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Emma Hamilton set for TV heights on RFDS

She's not British but Aussie, yet RFDS could well make Emma Hamilton a home grown star.

Emma Hamilton may have had lead roles in Mary: The Making of a Princess and Hyde & Seek but she isn’t quite prepared for what may come if Seven’s RFDS becomes a TV hit.

But she got a taste of what may be in store when filming the series in Broken Hill.

“I know from working with Steve (Peacocke), how much he gets recognised, even in Broken Hill. I’ve never had that problem mainly because I look different in nearly everything that I’ve done. I haven’t been a lead in a huge show like this, so I don’t really know what to expect,” she tells TV Tonight.

“I was speaking to my son’s daycare the other day, and one of the carers said they saw the ad on television. It was the first time anyone’s really recognised me, because I don’t think they know of an actress! That was a bit exciting.”

Hamilton is Australian born and bred, but studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the UK, later playing Brits and Americans in shows such as Mr. Selfridge, The Tudors, The Musketeers and Fearless.

Coming home for Last Cab to Darwin in 2015 may have inadvertently prepared her for the role of Eliza, a British doctor escaping her past when she joins the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“That was interesting because I was transported straight from London into the outback, which is very similar to what my character Eliza does. So that really helped me with Eliza because I’d live that,” she explains.

“Having a fish out of water story is a great way in”

“Having a fish out of water story is a great way in, because we have a lot of very particular language in Australia that people overseas won’t necessarily understand. Things like ‘dongas, grey nomads,’ and the like. Having someone who is completely from another country coming into to that Outback setting, I think helps because the characters have to explain it to her, and hence the audience.”

Based on real-life stories this series by Endemol Shine Banks centres around the doctors, nurses, pilots and support staff of the RFDS and emergency retrievals across some of the most inhospitable places in the country.  Despite its title, which was also used in the final season of Crawford’s Flying Doctors series, there is no direct link nor remake involved.

“Everyone’s heard of that show. It has such a legacy”

“Everyone’s heard of that show. It has such a legacy. I was reading the script thinking maybe it was something to do with that. But as soon as I started reading it, I realised it was a brand new conception of it and very, very different to the original.

“It really grabbed my attention and I thought it was wonderfully written.

“When I was offered the role, I thought, ‘How much (medical) do I have to know?’ If it hadn’t been for COVID, I would have gone and spent some time in a hospital. I was very lucky that the Melbourne branch of the RFDS welcomed me and gave me a tour, prior to hitting to Broken Hill.

“One of the flight nurses took me onto a plane and showed me how everything worked. I just peppered him with questions and he was really lovely. But the medical language and all of the procedures, I hadn’t done before as as an actor. I was a little apprehensive. Because we’re representing a real organisation I wanted to get right. I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing.”

The ensemble cast features Rob Collins, Justine Clarke, Ash Ricardo, Kate Mulvany, Rodney Afif, Jack Scott, Ash Hodgkinson, Thomas Weatherall, Sofia Nolan and Stephen Peacocke who plays nurse Pete Emerson.

Part of Hamilton’s various auditions involved a chemistry test with Peacocke, which hints at what viewers can expect from episode one.

“There’s a bit of an immediate spark between them”

“Eliza and Pete meet through work and there’s a bit of an immediate spark between them… things escalate, but as as so often happens in life, other things get in the way,” she teases.

“I hope it finds an international audience. First and foremost, we’d love Australian audiences to get behind it. But it would be wonderful to have some international interest as well.”

Indeed the series has already been sold to Channel 4 in the UK, PBS in the USA, TV4 in Sweden, Belgium’s SBS, Talpa in the Netherlands and New Zealand’s TVNZ.

But first it takes flight on Seven at 8:40pm Wednesday.

6 Responses

  1. … useless trivia
    – in 2011 Princess Mary arrives at RFDS base in Broken Hill
    – in 2015 Emma Hamilton plays Princess Mary in a telemovie
    – in 2021 Emma Hamilton arrives at RFDS base in Broken Hill
    Ta da …

  2. RFDS ratings should do well at least for the first two episodes because of the hype. This show has all the ingredients to become a hit, especially for overseas audiences; it has the wide open outback spaces, the doctors and nurses (always a hit), and the aircraft which never fails to create some drama, especially the flying scenes. Last but not least it looks like it follows the tried and true American production style which I guess is essential to grab Canadian and US audiences. I have no doubt RFDS could grab a lot of attention in the UK.

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