Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Posie Graeme-Evans

TV guru turned author Posie Graeme-Evans

Drama queen

POSIE Graeme-Evans gives the impression of being a human dynamo. Her upbeat voice reverberates with energy as she talks about her first book, The Innocent, set in 15th-century England.

"Basically it's about frocks and violence," she jokes.

In 2002, Graeme-Evans was named one of the "20 Most Significant Women in Film and Television", along with Jennifer Aniston and Meryl Streep.

Channel 9's Director of Drama still had time to write a trilogy of historical novels. Two are yet to be released.

That her books are set in England is not surprising, for Graeme-Evans was born there. Her father was a Spitfire pilot and her mother a novelist who had three books published by the time she was 25.

The family emigrated to Tasmania when she was 14.

"And I've boomeranged in and out of Australia all my life," she says.

The young Posie topped the state in Ancient History, before setting out to explore real life with her first husband, a potter, on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Eventually living in a tent lost its appeal and she got a job at Television NZ in Auckland, as an assistant floor manager.

The station was developing a new drama called A Going Concern. "It was set, of all places, in a plastics factory," she says. "Imagine trying to pitch that these days."

Graeme-Evans convulses with laughter. The producers were looking for scripts so she submitted one and was told she wrote "great phone scenes".

Returning to Tasmania, she joined the Tasmanian Film Corporation as an assistant sound and picture editor.

There were kids' dramas and a feature film, Manganinnie, about a friendship between an Aboriginal woman and a settler's daughter. Then the ABC offered her one of eight producers and directors traineeships.

The intake included Helena Harris, the future producer of Bananas in Pyjamas who was to play an important role in Graeme-Evans's life later on.

Graeme-Evans is responsible for creating the popular television series McLeod's Daughters. She sums this up as being, "a feminist Bonanza with gags".

Together they created Hi-5, the successful children's show that she describes as "The Spice Girls do education".

Graeme-Evans has produced hundreds of hours of drama for television, many with husband Andrew Blaxland for their company Millennium Pictures. She and her husband had their own daughters who they brought to the marriage. Curiously, both are called Emma and they share the same birthday. It must make dinner time fairly complicated.

Graeme-Evans is responsible for creating the popular television series McLeod's Daughters. She sums this up as being, "a feminist Bonanza with gags".

Despite having had a very full life and successful career, Posie Graeme-Evans embarked on a new challenge. "In the mid 1990s I was bored on production in Adelaide," she says.

"The first sentence of the book (The Innocent) just came to me. I was intrigued. I had no idea what the story was about. People popped up on the pages fully formed, but the first hundred pages took me two years to write."

A friend who was an agent had a look and said, "There's a book here, get on with it."

How, in her busy schedule, did she manage to finish it? "I wrote on Sunday afternoons. I still do. It took me another couple of years."

Set in 1465, The Innocent is the story of Anne, a 15-year-old girl of mysterious origins, who takes a position as a servant girl in a wealthy household and attracts the ardent attention of King Edward IV. The way that Anne deals with this, and the unforeseen complications, are the threads that bind the trilogy.

"What you are at 15 isn't necessarily what you are at 50," Graeme-Evans says. "But the seed is there. It's about the growth of one woman into a formidable individual in that world, who develops strength as she grows older.

"That is what we all do. If you survive, you must find strength. There is real love in this woman and she is a risk taker, with the guts to walk away."

She says she sets the story in the 15th century because "it's the last gasp of the feudal world.

"When the Tudors came along, got into administration and it became boring."

The Innocent could not be described as boring. It has some pretty raunchy scenes and includes a sado-masochistic relationship.

"I surprised myself writing that stuff," Graeme-Evans says.

"I didn't want my mother to read it. My husband said that I should publish it under a pseudonym, or I would never work again. But it felt legitimate to me to do it. I had to have lived a life to write it.

"I am fascinated by the operation of power and what the person who has no power can do to deal with it."

There are some beautifully drawn characters, including minor ones who flesh out the dark corners. Like Corpus, a strange wizened dwarf.

"He is utterly evil, but he became that way because of the time he lives in," she says.

The book has such a strong sense of the visual, it is easy to imagine it as a film. But Graeme-Evans says she didn't want to think of it like that.

"I didn't want to fight what I know you can't do. Writing a book is very freeing in comparison with scriptwriting, where everything has to be plotted in advance. Because I've done scripts for years and years it was wonderful to work in a different medium."

On the surface there are similarities with the themes of McLeod's Daughters.

Capable women, family allegiances, fighting over territory—not to mention horses. The only thing missing are the fabulous frocks.

By Suzanna Clarke
March 05, 2005
The Courier Mail