Julia Zemiro on driving off into the sunset for Home Delivery’s final season

Julia Zemiro

• Plus: The stories Zemiro wishes the show had done more of

After almost 10 years of trips down memory lane – usually trips taken in very cool cars – Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery is finishing up with its ninth and final season. Sending the show off over four 45-minute specials, Ray Martin, Marcia Hines, and Stephen Page will tell their stories before Zemiro herself packs up to go on her very own home delivery

Mediaweek spoke to Julia Zemiro ahead of the final season, which airs Sunday, June 19th at 7.40pm on ABC and ABC iview.

Julia Zemiro and Ray Martin

With Home Delivery wrapping up for good, Zemiro says that while saying goodbye is hard, it’s something she has been prepared for.

When you make a series, every year you ask, is that it? Is there going to be another one? 

“We wouldn’t film the show every year, sometimes we would film every 18 months. It’s been this thing where my year travels along and then I get the call. Then you spend three months travelling around filming it. It’s not like a nine-to-five job where it would leave a big hole in your life. It’s like a great holiday you get to go on.”

The most recent season had a spanner thrown into the works when Covid shut the world down. While that could very easily have marked the end of the show, Zemiro says she’s glad it didn’t.

Stephen Page and Julia Zemiro

“We were filming our last series when Covid hit, we were up to episode eight. We had two more to go and we had to cancel the last two – then, of course, everything shut down. We couldn’t finish those two, we ended up just putting the eight to air. 

“I said to the ABC, ‘look, if this is going to be our last show, can you just tell us?’ Often with shows, you don’t get told that you’ll be doing the last one, and you can’t enjoy that or celebrate this amazing show that you did.

“Whilst it’s bittersweet that it’s finishing, I’m so grateful that the ABC is having us do a final series of four episodes that are going to be longer than usual. I think in terms of how you end something, that is a really respectful way to do it.

Getting ready to look back on their life this season is TV icon, Ray Martin,  queen of pop, Marcia Hines, and celebrated choreographer and director Stephen Page. Zemiro says that each one brought something special.

“I knew that Stephen Page was about to step down as artistic director of Bangarra after 20 years. The work they do is just so extraordinary, powerful, and exciting, and always has been – he’s just one of life’s great storytellers. 

“We wanted people who are good at telling stories. Ray Martin is a great storyteller, and also he had been one of the cancelled episodes during Covid – we had our heart set on him. 

“Then with Marcia Hines, we wanted to do a musician. I wanted to hear that story of being 16, arriving in Australia to be in a production of Hair, discovering she was pregnant, and then making Australia her home. She did not disappoint.

Marcia Hines and Julia Zemiro

Marcia Hines and Julia Zemiro

In the final episode, Zemiro set off on her own home delivery. 

“It was weird,” she says. “I felt very exposed, all of a sudden it was turned on to me.”

Throughout her trip back through time, it was the interviewers who made all the difference.

My dad had died recently and I was still feeling that,” says Zemiro. “To be back in the restaurant that he owned and used to work in when I was little, of course I got upset. Luckily, Costa Georgiadis was my interviewer. When I did his episode, his dad had recently died – I was in very safe hands.

Costa Georgiadis and Julia Zemiro

Costa Georgiadis and Julia Zemiro

“With Mark Humphries, we had a lot of fun because it was at my primary school. I did a lot of my schooling in French, and he spent a year in France. We got to speak French together, which was great. 

“For my high school, I got Justine Clarke because we adore her and she’s a beautiful interviewer, but she was also four years below me at school. We went to the same school and the same drama classes. Then I got Judith Lucy, who I adore and trust and love, to do the Melbourne end of it at acting school.

Over 77 episodes of Home Delivery, Zemiro has travelled the world to tell people’s stories. However as the series comes to its close, it’s the stories closest to home that stand out. 

“I’ve been so lucky to go to so many different places with this show – we’ve been to Singapore, England, Wales. But for me, the eye-opener was the Indigenous stories that we did

Stan Grant in Griffith, to go back to his childhood and every time he walked down the street, people seemed to know who he was. Nicky Winmar in Western Australia, Cathy Freeman, Stephen Page. That’s still a side of Australia that I don’t know that well. I can never hear enough of their stories, I wish we’d done more.

As she drives off into the sunset in one of Home Delivery’s classic cars, the prominent feeling for Zemiro is gratitude.

“It’s been a real privilege to be driven around and to drive others around the country to do the show. I’m just so thankful that the ABC has given us an opportunity to do a final one and say thank you and goodbye properly because that doesn’t often happen.”

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