Get the low down

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - TIM MARTAIN

THE line be­tween art im­i­tat­ing life and life im­i­tat­ing art has be­come a blurry one for ABC com­edy se­ries Low­down.

Sea­son two of this jour­nal­ism- based com­edy be­gins on ABC1 this Thurs­day.

Co- cre­ator/ co- writer Adam Zwar has had a rich two years of ma­te­rial to draw on since the first sea­son went to air.

But oc­ca­sion­ally the sto­ries ended up pre- empt­ing the news, rather than satiris­ing it.

‘‘ We started writ­ing down ideas in 2010 and started film­ing them in early 2011,’’ Zwar said. ‘‘ Episode two deals with phone- hack­ing and we al­ready had that one writ­ten be­fore the de­tails of the Sun­day Sun scan­dal started com­ing to light, so we had to keep seed­ing new things in there.’’

Low­down fol­lows the eth­i­cally du­bi­ous ca­reer of tabloid news­pa­per re­porter Alex Burchill ( Zwar) and his loyal pho­tog­ra­pher col­league Bob ( played by Paul Denny).

Mel­bourne tabloid The Sun­day Sun is in a cir­cu­la­tion slump and the new ed­i­tor needs some­thing big to prop things up again. Burchill is con­fi­dent he can come up with the goods.

As much as this is a se­ries about jour­nal­ism and the dodgy prac­tices of some who in­habit that world Zwar, him­self a for­mer Her­ald- Sun jour­nal­ist, in­sists Low­down is not in­tended to satirise jour­nal­ism, rather it is more about re­la­tion­ships with jour­nal­ism as the back­ground.

‘‘ It’s an af­fec­tion­ate take on jour­nal­ism as op­posed to por­tray­ing jour­nal­ists as mous­tache- twirling vil­lains,’’ he says. ‘‘ When Alex does some­thing wrong the karma bus hits him straight away.

‘‘ I still have friends in the in­dus­try and they love it, they’ve em­braced it, and the news­pa­per in our show is more like one of those British red- tops than any­thing you’re likely to find in Aus­tralia.’’

That sim­i­lar­ity to its British red- top cousins has led to Low­down be­ing em­braced in the UK as well, with a great au­di­ence re­sponse to sea­son one’s re­cent air­ing on BBC4.

‘‘ The fact that our pa­per has the same name as the new Sun­day Sun in Lon­don prob­a­bly helped as well,’’ Zwar says.

But there was a hitch. ‘‘ It was go­ing to go to air the year be­fore on BBC but then Amy Wine­house died and there’s an episode in sea­son one with a char­ac­ter based on Amy Wine­house, it’s not hard to work out who it’s based on.

‘‘ So they de­cided to put the show off for six months and then the whole News of the World scan­dal hap­pened in the UK, so I guess that hap­pened at the right time for us.’’

Ob­vi­ous events aside, Zwar says jour­nal­ism is a great ‘‘ story engine’’ for a tele­vi­sion se­ries.

‘‘ When you look at tele­vi­sion, po­lice shows and med­i­cal shows are the two pro­ce­du­rals that peo­ple fo­cus on be­cause they have these great story en­gines, there’s al­ways some­thing dra­matic hap­pen­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘ But when you think about it, jour­nal­ism has a great story engine, too, just think about all the dif­fer­ent sto­ries a re­porter might cover in a day.’’

In episode one, Burchill lands the scoop that might save the pa­per: nude pho­tos of a prom­i­nent politi­cian.

TABLOID TALE: Adam Zwar ( left) with Kim Gyn­gell who starred in the first se­ries.

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