BACK ON THE SHELVES

Every­one, keep it down, please – The Li­brar­i­ans has re­turned for a sec­ond sea­son. Guy Davis caught up with the creators of the show, Robyn But­ler and Wayne Hope.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FEATURE -

When we last saw Frances O’Brien, the pow­er­fully pas­sive-ag­gres­sive head li­brar­ian at the Mid­dle­ton In­ter­ac­tive Learn­ing Cen­tre, she was at some­thing of a low point.

Her role in a botched team-build­ing ex­er­cise that left a work col­league confi ned to a wheel­chair led to Frances be­ing booted from her job and sen­tenced to com­mu­nity ser­vice.

But there’s no keep­ing some­one as scar­ily dis­ci­plined and qui­etly power-mad as Frances down for too long, and the sec­ond sea­son of The Li­brar­i­ans, the hit ABC com­edy, sees her mov­ing heaven and earth – OK, a lo­cal civil tri­bunal, ac­tu­ally – to be re­stored to her right­ful place.

“ We hadn’t re­ally thought about The Li­brar­i­ans be­yond that fi rst sea­son, so the daunt­ing part was that we’d writ­ten our­selves into a cor­ner,” said Robyn But­ler, co-cre­ator and star of the se­ries.

“ But it was quite good to then have to solve the puz­zle. It took a while to make it hap­pen but I can re­mem­ber hav­ing that great mo­ment of ‘ Oh­hhh, I know how to do this!’”

Al­most ev­ery cast mem­ber of the fi rst sea­son has re­turned for the sec­ond six-episode sea­son, and But­ler and the show’s di­rec­tor, her hus­band and co-star Wayne Hope ( of Very Small Busi­ness fame), have also at­tracted a num­ber of high-profi le guest stars, in­clud­ing Hamish Blake, Noni Ha­zle­hurst and Vince Colosimo.

“ You don’t want peo­ple be­ing in­tim­i­dated by Frances, and many peo­ple tend to be sub­mis­sive be­cause she’s the cen­tral char­ac­ter,” said Hope. “ But when you’ve got some­one who can re­ally give it back to her, the whole thing comes alive.”

But­ler and Hope have been work­ing to­gether for over a decade now, with their pro­duc­tion com­pany Grist­mill re­spon­si­ble for two suc­cess­ful ABC come­dies.

“ Once you have some con­tent, it makes all the diff er­ence in the world,” said But­ler. “ You have proven you can make some­thing, make it well, get an au­di­ence and get some crit­i­cal suc­cess. Dare I say it, the world is your oys­ter.”

It was a good match from the start, both But­ler and Hope agree, with their styles and sense of hu­mour prov­ing com­ple­men­tary.

“ Well, my sense of hu­mour was ad­vanced, and Robyn’s even­tu­ally caught up,” quipped Hope.

“ I’m sorry, can you ex­plain that one to me?” said But­ler with a smile, be­fore adding that “ we’ve now found a bit of a groove, I think. We know our strengths, so it’s easy for us to say ‘ OK, you do this, I’ll do that’.”

And com­ing into the sec­ond sea­son of The Li­brar­i­ans ( with very early work on a third now un­der way at the Grist­mill offi ce), the duo be­lieve they’re on to a good thing.

“ We wanted to be a bit more so­phis­ti­cated in the sto­ry­telling as we pro­gressed, as you would want to,” said But­ler. “ And it was im­por­tant that the char­ac­ters were peo­ple rather than just, say, at­ti­tudes. I sup­pose that was the main chal­lenge, and I think we’ve achieved that.

“ We felt confi dent rather than daunted and that’s be­cause we knew what we were do­ing. We could tell by the way the cast and crew were read­ing the scripts – they thought it was bet­ter than the last one. That struck us a re­ally good sign.”

Kooky char­ac­ters: Clock­wise from top left, Nicole Nabout, Roz Ham­mond, Wayne Hope, Stephen Bal­lan­tyne, Keith Brock­ett, Bob Franklin, Heidi Arena and Robyn But­ler ( cen­tre) have all re­turned for the sec­ond sea­son of The Li­brar­i­ans.

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