Re­turn of the King

Crown­ies court­room leg­end Janet King is back in ac­tion, with a new eight- part ABC le­gal drama bear­ing her name. Guy Davis speaks with se­ries star Marta Dus­sel­dorp.

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Dus­sel­dorp: “There was a lot of time and en­ergy spent in cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of show. But with ev­ery­one com­ing back,

it was al­most like we’d never left.”

It’s been a year since Se­nior Crown Pros­e­cu­tor Janet King has set foot in a court­room.

And af­ter 12 months of ma­ter­nity leave which has seen her car­ing for two in­fants with her part­ner, she is de­ter­mined to show she still has the edge that made her a le­gal force to be reck­oned with. But does she? “For the first time, I think you see Janet a bit ner­vous,” said Marta Dus­sel­dorp, who in the eight- part ABC drama Janet King reprises the role she orig­i­nated in Crown­ies.

“She’s not sure if this is right for her, which is a dif­fer­ent Janet. For some­one who is a bit of a con­trol freak and doesn’t care what people think of her, how she re­acts to this is … well, a very par­tic­u­lar thing.”

It’s a very dif­fer­ent Depart­ment of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Janet finds upon her re­turn. New al­liances have been formed, most no­tably with tough, prag­matic cop Jack Riz­zoli ( Vince Colosimo), and new play­ers, such as the am­bi­tious Owen Ram­sey ( Damian Wal­she- Howl­ing), have en­tered the arena.

And af­ter Janet’s first case has an un­for­tu­nate out­come, she is hell- bent on con­vict­ing Steven Blakely ( John Howard), a high­rank­ing cop who claims to have ac­ci­den­tally killed his ter­mi­nally- ill wife af­ter giv­ing her a lethal dose of painkillers.

The en­su­ing case quickly goes from com­pli­cated to down­right dan­ger­ous, how­ever, and Janet finds her­self en­tan­gled in a con­spir­acy that, in Dus­sel­dorp’s words, “changes her life for­ever”.

While she is un­der­stand­ably tight- lipped about the de­vel­op­ments later in the se­ries, Dus­sel­dorp does say events mid­way through “rip Janet down to the core”.

While the ti­tle of the se­ries is Janet King, and the story does place some em­pha­sis on the char­ac­ter’s pro­fes­sional and per­sonal life, it is very much an en­sem­ble piece, with many of Janet’s col­leagues from

Crown­ies re­turn­ing to fight the good fight along­side her.

“I wanted to show the dif­fer­ent shades of Janet as much as I could, and I’m re­ally glad the fam­ily stuff has come up as much as it has. People can iden­tify with her as a mother as well as a pros­e­cu­tor, and that was the big change,” Dus­sel­dorp said.

“But each char­ac­ter has their own story and then there are these guest stars bring­ing their own in­di­vid­ual flavour to it as well.

“So there’s a lot to of­fer over the eight episodes and I think that’s re­ally im­por­tant, that ev­ery­one is as strong as each other. They all have such won­der­ful light and shade, and we all try to push it in dif­fer­ent ways.

“It was great to watch ev­ery­one de­velop some­thing that could nat­u­rally spin off from Crown­ies. There was a lot of time and en­ergy spent in cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of show. But with ev­ery­one com­ing back, it was al­most like we’d never left.”

Janet King, pre­mieres tonight, 8.30pm, on ABC1

Hold­ing court

Marta Dus­sel­dorp

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