Cold Feet Creatives Boost Down Under Drama

Written by James MacGregor on . Posted in Scripts and Development

Australia's Ten Network logoAustralia's Ten Network has successfully attracted overseas co-funding to boost its drama output and is expected to announce pre-production on the pilots of two new drama series.

Ten's head of drama Sue Masters said it was envisaged both projects would become long-running series for the network. "At a time when Australian drama has had well-publicised challenges, Ten is the first commercial network to secure significant overseas co-funding," she said.

Cold Feet - big British popular drama success

Tripping Over will be the first contemporary series to be co-produced between Australia and Britain. It teams up Briton Mike Bullen, creator of the award-winning show Cold Feet, with the producers behind the ABC's highly successful SeaChange, Andrew Knight and Andrea Denholm. Cold Feet ran for five series in Britain and was sold to more than 30 countries, including Australia.

Mr Knight and Mr Bullen, who now lives in Sydney, are in London this week for talks with directors on Tripping Over, a co-production with Britain's Channel Five. The comedy-drama will be filmed in London, Thailand, Sydney and Melbourne from May and will air later in the year.

Ms Masters said a six-part pilot would be made although Ten hoped it would become a 13-part series. Casting will be decided during the next few weeks.

Tripping Over focuses on different generations of people who are connected through friends and family and explores the idea that you sometimes have to go to the ends of the earth to find yourself.

"It is about that one time in your life when you cut loose from all you have been, travel and open yourself up to every and all possibilities. And, most of the time, you survive," Mr Knight said.

The second project, Secretary, also will start filming in May and will premiere later in the year. According to creator Amanda Higgs, it is a drama that peels back the glossy exterior of a smart city law firm to follow the lives of five secretaries and poses the question whether the women are sex bombs in stilettos or cool Miss Moneypenny types. Ms Higgs is the co-creator of The Secret Life of Us, which ran for four series on Ten until recently.

Ms Masters said that if Secretary delivered as well as Ten expected, it would develop into a 22-part series. "The UK and US shows have big budgets, they've got big strong story teams and there are no free kicks anywhere on a weeknight or weekend for drama. You have to deliver to your programmer something that everyone is going to get excited about from the start and that's no mean feat."

The projects follow last week's announcement that Ten's telemovie on the story of Joanne Lees - girlfriend of murder victim Peter Falconio, who died in the Northern Territory in 2001 - had received funding from the Film Finance Corporation. It will be made with Granada and ITV, the same team that produced the historical drama Mary Bryant, about the First Fleet convict.