It’s the question that the movie When Harry Met Sally tried to address: can men and women be friends without sex getting in the way?
And as Rosehaven fans know, it’s an absolute yes. Emma (Celia Pacquola) and Daniel (Luke McGregor) are the best of friends, but there’s no hint of unresolved sexual tension, and anyone waiting for it is in for disappointment.
Actor Kris McQuade says some viewers were waiting for it in the show’s early seasons.
“Everyone said ‘They’re definitely going to get together.’ But they’re never going to get together. That’s the point of this relationship,” she tells TV Tonight.
“They’re mates, best friends, They don’t have to get together.
“It’s almost like Luke & Celia’s friendship”
“It’s almost like Luke & Celia’s friendship. They spend a lot of time together writing that piece, and think each others’ thoughts quite a lot. But they’re definitely not a couple and have very different tastes in relationships.”
McQuade (Wentworth, The Kettering Incident,The Gloaming), who plays Daniel’s mother Barbara, was also asked by fans about her frequently-abrupt demeanour.
“People say to me ‘Why is she such a bitch?’ It’s called tough love!” she insists.
“It’s so funny how many people from different age groups say, ‘You’re a little bit like my mother’ or ‘You’re just like my grandmother.’
“She doesn’t take any shit from Daniel and that’s their relationship”
“I say ‘Good. She does exist.’ I know -I came from tough love. (Barbara’s) real. She calls a spade a spade. She doesn’t take any shit from Daniel and that’s their relationship.”
Series 4 returns to the fictional Tasmanian town, with McCallum Real Estate in a new office. The best friends and workmates are now housemates again too, spending every waking moment together.
Together with Vicki Madden dramas The Kettering Incident and The Gloaming, the ABC comedy has aided a TV renaissance for the southern state, backed by the the state Liberal government.
Filming takes place across Richmond, Geeveston, New Norfolk, Longley, Seven Mile Beach and Cambridge. In addition to using state-based talent and crew, Rosehaven goes to great lengths to include talent hand-picked by Pacquola and McGregor.
“They’ll fly people from all over Australia”
“A lot of the actors who are guests are from stand-up,” she explains. “They’ll fly people from all over Australia, who they’ve worked with in a stand-up situation, just to have them on the show. They don’t really want ‘normal’ actors with egos, drawing attention.”
But the duo are fastidious about scripts, with no improvising happening on set. McQuade has often been flown to Melbourne for script reads in front of an invited audience at the home of executive producer Kevin Whyte, where the comedy is tested for laughs.
“We will do a read of a couple of episodes and Celia & Luke take notes, marking up what works and doesn’t work.
“So by the time you get on the set, the scripts are completely written. You might get rewrites with a comma or a different full-stop.”
“They are the strictest scripts I’ve ever seen for television”
She adds, “They are the strictest scripts I’ve ever seen for television.”
But the seasoned McQuade also admits to having to strike the right comedic balance in the team.
“I said, ‘I don’t know how to sit with you two with your comedy.’ Ages later they told me, ‘You’re not meant to be funny. We didn’t want you to be a comedian. You’re the straight person. You’re the drama.’
“I said, ‘I wish you’d mentioned that right from the beginning!’
“I didn’t understand a word you were saying!”
“The first year Luke was looking at me, waiting (for me to speak). I didn’t even know if he’d finished, because he gabbles so much! I said, ‘I didn’t understand a word you were saying! I didn’t know if you’d got to the end!’
“But in the end, he said ‘It’s all about rhythm.’
“My style of comedy is more on the back foot of the old laconic Australian rhythm, but these young guys have got a very different energy.”
Rosehaven has also enjoyed success in the USA on Sundance, but yet to screen in the UK.
“It’s never been sold to the United Kingdom, which I thought was up their alley. But I think they thought it was too similar to their style of comedy and they didn’t want it? I don’t know. I didn’t expect the Americans to get it, really.
“I can’t understand what they’re saying sometimes. It’s quite colloquial, with in-jokes. I don’t understand how the Americans get it!”
“We may do another season of Rosehaven, which would be the last”
Season 4 sees Barbara off to a real estate conference, blind dates and dealing with a rival realtor. But it could also be the penultimate season.
“We may do another season of Rosehaven, which would be the last,” McQuade reveals, adding, “But they said that last time.
“Those guys want to get on with their lives and do other things. They didn’t expect it to be this successful to get to 4. But we couldn’t conclude 4 because Katie (Robertson) was 8 and a half months pregnant. So the storyline had to go out the window and she just had to be head-shots on the tablet, with the character somewhere else.
“But they want to come back and do one more and round it up, I think. I think it’s good to go while it’s still happening.
“People forget that Fawlty Towers only made 13 half hours!
“But it would be great if we can do it again. If we do it this time, it’ll be a summer shoot. So that’d be great!”
Rosehaven returns 9pm tonight on ABC.