After a 7 season run with Offspring Kat Stewart was just waiting for a project like Five Bedrooms to make her series return.
As luck would have it, the project is the creation of two Offspring writers, Michael Lucas and Christine Bartlett. It was a match made in TV script heaven.
“Offspring was the gift that kept giving and I loved it so much. I didn’t want to come back with something that I wasn’t really excited about. I’m not pretending the phone was ringing off the hook with a million offers, but I wanted to hold out for something I was really excited about,” she tells TV Tonight.
“But that was hard, because I like working.
“I was aware this was cooking away but it was lovely to be asked to be a part of it, because the team is so good and the scripts are fantastic.
“What it has in common is a generosity of spirit.”
“They manage to balance the heart with believable characters and unique voices. It’s a fresh take on what’s going on in the world at the moment. It’s very different to Offspring but what it has in common is a generosity of spirit.”
The Hoodlum Entertainment series centres around a disparate group at a singles table at a wedding who decide to purchase property together and move in.
“It’s quite an odd combination of people and they’re surprised to be together at a dinner table, let alone buying real estate together,” Stewart admits.
“But it’s that idea that our ‘family’ isn’t necessarily our blood family in life. And also finding yourself at a point in your life you didn’t expect to get to.”
“Liz has a lot of ‘status anxiety.’”
Stewart plays family lawyer Liz, 42, alongside fellow cast members Stephen Peacocke, Roy Joseph, Doris Younane, Katie Robertson, Kate Jenkinson and Hugh Sheridan.
“Liz has a lot of ‘status anxiety.’ She’s built her life by doing things by the book, and really cares about what people think about her. She’s been a very successful lawyer and planned to retire by 45.
“But she got caught up in that world and the marriage has fallen apart, the assets have been split and now she finds herself moving in with her best friend Harry and 3 other people she doesn’t like.
“She wants to get her life back, the life that she has fought for. She’s working very hard to nail that, so she sees this very much as a temporary measure. It’s not a touchy, feely commune, this is a financial decision.”
Stewart is known for imbuing her characters with comedy and drama and for making them so believable. Yet when it comes to house sharing, her personal life is nothing like that of her character.
“I’ve never done this and neither has Liz. She’s horrified that Ben is so relaxed about clothing and hygiene.
“So this is a real learning curve for her.”
“It’s not cookie-cutter”
Filming took place in eastern Melbourne and the project already has a UK broadcaster attached. It leads a new push by 10 drama which has completed filming My Life is Murder and has more Playing For Keeps and miniseries The Secrets She Keeps to come.
Stewart is optimistic Five Bedrooms will find a loyal audience who connect with the show’s deliberately-motley crew.
“They are flawed but fundamentally good. But it’s not cookie-cutter, or something quite like anything I’ve seen before. So it feels fresh and smart.”
Five Bedrooms begins 8:40pm tonight on 10.