He has made some of the country’s top dramas, Offspring, Paper Giants, Howzat!, Love My Way, Puberty Blues, The Secret Life of Us and Police Rescue, but producer John Edwards admits it is impossible to predict what audiences will want.
But there are no guarantees.
The Beautiful Lie, co-produced with Imogen Banks, is his latest venture looking to connect with ABC viewers.
“I can never think of audiences monolithically,” he explains.
“They are made up of thousands of different types and subsets. All I can try and focus on is doing a good show, that is hopefully appealing. In this case I just hope people want to go on the journey with Sarah, get hooked in and want to follow this love story.
“I can’t possibly speak for what I think the audience will or won’t do.
“What we’ve tried to do is make a contemporary version of a classic. There’s some risk involved in that, but also some upside. People will either like it or not. It’s pretty good work, I don’t think you can dispute that, but how well it will do I can’t imagine.”
‘Sarah’, is the very versatile Sarah Snook, who stars as retired tennis champ Anna Ivin, in the contemporary reworking of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. She falls for music producer Skeet (Benedict Samuel) at the risk of her marriage to Xander (Rodger Corser).
“She had a small but unbelievably radiant role in Spirited. She just kind of pops. She’s a bit special, that girl,” he insists.
“Sometimes you think it’s just that she’s got something magic –which she has– but the other thing with working with her, there’s 8 beats in a scene and she gets every one of them. She’s an incredibly hard worker, she digs into the text and forensically internalises it and makes the most of every moment.
“I cannot tell you how much I admire her.”
Indeed one of the risks of the story, aside from those associated with reimagining a classic novel, is the unconventional path of the central character. Television traditionally likes us to sympathise with heroic characters.
“The other love stories that emerge and develop are quite markedly different. It really has 6 or 7 love stories overall. One of them is destructive but the others are all incredibly positive,” Edwards says.
“It’s much more than one kind of love. There’s familial love, fraternal love, selfless and altruistic love. All sorts of dimensions get revealed.”
The 6 part series was written by Alice Bell and Jonathan Gavin, originally from Edwards’ idea.
“You have lots of ideas where you would like to tell a some story in a contemporary form. Sometimes you think of bits of Exodus you’d like to do but Watership Down has already done that just about perfectly in my view. There are some fantastic Jesus stories out there but One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and ET are kind of two different Jesus stories. But you do this all the time, this sort of stuff,” he continues.
“Tangle started with us looking at retelling Vanity Fair.
“The funny thing about this was the more we prodded and poked at trying to find contemporary correlates for our characters, the more we found that the psychology of the original story stood up. In fact a lot of the incidents in the stories stood up remarkably better than we’d expected.
“Often you fall in love with the characters and you depart from the original. But on this we found ourselves more and more drawn back to the text.
“The psychology felt to us to be remarkably truthful, and that was what was interesting.”
The Beautiful Lie airs 8:30pm Sundays on ABC.