The return of Jane Halifax to Nine next week will herald the reprise of a character who left our screens in 2002.
But for star Rebecca Gibney, it’s also just part of a wider relationship she has with Nine, and other projects are in discussion.
“We’ve got other idea, not just Halifax. I’m looking to do other stuff with Nine and some in New Zealand which is really bubbling along quite well,” she recently told TV Tonight.
“They always felt Halifax never got finished off properly”
“I was approached by Nine (asking me), what would I like to do? We talked about Flying Doctors, we talked about all sorts of shows, and Halifax was one that’s often been asked by lots of my followers. They always felt Halifax never got finished off properly. ‘You did 21 telemovies and then it stopped.’ The character didn’t have an ending. So it seemed logical to do a reboot.”
Halifax: Retribution kicks off with a telemovie-length instalment followed by 7 further episodes led by producer / creator Roger Simpson. Gibney notes that the character of the young forensics psychiatrist has matured significantly. She was just 29 when she was first cast in 1994.
“It’s so funny because I look back but I just can’t watch them!”
“It’s so funny because I look back but I just can’t watch them!” she laughs. “My voice is up here! I don’t believe a word I say half the time.
“Thank god Roger kept writing stuff and people kept watching it. But at the time I felt inexperienced. It’s so lovely to now go back and revisit a character with all the experience and all the baggage and the ability to take a few more risks. I feel like I can bring a lot more to her.
“You’re dealing with a woman in her 50s and she’s different. I might not necessarily agree with how they want to portray her. We don’t always agree. We’ve had robust discussions, but we’re still great mates.”
Shifting from telemovies to series form, Retribution has a through-line story of a sniper on the rooftops of Melbourne. Gibney references shows like Killing Eve, Bodyguard, Broadchurch and Luther as inspiration.
“The crime thriller genre does have that element of wanting to be an armchair detective”
“The crime thriller genre does have that element of wanting to be an armchair detective. It makes you want to tune back in next week, if there is an overall thread of ‘Who is it, who’s doing it?’ That’s what we’ve laid into this series …even to the point of when you discover who it is, you’ve then got to catch them.
“There’s a fascination between the two lead characters in The Fall and shows where the lead character develops a relationship with the protagonist.”
The cast also features Anthony LaPaglia, Claudia Karvan, Mandy McElhinney, Craig Hall, Mavournee Hazel, Rick Donald, Ming-Zhu Hii, Ben O’Toole, Mark Coles Smith, Hannah Monson and Michala Banas. Guest stars include Jacqueline McKenzie, Louisa Mignone, Stephen Curry, John Waters and Luke Ford.
Gibney also notes the look of the show, captured by cinematographer Geoffery Hall ACS.
“No-one has shot Melbourne from up high. Because we’re dealing with a sniper who is shooting people from the tops of buildings. So we’re shooting a lot of it from up (high), and we’re shooting across buildings.
“It’s spectacular. We’re seeing everything from his perspective and it makes Melbourne look like New York.
“You have to showcase the character of the city”
“Physically, you have to showcase the character of the city. We have to shoot it in a way that hasn’t been shot before. It has to be on an international scale, because we’re now competing with all the Netflix shows, all the SVOD shows. They’re all international. You can’t just make a cutesy little drama anymore. No one’s going to watch it.”
Indeed while there is one primary villain there are other elements to explore.
“It’s the one crim that we’re chasing, but it’s discovering why he’s doing it. Is it terrorism related? Does he have a message? Is it random? Who are these people that he’s killing and why is he killing them? It’s deciphering that, while we’re introducing other characters,” Gibney explains.
“It’s a lot of threads, which is how those sorts of shows work. If it was too simple, you’d guess it in a heartbeat. It’s also trying to make it very modern… the feeling that we’re always being watched. That’s another sort of thread in the story.”
If the series scores for Nine and a renewal is potentially on the cards, she will be very busy indeed, with a Back to the Rafters reprisal to also be completed.
“There’s heaps, it’s crazy!” she admits.
“I’m nearly 55 and I’ve still got work, it’s great! Sleep when you’re dead!”
Halifax: Retribution airs 8:40pm Tuesday on Nine.