Voice of reason on foreign soil
SHE’S the breakout star of Channel Nine’s factual reality series The Embassy, but Trudy McGowan’s time as First Secretary and Consul in the Australian embassy in Bangkok is almost up.
Australian staff can spend only three years at each overseas posting, so McGowan’s tenure will end early in 2015. Which means viewers should soak up her forthright wisdom and cool, witty summations as the show ends its first run.
McGowan has enjoyed seeing the embassy’s work showcased on television – although she and her colleagues initially weren’t the biggest help in identifying stories.
“We’d deal with something we see as routine, and at the end of the day one of the film crew would say, ‘Why didn’t you tell us that?’,” McGowan laughs.
McGowan hopes Aussies have learned a few vital points from watching the show – including what an embassy can and can’t do for Aussies in trouble.
“There’s no magic money bag. A lot of our job is helping people help themselves,” she says.
“We can be the cool voice of logic, but we also need a good bullshit antenna – absolutely – it only takes two or three weeks in Bangkok before that’s developed.”
Tonight’s episode features the Embassy’s Australia Day party, but McGowan says these events are the exception, not the rule.
“The reality isn’t cocktail parties. There is way less schmoozing than people think,” she says.
Her advice to Aussie tourists in Thailand?
“Don’t do things on holidays that you would not do at home,” she says.
“Don’t think you can ride a motorbike without a helmet or a licence, or stop taking the medication you always take at home.”
Straight shooter: Trudy McGowan.