Steve Callaghan has seen some strange stuff while working at Family Guy, but nothing tops an email containing the subject line, "Butthole".

"I exchanged that email back and forth for weeks with [Fox network censors] Standards and Practices," sighs Callaghan, the show's executive producer. "It was about our use of that word in a gag and what would make it acceptable. Some of the conversations we have are ... so silly."

Family's Guy's constant discourse with censors is a sign that, after 14 seasons and 269 episodes, Seth MacFarlane's show hasn't stopped trying to push comedy boundaries.

Over that time, the animated comedy about the Griffin family - Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Stewie and Brian - has done some truly bizarre things, from featuring a talking baby as a main character, to dedicating entire episodes to dad Peter's battle with a chicken called Ernie.


Along the way, there have been musicals, Star Wars parodies, road trips and even a crossover episode with former rivals The Simpsons.

Callaghan says the show's format, designed by creator MacFarlane, gives them plenty of scope for storytelling.

"The characters are fun, the dynamics between them are interesting and I love that we do cutaways and flashbacks. The tempo means we can do a lot of different types of episodes," he says.

With its latest season beginning on TV2 tonight, Callaghan admits Family Guy walks a fine line over its edgy humour.

But he believes it only crosses that line occasionally.

"We always try to fall on the funny side of the line rather than the offensive side."

Callaghan, who has written 19 episodes, believes the best stories come from something "relatable".

"There's an episode where Brian went to work for Stewie in a ... marketing scheme and that was borrowed from a family member of mine.

"There's no shame in pillaging your own [life] for the sake of comedy."

• New episodes begin screening on TV2 at 9.30pm today