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.
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.