LIFTING THE LID ON AUSSIES IN THAILAND
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.”
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