THE LAST WORD... ‘ It came from think­ing about John Howard house’ when he went back into his old


The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - WATCH ON PRESTO - WithColinVick­ery

“WE have a lovely group of for­mer prime min­is­ters now – Kevin Rudd, Ju­lia Gil­lard, Tony Ab­bott. We even have one for­mer PM who is twice a PM (Rudd).

The temp­ta­tion for me was to go to him (for in­spi­ra­tion) be­cause he’s got grey hair and glasses like me. But my char­ac­ter, An­drew Dug­dale, is not based on any one par­tic­u­lar for­mer prime min­is­ter. It is an at­tempt to com­bine a whole bunch of them, I sup­pose.

The show is about a bi­og­ra­pher, Ellen (Lucy Honig­man), say­ing to Dudgale, ‘Let’s look at your life’ so she can ghost write his mem­oirs but there’s noth­ing to look at. So he’s a bit re­luc­tant to do it.

The idea for the show came in 2008 from think­ing about John Howard when he went back into his old house (af­ter los­ing the 2007 elec­tion). He didn’t move on from The Lodge to a like en­vi­ron­ment. He was per­fectly happy to move back to his old house. He al­ways used to say that he viewed him­self as a public ser­vant. There is some­thing very hum­bling about that.

We don’t want to nom­i­nate which side (Lib­eral or La­bor) Dug­dale is on. Oth­er­wise it be­comes about pol­i­tics and it’s not re­ally about pol­i­tics. It is about the po­lit­i­cal an­i­mal but it’s not about sides.

There is a line in the first episode which says ‘you com­pro­mise on strat­egy, you never com­pro­mise on prin­ci­ple’ but that isn’t al­ways the case. Where do you draw the line?

That theme has ob­vi­ously been ex­plored be­fore in shows like Yes Min­is­ter as well as Work­ing Dog’s The Hol­low­men and Utopia. But our show is also about fam­ily and par­ent­hood – the things you give up (to be prime min­is­ter).

We have put Dug­dale’s chief of staff Sonny (Ni­cholas Bell) and his driver Curtis (Fran­cis Greenslade) into his home with wife Cather­ine (Nicki Wendt) and daugh­ter Carol (Kate Jenk­in­son) be­cause we thought that would make a great sit­com en­vi­ron­ment.

The rea­son The Ex-PM has taken a while to get made is be­cause I hosted Talkin’ ’Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion. I think it would have been a very dif­fer­ent show if we had made it when we first had the idea.

The ben­e­fit of re­vis­it­ing it af­ter a large in­ter­val is that I’m able to be far more ob­jec­tive than if it was up in six months. I tend to be very pro­tec­tive of some­thing (early on). Over time we made some changes and the end re­sult is a sit­com with re­ally in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ters. They might not have been as in­ter­est­ing if we’d made it back in 2008.

It is a com­edy but An­drew Dug­dale has to be a be­liev­able propo­si­tion as a prime min­is­ter. He needed to have a good voice. If he had to give a speech he had to be con­fi­dent. He couldn’t be an idiot in that re­gard.” THE EX-PM WED­NES­DAY, 9.05PM, ABC

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