Strike while iron’s hot

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - AN­DREW FEN­TON

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.

STRIKE BACK,

South­ern Cross, Sun­day, 8.30pm

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