SPIES LIKE US

Aussie fave Jac­que­line McKen­zie tells us what she can about the stealthy go­ings-on at our top-se­cret out­back cloakand-dag­ger fa­cil­ity that’s at the heart of her new drama

TV Soap - - Pine Gap - PINE GAP IN­TER­VIEW

Jac­que­line McKen­zie is en­vi­ous. the Aussie ac­tress is jeal­ous that

TV SOAP has al­ready seen the first two eps of her new show Pine Gap. And she should be. Pine

Gap looks for all the world like a fan­tas­tic spy thriller, full of ac­tion, in­ter­na­tional in­trigue, ro­mance and be­trayal, in­spired by life in one of the most im­por­tant spy bases on Earth. In the first episode a civil­ian plane is shot down by ter­ror­ists near an APEc sum­mit fea­tur­ing the US Pres­i­dent and the Aus­tralian PM. the in­ter­na­tional staff at Pine Gap – co-led by Kath Sin­clair (Jac­que­line McKen­zie) – must find out who did it… and why.

Jac­que­line, who won a Sil­ver Lo­gie this year for Most out­stand­ing Sup­port­ing Ac­tress for Rom­per Stom­per, re­veals what she can about the six-part joint ABc/Net­flix pro­duc­tion.

Tell us about your char­ac­ter, Kath.

She’s the head of the Aus­tralian side of the joint fa­cil­ity at Pine Gap. She’s tough and in­tel­li­gent and ball-break­ing. She can go head to head with the tough­est in the room and win. She’s a force to be reck­oned with and loves her work. She’s not ter­ri­bly lucky in love at the mo­ment, but that’s not her fo­cus.

What did you dis­cover about the real-life Pine Gap in your prep for the role? What ex­actly do they do out there?

I couldn’t be­lieve the breadth of what they can do there: it’s in­ter­net and tele­phone com­mu­ni­ca­tions all over Asia and china, the Mid­dle East and Eastern Europe and all the ter­ri­tory around it. My God, it’s phe­nom­e­nal. they can fig­ure out if a mis­sile has been launched in any of those ar­eas and can lis­ten into phone calls in any of those ar­eas. It’s a mas­sive en­deav­our. It’s one of the most im­por­tant spy bases out­side of Amer­ica. they can fol­low you all the way back from Alice Springs.

Some of the peo­ple who work at your fic­tional Pine Gap are pretty young. Would it be daunt­ing be­ing that young and sup­ply­ing in­for­ma­tion that could lead to a drone strike?

I think no mat­ter what the pro­fes­sion, some­times the younger you are the more fear­less you are be­cause you don’t un­der­stand the full con­se­quences...

Pine Gap’s been an ob­ject of mys­tery in Aus­tralia for some time.

It sure has. Back in the 1970s and 1980s peo­ple used to protest out there, say­ing it was a spy base and say­ing that we’re just pup­pets for the Amer­i­cans and it should be shut down, and it en­dan­gers us by hav­ing a fa­cil­ity there that serves the Amer­i­cans and prob­a­bly doesn’t serve us. But in our story and in our re­search… it im­por­tantly serves us as well; it is a joint fa­cil­ity. I guess in the old days they weren’t be­ing hon­est about what was go­ing on there.

I guess be­cause it’s a joint fa­cil­ity it pro­vides good op­por­tu­nity for drama: that both the Aus­tralian and the US sides might have their own dif­fer­ent agen­das.

that’s right – and they do! I think each morn­ing they have a meet­ing where they say, “oK, what are we lis­ten­ing into and what are we watch­ing to­day?” Aus­tralian op­er­a­tives might have their choices of what they want and that might fly in the face of what the Amer­i­cans want to look at that day, and they’ve got to work it out to­gether. Not every­thing is shared, I be­lieve.

It’d be tough dat­ing some­one if your part­ner had to be vet­ted by ASIO!

I think it’d be just eas­ier to date some­one in the sta­ble, to be hon­est… not hav­ing to pre­tend that you don’t work there, not hav­ing to pre­tend you’re a florist or some­thing! How do you meet peo­ple when you’ve got to op­er­ate like that?

It’s ex­cit­ing that Pine Gap is a joint ABC/Net­flix pro­duc­tion. It’s a golden era for TV at the mo­ment.

It’s very ex­cit­ing in Aus­tralia to have th­ese huge gi­ants of world stream­ing like Net­flix and Hulu and Ama­zon work­ing with lo­cal ac­tors, and lo­cal sto­ries be­ing told. It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing for us. tvs Pine Gap de­buts with a dou­ble episode air­ing on the ABC on Oc­to­ber 16, with all episodes then avail­able on ABC iview

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