Strike while iron’s hot
SOUTHERN Cross’s new Sunday night action series Strike Back has had a charmed life.
Now screening around the world, it was initially pitched to Sky in the UK by a producer who’d barely glanced at the blurb on the back of former SAS soldier Chris Ryan’s original novel.
‘‘ What attracted me to the book was a Sky reporter gets kidnapped by Muslim hoodlums, so I thought it was a good pitch for Sky,’’ Andy Harries recalled later.
The channel wanted something to compete with high- octane US dramas such as 24 and commissioned a sixpart series starring Richard Armitage ( Spooks) and Andrew Lincoln ( The Walking Dead).
It became an immediate hit, tripling the channel’s average audience figures, but by the time season two was greenlit in a co- production deal with Cinemax in the US, Armitage was working on The Hobbit and Lincoln was starring in his zombie show.
The makers had to go back to the drawing board.
‘‘ It was great,’’ said Frank Spotnitz ( The X- Files ), who was brought in to help, of the revamp.
‘‘ We had this great format and then we had to imagine who the new characters were who were going to drive the show in its second year.’’
Phillip Winchester ( Camelot ) was brought in to play disciplined British soldier Sgt Michael Stonebridge of MI6.
Aussie actor Sullivan Stapleton ( Animal Kingdom, pictured), was given the gig as disgraced American operative Damian Scott.
The show has a ‘‘ Spooks meets buddy cop’’ flavour.
Southern Cross, Sunday, 8.30pm