Get the low down
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.