Hamish Blake and Andy Lee are back at Nine for the first time since Gap Year South America in 2014. They are retiring from radio again, this time for what could be called their most mature TV series ever called True Story With Hamish & Andy.
“My mum might actually watch this one,” Andy Lee told Mediaweek with a laugh.
“It did actually involve some thought,” added Hamish Blake. “That is now a personal best for us.”
The series was created by the four-member Radio Karate team – Blake and Lee plus Ryan Shelton and Tim Bartley.
Lee said the idea for the series came from time spent watching re-enactments in various TV series. “Either crime or disaster recreations. We thought, why can’t there be a funny version? Some of those re-enactment shows produce pretty shoddy re-enactments. There might be some blurred vision of someone’s legs when they walk through a forest if they are about to put a backpacker out to pasture. We wanted to make a cinematic re-enactment show.”
Blake added: “We also just love a great story. It’s the kind of thing that floats our boat. For us nothing beats a funny, true story. The feeling when you meet a bunch of people and they have a classic story which might have been around for years and is the gold standard. We are trying to capture that feeling of when someone has one of those great tales. This is us bringing that story to life in the best way possible.
“We like working in an arena where there is a level of unpredictability, which is why the Gap Year and travel shows appeal to us because you didn’t really know what you were walking into. True Story appealed because it has a scripted element that we then had to go away and cast and shoot.
“The unpredictability is that we genuinely hear the stories for the first time. It was then a way to do a dramatic scripted show and provide a level of unpredictability for us. We didn’t know what the stories would be, we didn’t know who the people would be and we didn’t know what we were going to ask.
“It’s fun for us to think that whatever happens in that interview will become a half hour of TV…somehow.”
Lee said they had been finding it challenging to explain the exact concept for True Story to people. “It has taken some time to organise. We searched for eight months with a team of eight all around the country for Australia’s funniest true stories. We used our social media, radio and podcasts plus ringing outback pubs and door knocking.”
Real Stories v True Story
While working at TEN on Rove Live, Hamish and Andy developed a series in 2006 called Real Stories.
Blake: “Our canon of work now does contain Real Stories and True Story…and the upcoming factual happenings. [Laughs]”
Lee: “This one is very different because the irony of Real Stories is that they were all fake stories.”
True Story has a total of 138 speaking roles. “This is the chance for everyday Australians to have their own biopics,” said Lee.
Wayne Hope (Upper Middle Bogan and The Librarians) directed five of the True Story episodes. Others were directed by Sian Davies (The Ex-PM, House Husbands, Nowhere Boys) and Tim Bartley (Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year, Little Lunch, Real Stories) and the series is produced by Andrew Walker (Rosehaven, The Kettering Incident, Wanted).
The youngest storyteller is 18 and the oldest is nearly 70.
The impressive cast of actors across the series includes Kat Stewart, Rick Davies, Craig McLachlan, Emily Taheny, James Saunders, Helen Dallimore, Phil Lloyd, John Leary, Luke McGregor, Ryan Shelton, John Wood, Glenn Robbins, Madeleine West, Kitty Flanagan, Brian Nankervis, Colin Lane and Ed Kavalee.