Mcleod's Daughters: articles
Boys beef up the action
It’s ironic that for a show called McLeod’s Daughters, a lot of the on-screen attention seems to be turned towards the blokes of late.
The eponymous girls are still running the farm they inherited five seasons (and one telemovie) ago, but the basic premise that they don’t need men to help them doesn’t seem to be holding true for TV-land.
Handsome farmers stroll through almost every scene, flexing muscles, smiling winningly and generally stealing hearts at a rate that would make a jolly swagman proud.
The show about girls seems to have been taken over by a show about guys. Good-looking ones, at that.
Could it be that the show that once fought to stay serious in the face of an executive hint that it might do better as “Baywatch with horses” is sexing things up a bit?
Not quite, insists series creator and executive producer Posie Graeme-Evans, it’s more an acknowledgement that the show needs strong men to balance its strong women.
“It’ll always be about a bunch of women running a farm and there will always be McLeod women at Drovers Run [the McLeods’ farm], that’s the core of the show and what gives it it’s great strength and validity - but, we do need strong male characters to be a foil to the strong women. I mean, we’re not making a country version of St Trinian’s here!
“And these blokes are real blokes, which we knew from the very beginning would have to be the case.
“We wanted people who are indelible on screen whatever sex they are ... and they are because of the care that was taken in assembling the cast right from the start.”
McLeod’s Daughters is renowned in the television industry, Graeme-Evans said, for the time it took to fill the male roles, with “almost every male actor in every major city” considered.
“It worked, though. We have a real range of men here who really allow us to take the story places it couldn’t go with just women.”
They certainly allow the series to be promoted in a way it couldn’t without them. In America, for example, one cable network aimed at women advertises the drama with a picture of a shirtless cowboy and the words “100 Per Cent Australian Beef” across his chest.
Then again, this could be excused as a continuation of the McLeod’s export-minded savvy in showing Australia and Australians in as good a light as possible.
“It’s funny, when I think about Australian television that has gone overseas I can’t remember anything since maybe A Country Practice which showed off the land in all its glory,” said Jonny Pasvolsky, who plays the newest addition to the show, Rob Shelton. “It’s like the land is a character.
“We’re out here in the beautiful countryside north of Adelaide, we’re riding horses and motorbikes, going on fishing trips. I guess it’s a very idyllic version of country life and that’s sure to be attractive to people.”
The guys in question, he said, have no doubt they’re a lot more than window dressing, with almost all the major storylines shared by by both sexes.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like the guys are add-ons,” Pasvolsky said, “but sure, when I started, the first question for about 99 per cent of people was ‘So, who’s love interest are you?’.”
And, again ironically, so far at least he’s very much a character on his own.
Rob arrived at Drovers Run to add a new element to the drama of the show, with secrets that will change the existing storylines for months to come.
Any romance looks a long way off, and that’s fine by Pasvolsky.
“Conflict is drama and there’s always a certain form of conflict having a new guy arrive in an established situation,” he said.
“And it’s great as an actor to be able to play that rather than just be, as my dad used to say, playing the dung in the camel scene.
“You always want to have as much time as you need for a character to be born and come into his own and we have that room here.
“Rob brings this great ‘opposite energy’ into the show, which is always good for drama. I’ve had to be very close-lipped about him, but I can say there’s some very interesting times ahead.”
By Scott Ellis
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