every day! But, watch as the meditative power of these acts transcends the mundanity. Bin Ninja!


Look! The boys have just finished some muesli bars- wrappers to the bins! Plastic milk container empty again? That’s the second today. They’ll pee the bed! Never fear, Bin Ninja silently walks it outside, dashing through the hail and wind, stomping the plastic flat and dropping it into the yellow (recycling) bin. The man’s a hero!


Then there’s the Sunday Bin Ninja’s wife lopped the 96-year-old neighbour’s overhanging tree, scattering limbs and leafy debris all over the precious and universally-admired lawn, and left him to chop up the branches with a cheap hand saw and inadequate pruning shears and, somehow, fit them all into the green (organic) bin while the wife promptly skipped off to the Glenelg footy club with her girlfriends and drank Adelaide Hills sparkling wine!


Oh, Bin Ninja, I think the nation’s falling in love with you already!


And just when Bin Ninja merchandise is sold out across the entire country- t-shirts, stubby holders, novelty BBQ aprons- the eagerly awaited Christmas special screens. On Boxing Day!


The plot is simple: the boys again get too many presents, and all the plastic and cardboard packaging for the infinite games and the Lego and the car racing tracks and the cricket-sets and the bike accessories and the bed-sheet like wrapping paper has to all fit into the yellow (recycling) bin already exploding with pre-Christmas boxes and clunking bottles and beer cartons, and abandoned greeting cards and envelopes from already-forgotten former work colleagues.


What will Bin Ninja do? How will this very real, very residential conflict find resolution? The bin is spilling all over the sorry driveway, and what’s that sinister noise? It’s the council bin-truck making its menacing, diesel-fumed way along their very street! Go Bin Ninja, go! Will he wheel the bins out in time? Will he dodge being run over by this mechanical beast? Will he save his family from a recycling/ organic waste/ general refuse crisis?


Coming in 2018.


Bin Ninja.

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. I am a little so-so on Servo Wars, Mickey.

    But Bin Ninja…that is something that would really pique my interest.
    What about those neighbours who take the liberty of over-filling your bins if you put them out too early. I am thinking of putting a sign on top of my bins which reads “F#ck off if you haven’t asked!”

  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Smokie,
    I don’t mind if people put extra’s in my bins, as usually when mine are out, so is all my rubbish for the week. Mind you, as the kids have grown and there are less of them, there is surprisingly more room in each bin. Funny about that. I have been the Bin Ninja forever, and at times of full house, have asked my neighbour for room in theirs. It was a given, the give and take of being good neighbours.

    In the tradition of 7-11, Servo Wars could have wage disparities as part of the plot line.

  3. Thanks Smokie and Yvette.

    Having lived in places where bins play no part in suburban life I reckon they’re a curiously vital component in how we interact, with incidental neighbourly conversations as you simultaneously wheel ’em out. Or the shared mystery late in the day if they’re inexplicably un-emptied. Or getting someone to put them out or away if you’re on holiday. The sort of stuff Frank Bascombe could turn into a profound real estate and existential meditation (I’m re-reading Independence Day).

    And, as you both indicate there’s a whole galaxy of etiquette around using each others’ bins for overflow. I wonder if the rules vary slightly around the country, and what these variations might say about those communities? (MA thesis in this)

    Although we have no choice what’s the ideal bin night? Ours are done on Fridays which is great. Nothing like starting your weekend with a (relatively) fresh set of bins into which the lawn clippings can be tipped!

    Years ago just up the road in the same suburb, but via a quirk of local council boundaries (West Torrens and not Holdfast Bay) our bins had to go out on Sunday nights. Occasionally, this was a challenge, given our youthful social life. There’s minor terror in being awoken Monday morning by a rumbling vehicle and calculating how long you’ve got to beat the truck. (here’s another pilot)

    Yvette- if the Singaporean version of Servo Wars got up all the workers would be united by being paid a pittance, but happy to have a job and the opportunity to serve their country (dictatorship) while their PM was the highest paid leader on the planet!

    Finally if an Australian feature film about a bloke and porta-loos can work then these concepts…But, they’re probably too middle-brow for Channel 9.



  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Mickey, I see huge opportunities for various shows in the Servo Wars franchise. Servo Wars- the Price is Right (guess the price of the overpriced goods in the store), Celebrity Servo Wars, where a different Australian icon (think the likes of Warnie, Danii Minogue or Warwick Capper) drives off without paying. As well as various city based shows. Servo Wars Melbourne. Servo Wars Sydney. Servo Wars Dapto. Huge potential. Promoted all Summer long during the network that wins the rights Big Bash/Australian Open/ODI coverage.

  5. Both would out-rate ODI cricket. ODI’s have more predictable plot lines than Bold and the Beautiful (AE is addicted so I am a passive addict).
    I see cross genre possibilities between Servo Wars and Bin Ninja. “A bloke I know” lives across the road from a house of Asian (Singaporese?) students (they seem to be stacked 5 high in every room). An endless parade of car shuffles that outdoes The Castle (who has got the keys to the Kia so I can shift the Hyundai?).
    Why do their tires go mysteriously flat whenever they park across Bin Ninja’s driveway?
    Are all Asian’s colour blind? The only explanation for green bins stacked a metre above the (non-existent) lid with pizza boxes. Is it the morning easterly wind or Bin Ninja that lands the overflow on their front doormat? When the bins are still in the street 3 days later is it Bin Ninja who mysteriously places them upside down in the driveway? Is Bin Ninja racist or a GOM as CB astutely observes? To be continued………..

  6. Luke- thanks for this. Is summer sport now only a promotional tool for late summer and subsequent TV shows? Was it always thus? Servo Wars appeals partly because I spent a few teenaged years as a petrol pumper, or as a mate described it, a petroleum transfer engineer. I can think of no better vehicle for Warney than this.

    PB- my late grandfather-in-law was a B&B fan, pausing every day at 5pm in Gympie to take in the action (as it were). This presented a curious contrast as he was a hard man, a former farmer, who in the habit of many Queenslanders, wore no shoes unless socially required. We’d daily watch the cricket as the hot breeze slapped their elevated home, but at 5pm silence was demanded. I’d retire to their veranda and watch the geckos scurry about.

  7. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Mickey, shame on you for coming up with ideas that might give Larry Emdur another gig! But gee, they are good.

  8. Mickey, our bin day is Tuesday, which is not too bad.
    The bins go out on a Monday night – full to bursting after the weekend.
    I have the beat-the-bin-truck timing down pat. Just last Tuesday morning I was frantically pruning as many trees as I could whilst listening to the rumble of the bin truck in the street behind. I filled the green bin and wheeled it out just as the bin truck was emptying the next-door neighbour’s bin.

  9. Larry Emdur or Baby John Burgess, Punxsa! Of course Ron Sparks does the promo voice overs.

    Well played Smokie. You go through to the next round!

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Who will plat the role of Recycling Bin Contents Auditor? “Yes, I know it’s got that triangle symbol on it but the Council handbook specifically states ‘no soft plastics’ so it goes in the red bin instead”

  11. Recycling Bin Contents Auditor could be handled by Alf, on loan from Home and Away. Michael Caton could have a role too. If she wasn’t deceased Sheila Florance would be a handy inclusion.

    Thanks Swish.

  12. Ok, Mickey, the next round for me is as follows:
    I stay up all night, prostrate in the front yard, equipped with binoculars and a torch, ready to apprehend any neighbour who stealthily attempts to put refuse in my bin!

Leave a Comment