Oz-NZ TV co-pro rounds out cast

01 March, 2015 by Don Groves

Melina Vidler, Benson Jack Anthony, Rick Donald and Bridie Carter have joined Erik Thomson in 800 Words, a drama commissioned by the Seven Network and TVNZ.

The 8-part series stars Thomson as George Turner, who quits his job as an 800 word columnist for a Sydney newspaper after his wife dies and, on impulse, buys a house in a remote New Zealand seaside town.


Vidler (The Arrangement, Mako: Island of Secrets) and Anthony (Underbelly Razor, Blood Brothers, Legend of the Seeker) play his teenage children Shay and Arlo Turner.

The family’s hopes of making a fresh start don’t go to plan in their new environment as the locals are both secretive and inquisitive.

Donald (Friends with Better Lives, The Doctor Blake Mysteries) is cast as George’s new best mate Woody, a fellow Aussie and keen surfer, with Carter (McLeod’s Daughters) as Jan, editor of the newspaper George wrote for.

A bevy of local women are quick to offer help to George: artist Katie (Anna Jullienne), ambulance driver and businesswoman Fiona (Michelle Langstone), young surfing goddess Hannah (Cian Elyse White) and local teacher Tracey (Emma Leonard of Home & Away and Wonderland).

The co-creators are James Griffin (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons, Westside) and Maxine Fleming (Agent Anna).

A co-production between Seven Productions and NZ’s South Pacific Pictures, it’s now shooting in various inner city suburbs of Sydney and on locations in and around Auckland.

The directors are Pino Amenta (Wentworth, Winners & Losers, Packed to the Rafters) and Kiwi Mike Smith (Siege, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Underbelly: Lang of the Long Green Cloud).

The producer is Chris Hampson (Hope & Wire, White Lies, Kaitangata Twitch) and the EPs are Seven Network head of drama Julie McGauran, SPP CEO Kelly Martin (Westside, Step Dave, Shortland Street, The Brokenwood Mysteries) and Chris Bailey (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Nothing Trivial, Go Girls). The DoPs are Fred Renata and Dave Garbett  

Martin tells IF, “James and Maxine had come up with this great new idea for a series and we took the show to Channel Seven with Erik in mind. They loved it. The stars aligned when the Screen Production Grant came in (which made the co-production a viable option) and Erik became available.”

The international distributor is All3Media International, SPP’s parent company.