If art often imitates life then the team at ABC’s Lowdown must be scratching their heads over how their scripts have been mirrored in the tabloid headlines.
While writing the second season, Adam Zwar and Amanda Brotchie devised a plot about a journo hacking phones to try and get a scoop. A short time later the News Corporation scandal broke in Britain.
“We had the funny issue of writing about phone hacking and that came up later, so we had to modify things to keep up and possibly outdo what reality had already orchestrated,” says Brotchie, also the series director.
“Each episode we looked at a different kind of thing that had happened in the media and then had that as a starting point for our episode. So it was that dilemma how of much do you use private investigators to get material on?”
She says the show has refined its act for Season Two, as it takes aim at tabloid journalism.
“The satire is probably a little bit sharper. There’s still a sense of the ridiculous but it’s also a little bit closer to the bone, particularly in the newsroom and the tabloid tactics.”
But the coincidences don’t end there. This week’s episode sees a fictional AFL footballer come out, in the same month as an Aussie Rules footballer, Jason Ball, comes out and calls for the league to help stamp out homophobia.
On Lowdown the role of the footballer will be played by Brett Tucker (Neighbours, McLeod’s Daughters).
Brotchie says, “Brett Tucker was a bit of a coup for us because he is based in LA now. So he went to the trouble and expense of coming out for us. In more ways than one! And he did a terrific job, and was a delight to work with, especially in that tricky role. He was so open and has a great self-deprecating sense of humour.”
Star Adam Zwar and director Amanda Brotchie also co-produce Lowdown with co-producer Nicole Minchin. The three run High Wire Films which has also produced Agony Uncles, Agony Aunts and Twentysomething for the ABC.
“The ABC was so positive about the first season that we’ve had a very smooth run with the second season,” Minchin explained.
“Really they’ve just read the scripts and embraced them. Debbie Lee our executive producer always has great input, but we’ve had free rein, really.
“There were a number of ways it could have gone with the (first series) ending left up in the air, so where I was expecting it could go wasn’t actually where it went. But that’s exciting, and I think it was the same for Debbie Lee when she was reading the scripts.
“Any note that she gives us is very much in line with exactly what we’re going for, so there’s no trouble getting nutty notes from network execs or anything like that.”
Lowdown also survived ABC management changes, with ABC1 Channel Controller Brendan Dahill taking up his role in between the first and second seasons. Such a move might have signalled the end for the comedy.
“There was a bit of regime change between first and second series and we wondered if that would affect us,” says Minchin.
It could have been yay or nay.
“Fortunately they said ‘yay.’”
Lowdown airs 9:30pm Thursday on ABC1.