Seven Types of Ambiguity will reel you in early on from its inciting incident: the kidnapping of a young boy.
But rather than turning into a whodunnit, ABC’s new drama becomes a why-dunnit, as viewers are teased with clues as to why the boy was ‘abducted.’
For co-producer Amanda Higgs adapting Elliot Perlman’s novel, there were choices made to re-work the tale for a television audience, principally those around episodes that focus on character points of view.
“The challenge is to hold back material, to hold back story, and to know that it’s coming future episodes and maintain that intrigue, really. (It’s a choice) not to be confusing, but to maintain the intrigue. That’s quite challenging now, with the way that people watch television,” she explains.
“Someone said to me ‘People are very greedy for all the sugar up front!’ which I thought was a great expression. We’re actually holding off the sugar!
“But I’m a real believer in setting things up and then just letting the audience find the story as they find the characters. That’s the kind of Television I want to watch, and I want to make.
“I think Tony does too. This was very much his baby from the start.”
Tony is co-producer Tony Ayres, acclaimed for productions such as The Slap, Barracuda, Glitch, The Family Law, Wanted, Nowhere Boys by Matchbox Pictures. Seven Types of Ambiguity is already being branded as ‘the next Slap.’
But there are key differences between the style of the pieces, despite each episode showcasing a principal character.
“Each episode branches off into a different part of the story. It’s how each character connects to each other. There’s a little bit of crossover but it’s actually more separate,” Higgs explains.
“This is much more point of view focussed, I think even more than The Slap.
“The Slap did allow that point of view of the other characters. Here, every theme features the character whose episode it is about.
“And it’s actually shot from their point of view. The camera is, more often than not, looking at them rather than what they’re responding to. That was a really deliberate style choice, so I think it does differ quite significantly from The Slap in that regard. And we wanted it to, too.”
A bevy of Australian stars drives the 6 part series, Hugo Weaving, Alex Dimitriades Xavier Samuel, Leeanna Walsman, Andrea Demetriades, Anthony Hayes, and Susie Porter. Writers are Jonathan Gavin,
Marieke Hardy and Jacquelin Perske with Glendyn Ivin, Ana Kokkinos and Matthew Saville directing.
The series has already been chosen for competition at Series Mania Festival in Paris and is tipped to make a splash in the next round of screen nominations.
“There’s such great characters at the heart of this book. They’re grown up, they’re sophisticated, they’re complex. They do things we don’t expect, they surprise us,” says Higgs.
“It was two things really (that drew me). It was the potential of a good plot, a mystery at the centre of it, with really really good characters.
“And it was a way to examine Australian relationships that I don’t feel has been done on TV before, in quite this way.
“For me you are seeing people at a particular point of crisis. It’s an event you are seeing from the different points of view of each character. And it’s not so much about who took Sam the boy, but why.”
Seven Types of Ambiguity airs 8:30pm tonight on ABC with all episodes on iview thereafter.