Death In He aven

In­sights into is­land life

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Kyle’s tat­too hasn’t just been de­signed to look cool, it has real world res­o­nance too. “The tat­toos have been cre­ated specif­i­cally for the show and for the point of the story,” says Za­jdlic. “They’ve been care­fully cho­sen with a lot of ex­pert help from the Tahun­gas, who are mas­ter tat­tooists down in New Zealand, which has been in­valu­able. Tat­toos are an in­te­gral part of Maori cul­ture and an in­te­gral part of their iden­tity and each one means some­thing, so it’s im­por­tant that is recog­nised and re­spected and val­ued.”

Nee­dle Work


Af­ter sport­ing some im­pres­sive body art dur­ing film­ing, was Lay­ton tempted to get his own tatau? “The first thing that my mum and dad said to me was, ‘ Just be­cause you’ve got this job we don’t want to see you com­ing back with a Maori tat­too’! I wouldn’t get a Maori tat­too be­cause I’m not a Maori. I was re­ally lean­ing to­wards get­ting a dif­fer­ent tat­too at the end be­cause it seemed fit­ting, but I didn’t have the balls to do it. My par­ents will be pleased, but there’ll be trou­ble if we get a sec­ond se­ries!”

Tat ’s Ent erta in­ment


There may be dark days ahead for Kyle and Budgie, but Za­jdlic is keen to em­pha­sise the show’s rich vein of hu­mour. “There’s a lot of scep­ti­cism and a bit of ridicule that I think is pretty nat­u­ral when you’re pre­sented with th­ese things. Budgie par­tic­u­larly is a counter- punch­ing char­ac­ter in terms of ‘ keep­ing it real, guys’. Hope­fully it has that mix­ture of be­ing very en­ter­tain­ing but also very in­volv­ing in an ex­cit­ing way as the stakes grow.”

Myth Mak­ers


Tatau will draw on a va­ri­ety of real Maori myths, but the writer is keep­ing his cards close to his chest as to which. “There is one, which I don’t want to go into too much,” says Za­jdlic. There’s a whole wealth of them. A lot of them are parables and metaphors for real- life events, much like Chris­tian­ity, which I ad­dress in the se­ries as well. There’s a myth that’s brought up that is dis­missed as merely a metaphor, and in some cases you can read it like that, but per­haps there’s some­thing else to it as well.”

“It’s not like Lost that just went on for­ever, it’s a full arc of a story”

Cook Is­lands with Maori ac­tors fill­ing out the sup­port­ing roles – a level of au­then­tic­ity Za­jdlic be­lieves was in­te­gral for Tatau to work. “It’s about two English guys who are fish out of wa­ter and com­pletely out of their depth, and you can’t re­ally do that in Lyme Regis. Well, maybe you could, but it’s a dif­fer­ent show!

“Those trop­i­cal lands are pre­sented to us in a very idyl­lic way; they’re hon­ey­moon re­sorts, but there’s a much darker un­der­stream with the myths and leg­ends. It’s a very in­ter­est­ing area be­cause the mis­sion­ar­ies went there, so you have the deep is­land cul­ture over­laid by a patina of Chris­tian­ity which is still very strong on the is­land. It seemed like a re­ally rich area to ex­plore.”

For lead­ing man Lay­ton, who grad­u­ated from drama school just a year be­fore be­ing cast in the show, Kyle proved a dream break­out role. “There are so many dif­fer­ent facets to the char­ac­ter. He’s not just your stan­dard young ro­man­tic lead. He’s not just an ac­tion hero. He’s re­ally well- rounded and well- writ­ten,” Lay­ton says. “It’s the flaws of the char­ac­ter that come out as the se­ries de­vel­ops that made him so in­ter­est­ing to play. He’s an or­di­nary guy who gets caught up in an ex­treme set of cir­cum­stances.”

As for Budgie, he quickly gains a rep­u­ta­tion for putting his foot in things with the lo­cals ( or in Lay­ton’s words, “for be­ing a bit of a mug”). But how do th­ese two Lon­don lads re­act to the fact that the leg­ends of a cul­ture on the other side of the world are real?

“To begin with not very well at all!” says Lay­ton. “But they slowly begin to re­alise the enor­mity of what they’re deal­ing with and that they have to pull to­gether. It’s a re­ally great ob­ser­va­tion of friend­ship be­cause they’re re­lat­able to the way you would re­act. Richard’s ob­ser­va­tions of the cul­ture and the way th­ese peo­ple live is just how you see it as well. He cap­tures it bril­liantly be­cause there are so few peo­ple on this is­land and if there’s a mur­der every­body’s go­ing to know about it. Budgie and Kyle re­ally find them­selves thrown in at the deep end.”

Pri­mar­ily, the pair rub up against Te­muera “Jango Fett” Mor­ri­son’s Anaru – the Vaip­iti fam­ily pa­tri­arch whose daugh­ter Aumea ( Shushila Takao) makes a mirac­u­lous re­turn from a wa­tery grave. “Tem’s ac­tu­ally quite high in Maori so­ci­ety in real life,” Za­jdlic ex­plains. “He’s very much a leader of men and in the show he plays the fa­ther of the main Maori fam­ily. Kyle is heav­ily in­volved with the daugh­ter but also the son, who does not like Kyle at all. He’s try­ing to pro­tect his chil­dren and guide his fam­ily, but with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.”

And un­like a cer­tain other trop­i­cal is­land- based show Za­jdlic plans to tell a com­plete tale with this first se­ries.

“It’s not like Lost that just went on for­ever and had no idea where it was go­ing, it’s a full arc of a story. But with a mas­sive spring­board for the po­ten­tial, be­cause Kyle is grow­ing through­out the se­ries, he gets an­other tat­too which means some­thing else. Peo­ple trav­el­ling to dif­fer­ent cul­tures is in the DNA of the show, so you can see how it can con­tinue. That said, if you tune in at the be­gin­ning, at the end you get the story told, it doesn’t leave you hang­ing.”

Tatau airs on BBC Three from early April.

The Amer­i­can Were­wolf In Lon­don pub scene, but in a Maori church?

In case you were won­der­ing why the show had this ti­tle. sci- fact! Ben Kings­ley played halfMaori Mazer Rack­ham in

En­der’s Game, and sported full face tat­toos.

Kyle ( Joe Lay­ton) is a fish out of wa­ter in a strange land.

Tyler ( Tai Berdinner- Blades): wait­ing on a friend?

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