Daniel Nettheim on the set of ‘Doctor Who’.

Resettling in Sydney after spending several years in the UK working on series including Doctor Who, director Daniel Nettheim is excited to be part of the current wave of Australian drama.

“There is some great drama coming out of Australia, such as Harrow, Secret City, Sunshine and Barracuda,” Nettheim tells IF.

“Maybe program makers have their eyes more on international sales but it’s nice to see scripts that are ambitious in the way that stories are being told.

“Sydney is my base again but I will go back to the UK if the right job comes along.”

Nettheim directed four episodes of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi as the Time Lord. He worked with Capaldi’s successor Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who, on Broadchurch, and rates her as a fantastic actress.

After directing two episodes of Harrow, Hoodlum’s crime drama co-commissioned by the ABC and Disney’s ABC Studios International, he is getting ready to direct the last three episodes of Matchbox Pictures’ political thriller Secret City sequel for Foxtel.

Tony Krawitz will direct the first three episodes of Secret City: Under the Eagle, which examines the Australian-US alliance and again stars Anna Torv, Jacki Weaver, Sacha Horler, Marcus Graham and Justin Smith.

On Harrow, which stars Ioan Gruffudd as a brilliant but unorthodox forensic pathologist who hides a dark secret, he relished the chance to team up again with Hoodlum’s Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield: He directed the duo’s first ever production, Fat Cow Motel, an interactive comedy drama which screened on the ABC in 2002.

Kate Dennis (The Handmaid’s Tale, the US remake of Secrets and Lies, CSI: Cyber) was the set-up director of Harrow and directed one episode. Krawitz, Tony Tilse and Peter Salmon each directed two eps and Catriona McKenzie did one.

He watched footage of the first five episodes before directing the climactic two instalments. “My prerogative was to honour the earlier work and to try to bring something fresh so I was not repeating the same ideas,” he tells IF.

“It was nice to step in and bring things to a conclusion and take responsibility for that. The show has a unique tone because of the level of humour. What I really enjoyed from some of the earlier episodes was seeing what an actor like Darren Gilshenan can bring to those comedy parts and how well that sits with the grimmer parts of the investigation.”

Last year he went back to the UK to serve as the set-up director and to direct the first two episodes of Safe, a Netflix-commissioned thriller which stars Dexter’s Michael C. Hall.

Based on an idea by Harlan Coben, the executive producer, and scripted by Danny Brocklehurst (Shameless), the show is set in a gated community and follows Hall as Tom, a paediatric surgeon who is bringing up his two teenage daughters alone following the death of his wife.

The family appear to have recovered until one of his daughters sneaks out to a party and a murder that same night rocks their fragile world.

Studiocanal’s RED Production Company, whose credits include BBC1’s Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, is producing. He describes Hall as very charming and committed to the work, playing an everyman character.

Nettheim has not directed a feature since The Hunter, the 2011 adventure-thriller which starred Willem Dafoe, Frances O’Connor and Sam Neill. “That’s not through want of trying,” he says. “Features seem to take a lot longer than television to gestate and finance. I am lined up to direct a couple of projects when they get financed and cast.”

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  1. Fat Cow Motel was in fact commissioned by AUSTAR the pay TV company and then licensed to the ABC.

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