How Claire Lovering & Danielle Walker ‘trauma bonded’ over Gold Diggers

They had never met prior to auditions, but the chemistry of ABC's new comedy duo would make or break a new colonial comedy.

Unlike most TV comedy duos Claire Lovering (North Shore, Class of ’07, Wellmania) and Danielle Walker (Taskmaster, Get Krack!n) had no performing history together prior to their first ABC comedy series, Gold Diggers.

Both met during the audition process, impressing creatives with their chemistry and cast around Christmas 2022.

Within weeks they were doing a table read of the script on zoom for a massive number of TV executives, including bigwigs from the USA.

“There were about 60 people on the zoom, including the Head of CBS, and the President of CBS. I’ve never seen that much involvement and hands-on approach,” Lovering tells TV Tonight.

“It’s Danni’s first acting role and my first lead role. We were learning a lot and under a lot of pressure. There was a lot of responsibility and pressure that the show would be made or broken on our relationship and chemistry. Because of that we really looked to each other, supported each other, almost ‘trauma-bonded’ and got closer every day.”

The period comedy is produced by KOJO Studios and Stampede Ventures in partnership with CBS Studios for ABC. With CBS involved it also meant there were US executives on set, including Greg Silverman whose credits include 10 Things I Hate About You, Jersey Boys, Unforgettable, Arthur, Lego Movie 2 and more.

“Greg Silverman, did say to Danni, ‘There’s only two reasons why I would be here. It’s either things are going wrong, and I’m here to fix them, or things are going really well and I want to be associated with it.’ And he said, it’s the latter. We took that to be a good thing,” said Lovering.

‘You just want to pretend that no one’s watching”

The pair admit it was just a tad intimidating having suits on set.

“It can just feel a bit stressful when you’re thinking about people critiquing you,” said Walker.

“Particularly when you’re making comedy, and you just want to pretend that no one’s watching. It can get in your head thinking ‘People are watching, and they’re the money people. They’ve made this long haul flight to be here to kind of see if it’s working,'” added Lovering.

Gold Diggers is created by former Totally Wild / Saturday Disney presenter Jack Yabsley (Mikki vs the World, Prank You Very Much, How to Do Stuff Good) who penned the pilot episode on a series of vomit bags on a plane to Bali.

“Jack started writing it seven years ago as a project for some of his funny female friends as a web series. He set it in a gold rush town because his ex girlfriend’s parents had a Airbnb that looked like that. So it was like I would just shoot it there,” Lovering explains.

“We came aboard at the very end.”

“Over the years it evolved and snowballed and was picked up by different companies and let go… finally it all came together with ABC, CBS and Kojo. I think it’s lot bigger than he ever expected, and then we came aboard at the very end.”

“Jack had about 7 other writers. He was the only only straight white man. He made sure that he had people of every other ethnicity, sexuality to try and make up for what he lacked in the chromosome area,” Walker recalls.

“Any experiences, or any voices that are represented, are written by someone who’s authentically that. So, he definitely ‘outsourced’ a lot. But when I read the show bible and his Director’s Statement, there was a line, which I really loved: ‘I wrote this shows for two funny women to do just that -be funny,'” says Lovering.

“I thought it was cool that was his starting point.

“In terms of the plot, it’s about two sisters who are running away from their past and trying to find a newly-rich husbands in the gold fields. It’s contemporary vernacular and humour but set in 1853. It’s bold, brash, irreverent, silly, stupid, bonkers -any of those words.”

“We’re two girls looking for a better life”

“We’re two girls looking for a better life,” Walker suggests. “If they covered all these issues, in a modern way, it would feel maybe a bit ‘on the nose.’ I think back in the day, you were trying to have the basic necessities of life… so it’s an easier place to start from.”

“We speak like girls from 2023 and make very contemporary references. The hope is that audiences can connect with us, relate to us, have fun, but also kind of laugh at the issues,” Lovering observes.

Filming took place in Maldon at an unused replica of a colonial town up for sale, fortuitously discovered by producers.

The cast includes Eddie Perfect, Luke Mullins, Michala Banas, Aaron McGrath, Kartanya Maynard, George Zhao, Susan ann-Walker, Heather Walker and Lincoln Younes.

“She has an impeccable French accent, doing physical comedy in a bloody hooped skirt.”

Megan Wilding (Mystery Road: Origin, pictured above) is an absolute scene-stealer as ex-BFF Francesca L’Estrange.

“It’s a tricky role, because she’s playing a dual reality the whole way through as the ‘French aristocrat’, but also as our old best friend with that twinkle in her eye saying, ‘Don’t you dare say a thing!'” Lovering explains. “She just balances it so beautifully. She has an impeccable French accent, doing physical comedy in a bloody hooped skirt. She was also in the writers room, so she contributed a lot to the storyline. Jack is a huge fan and wrote the role for her.”

Also a stand-out is Semisi Cheekam (Hardball) as teen entrepreneur, Kelvin.

“He’s an absolutely beautiful angel!” says Walker. “He’s 16. He’s top of all his classes in school. He’s also the rugby captain and he’s an actor. He’s absolutely incredible and lovely.”

Both Lovering and Walker are hoping for a second season if the series is well received.

“We’ve got absolutely no idea yet. Who knows?” Walker replies.

“We’ll see how it lands. We’ve definitely signed options so there are hopes for it,” agrees Lovering. “But it just depends if it resonates. I guess I’ll stay off Twitter!”

Gold Diggers screens 9:05pm Wednesday on ABC.

2 Responses

  1. A historical comedy using a very familiar-looking location with unknown actors? I was not interested at all and would normally never watch something like this. But accidentally left it on after Gruen and it was actually better than expected – am definitely willing to give it another watch.

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