LIFTING THE LID ON AUSSIES IN THAI­LAND

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - TV GUIDE - Deb­bie Schipp

FROM the hap­less bloke who has lost his money, pass­port and sev­eral hours to al­co­hol and a ladyboy, to the heart­break­ing trip home for a fam­ily with the body of a child who has died over­seas, The Em­bassy lifts the lid on the lives of Aus­tralians in Thai­land.

Set in one of Aus­tralia’s busiest em­bassies, the se­ries was five years in the plan­ning, ex­plain pro­duc­ers Lau­rie Critch­ley and Craig Gra­ham.

“I think there’s been a real in­ter­est in what hap­pens in our em­bassies for a very long time,” says Critch­ley.

“When you travel that pass­port is our iden­tity as Aus­tralians and we wanted to in­ves­ti­gate what does that mean and what does it en­ti­tle us to. And just as im­por­tantly what doesn’t it en­ti­tle us to?”

One woman who knows ex­actly that is Trudy McGowan – the Aus­tralian Em­bassy in Bangkok’s First Sec­re­tary and Con­sul. McGowan is forth­right, con­fi­dent and has a ready laugh and an abil­ity to call a spade a spade which might just make her gold TV tal­ent.

She couldn’t be­lieve any­one would be in­ter­ested in a show about life be­hind em­bassy doors.

“One of the things hav­ing the crew film­ing us has been the crew say­ing, ‘Why didn’t you tell us that?’. What we tend to think is run-of-the-mill and bor­ing ap­par­ently is good TV,” McGowan says.

Critch­ley says the hard thing about four months film­ing “was know­ing when to stop’’.

“You have the hol­i­day­maker in Phuket who has just come for a week, you have peo­ple who have lived here for a long time, you have ex­pa­tri­ates who are work­ing, the in­no­cent hon­ey­mooner, the sea­soned trav­eller, the Aus­tralians who have been com­ing for a lot of years and have fam­i­lies here,” he says.

And, you can never pre­dict which of those groups will end up at the em­bassy.

“Some­times be­cause we made a mis­take, or we could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time or you are OS when some­thing tragic hap­pens to your fam­ily – they are all rea­sons we have an em­bassy,” says Critch­ley.

McGowan says among her most dif­fi­cult tasks are jail wel­fare vis­its – about 17 Aus­tralians are cur­rently in cus­tody in Thai­land.

“You just de­tach your­self from what it is that they have done wrong,” she says.

“But it’s hard see­ing re­ally good peo­ple who did noth­ing wrong go through hor­ri­ble, heart-wrench­ing events. … their child dy­ing, or be­ing caught up in a boat crash.”

THE EM­BASSY

TONIGHT, 6.30PM, NINE

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