Is Ten’s drama Sisters the new Offspring?
CHANNEL Ten is no doubt hoping new drama Sisters will replace Offspring in viewers’ affections.
But fans will need to open their hearts wide to embrace this extensive modern family.
The series comes from Offspring creator Imogen Banks, whose track record includes Gallipoli, Party Tricks and The Beautiful Lie.
In Sisters, Julia Bechly (Maria Angelico) is an only child, nursing her sick father (Barry Otto). On his deathbed, the fertility scientist admits he used his sperm in hundreds of IVF pregnancies. Suddenly, Julia has siblings – lots of them.
While the supporting cast includes Aussie TV royalty – Otto, Magda Szubanski and Roy Billing – the three leads aren’t yet household names.
Lucy Durack is the best known of the group for her theatre work and small roles in Nine’s Doctor Doctor and the ABC’s upcoming comedy The Letdown.
Durack, who plays “hot mess” Roxy, reckons Banks used “magic” to cast the core group of three sisters.
“She files away all these different people in her mind then puts them all together in her cauldron,” she says.
“Abracadabra, here’s a TV show.”
Banks is more practical, describing the casting process as “like air traffic control”. “You’ve got all these different idea planes in your brain and you’re trying to figure out how they work in sync,” she says.
“Lucy Durack and I had been having conversations – she’s very active in her career and she was looking for opportunities. I really wanted to work with her.”
Next came Angelico, who Banks saw in a web series.
“I immediately got that slight hysteria, like, ‘ This girl needs to be on television – she is a show’,” Banks says.
Antonia Prebble, wellknown in New Zealand, was the third piece of the puzzle.
“The beauty of having these three very different women is there’s room for people to feel different things about each of them at different times,” Banks says. “They might start loving one then find them annoying.”
Excited to be working with industry veterans, the three leads all say they were most star-struck by Szubanski.
Angelico, in particular, got carried away when they met.
“I was obsessed with Big Girl’s Blouse when I was younger, I love seeing women being funny,” she says.
“I’m one of three girls and we would do our own skits from Big Girls’ Blouse … when I first met her on set I thought I’d be really cool and I just started running through skits … but Magda was awesome and went with it. I hope she wasn’t thinking I’m a nutter.”
While Offspring’s seventh season came to a satisfying conclusion in September, Banks will never say never on ending the show.
“That’s an open question,” she says. “It’s always interesting to know where there’s life in it, and appetite.
“The fans are generally there. It’s been a really interesting process bringing it back [the series was cancelled after five seasons, then brought back by popular demand] and it’s such a high-stakes process for everybody involved. It’s a big decision to do it.
“You want to honour the show, you want to honour the premise, you want to honour the friendships. Everybody, all the people who’ve worked on it since the beginning who have a relationship with the show … it sort of becomes its own thing.
“Once you’ve made a couple of seasons of it, it doesn’t belong to anybody.
“It becomes its own universe. And I work with the masters of that universe.”
Family ties: Antonia Prebble, Maria Angelico and Lucy Durack play the daughters of Barry Otto in Sisters.