Seven this week premieres the much-anticipated Bevan Lee drama Between Two Worlds. It launches after the premiere of Farmer Wants a Wife on Sunday night, setting up a massive ratings brawl as the new Seven shows face off against the premier of season four of Nine’s Ninja Warrior Australia.
Created by Bevan Lee, the TV drama guru told Mediaweek it is his best yet, and from the man who has All Saints, Always Greener, Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers on his IMDB credits, it is quite a claim.
After watching the first hour I am not about to argue. The first of 10 episodes takes viewers on a wild ride and leaves them panting for breathe at the end, definitely wanting more.
“What I wanted to do with this show was to create a rip-snorting, twisting and turning show that would make people come back for one good reason – what the hell happens next,” Lee told Mediaweek.
“Usually what happens next is not what viewers are expecting. It is a show that keeps pulling the rug out from underneath the audience. A lot of what people presume from that first hour just ain’t so. It’s an exercise in misdirection and tricking people into thinking they are watching one sort of show, then boom, it changes. I wanted to give the audience a wild ride!”
Without wanting to spoil any enjoyment, all we will say is there a major event in the first few minutes. Lees aid: “After that people realise that, shit, anything can happen.” That wild ride certainly starts in the first episode where there are several more jolts before the end of that first hour.
For people trying to forecast the plot…beware! “I constantly set stuff up, and then subvert it.” Viewers need to pay attention too. “It is an incredibly complex plot. It seems to be a simple plot, but by the time you go through 10 hours it is fiendishly complex.”
The series name refers not to just the two worlds of the Walford and Grey families, but also the meeting of two genres of drama.
“I have made my living in two forms of drama. One is high melodrama, and I see that as a term of praise, and the other is family drama.
“With Between Two Worlds what I wanted to do is take the two forms and do a mixtape with them. If you look at the first episode, and separate all the scenes out, you would have half hour pilots two completely different shows. They are only linked by the final moment of that episode.
“The Grey world is a little bit like the Rafters and the Walford world is a bit like Sons & Daughters on steroids. It takes some time for the two worlds to converge.” [Lee worked on Sons & Daughters as a writer between 1982 and 1987.]
Lee said he had the idea for this series rattling around for some time. “It’s an expensive project that was quite difficult to get off the ground. We always thought there was no point doing it unless we could reference the Walford world as lavishly as it is.”
Having taken some time and getting access to the funds to make it look good led Lee to tell us, “It’s probably the best fully formed scripting work I have done. I have written nine out of the 10 episodes and then I contributed to the other one as well with Trent Atkinson.”
Lee said he is not the sort to work in a writer’s room and writing by committee. “There is a bit of a control freak inside me that rebels at that thought. If Tom Stoppard can write a whole play, why can’t I write a whole season?”
The creator is hoping for more than a second season, something that virtually all of his projects have been. “There is more story to tell. I call this the best show I have ever done. I hope there is more of it. However we are in a world where there is no such thing as a slam dunk.”
Lee noted he has had a few turkeys over the years that deserved to be cancelled. “But this one doesn’t deserve to go down. It would be great to have a number of seasons of it.”
Lee quickly adds it was not just his contribution making it great – but a wonderful team that all came together. That included long-time Lee collaborator and Seven’s executive producer Julie McGauran, series producer Chris Martin-Jones “my dream producer”, Lesley Parker co-producer, director Kriv Stenders “wonderfully cinematic on the first two episodes followed by other wonderful directors and amazing art directors”.
Of the cast Lee said: “It was just mean to be that Philip Quast took the role of Phillip Walford. Hermione Norris [as Cate Walford] came from left of field and has done a wonderful job with that character. She came in after I’d written the part and actually did a shitload better than what I had in my head when I wrote it.”
Future of TV drama
Lee: “I am very glad to have had my career. I am now borderline thinking of retirement. The business is now too confounding and confusing to my sense of Teutonic logic.
“I lived in the days when if you have a good project the money would be got together, and it would get made. If it was good, it would rate and it all made sense. Things in the business are stopping to make sense to me know.
“It is difficult for people writing these days with the emergence of appropriate speak. It makes everybody fearful of what they write. In good faith am I going to write something where people will take exception and turn on me like a pack of feral dogs and my career will be over? It’s almost a new McCarthyism.”
Thinking of stepping back from series TV
Lee: “I have had my time in the sun. It’s time for me to step aside and let the young crop come through and make their shows.
“When you reach 70 [which happens in November] you don’t know when you are going to die. I don’t want to fall over dying of a heart attack with a headful of characters!”
Lee seemed convinced this is the last series he has in him. He didn’t rule out maybe a novel or perhaps a movie. “This is a great way to go out because I have my head held high. Even if it’s not a ratings hit, which would be very sad, I know it’s a fucking good show. That’s the way I want to go out.”
Top Photos: Bevan Lee on the set of Between Two Worlds