Lee is currently in the US on leave but has had extensive meetings with Bower who worked with him on All Saints. Bower, a writer-producer, has a long history with series and serials with credits including Neighbours, McLeod’s Daughters (both as exec producer) and Sea Patrol. Series Producer of Seasons 1 and 2 Chris Martin-Jones will return.
Lee will remain a consultant and Creator.
“I was really surprised when (Seven’s) John Holmes rang me and said they need a Script Producer. I said ‘Where’s Bevan?’ and he said ‘Bevan is on Leave,'” Bower told TV Tonight.
“Bevan and I had several hours talking about it because I wanted his vision. He was also incredibly generous saying ‘It’s yours now, and you need to take it where it has to go.’”
Seven has cited the expense of the show and it not hitting ‘the sweet spot’ as part of its decision to axe the show, but Foxtel is understood to be interested in its potential to lure new and older subscribers.
Lee, who also created Packed to the Rafters, Winners and Losers and Always Greener, is also exploring US opportunities.
“I know that he was asked to go to LA and that’s where he is now. The word is out that this man has developed all these long-running television shows,” she said.
“Bevan has huge, big ideas and they hit a chord with the audience. So it’s not hard to imagine why LA would want him there.”
Lee had outlined a third season for Seven when the network chose not to proceed, which now forms the basis of the upcoming season on Foxtel. Writing for the third season are Katherine Thomson, Sarah Lambert, David Hannam and Giula Sandler.
“I’ve introduced the Writer’s Room, or a hybrid of. So there are a group of writers who will take the episodes we have developed, using quite a lot of Bevan’s material,” Bower said.
“(The writers were saying) ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ They were wanting to work with rich, luscious dialogue and those highly-drawn characters and a cast who can ground it.
“The feedback from fans was they loved costumes, the sets, the era, the characters and actors but they loved the twists and the turns of the story. So I’m very mindful of that.”
Moving from Free to Air to Subscription Television brings with it new challenges, including an unaired cliffhanger, an edgier tone, and projecting character arcs into a fourth season. All of the cast are secured for Season 3 but it is yet to be determined which characters will proceed to Season 4.
“I’ve had to give it more forward momentum,” Bower explained.
“I have to open everything up. Bevan left us with quite a cliffhanger that wasn’t shown on Channel Seven but will be shown on Foxtel. Things you have never seen before!”
Filming will begin in April and will air exclusively on Foxtel next year, preceded by Seasons 1 and 2.
“It’s a privilege that Bevan put my name forward, but I feel I can do it justice and I will work very hard to keep it going in his name.”