Go Girls' writer's blog: Episode eight
Kate McDermott is a writer for Go Girls.
A long, long time ago, (actually only a year or two), when we learned that Go Girls was all go, so to speak, we three writers prepared to write thirteen episodes of a brand new series (actually, it was only twelve because Rachel and Gavin had already written the first episode back when the show was being developed).
We were joined by the lovely storyliner Libby Bird. Libby brought to the project years of experience (some of it to do with writing), a wicked sense of humour and also a small bag of chocolate gold coins - for Amy, she said.
Forming the right team was important, but we also needed the right tools. And one of the most important tools was what is known in the business as the Big White Paper. The Big White Paper comes in a big white roll, and is delivered by our friend JJ from South Pacific Pictures, who as well as being Queen of Schedules, is also Queen of exercise books, Queen of a certain type of blue pen favoured by Rachel Lang, and of Big White Paper.
The first thing that happens to the Big White Paper is that it gets taped onto the wall of The Bunker (the Bunker being Rachel and Gavin's office with its solid concrete walls and distant view of the North Shore) and then Gavin draws some lines on it, and then some more and these lines become boxes and each box gets a number from 2 - 13. These numbers signify episodes.
So, with all our pretty boxes ready and waiting to be filled, we sit and we stare at them for a bit. The paper is very big, and very white and very... blank, right now. So we make some coffee and Gavin checks his email, and Rachel puts another call in to JJ for more of those blue pens she likes and then we fill each other in on we did in the weekend or what we're doing next weekend and then someone suggests that maybe we should get on with the job. But first another coffee, eh?
And what has all this got to do with Episode 8 of Go Girls? Not a hell of a lot so far, except that even now, I can still remember what eventually ended up written on the big white paper under the number 8. And that was... 'Britta's fake Dad number 2'.
We had talked a lot about different ways of getting famous, and one of those was "fame by association". The celebrity widow idea - someone who ends up with a high profile because of a tragedy or extraordinary event is something which cropped up again and again in Britta's story arc over the series. In episode 6, she saw (with Amy's help) the bright side of finding out that her father, a well-known drug dealer, had died twenty years ago after falling into a long-drop. Unfortunately, her plan to exploit her situation by selling her story to the women's mags came undone when it was discovered that the 'dealer down the dunny' wasn't actually her father after all. So who was her Dad? Fran's reply in that ep."I'm just not sure, really. It was summer Britta, and I was very popular". This line came up during the storylining process, and it amused us greatly.
In fact while storylining episode 8, there was a lot of laughter round the table. It was one of those episodes filled with silly images. One of those was Jan running down the road still clutching her lit cigarette after Fran has discovered that she kept Don away by returning his letters all those years ago. We laughed and laughed about that, and though it seemed a bit cartoony in storyline, it really worked.
Then we had fun working out why exactly Jan disliked Don so much. We tossed a few ideas around, and I think it was Rachel who eventually said " what if she just didn't like the look of him? Because he was ugly." Which led me to recall a story that my mother shared about her pinching a family friend's baby on the leg when no-one was looking, because she didn't like the look of it. (I must very quickly point out here that my mother was only four years old at the time, it wasn't last week or anything, okay?!)
And so with much hilarity, we finished the storyline and a lot of what was said at the story table made it into the script and onto the screen.
JAN: I didn't like him. There was something - shifty about him. And he was ugly. Acne and sticky-out ears. And he had no social skills. He was never going to make anything of himself. And he was ugly. A face only a mother could love.
BRITTA: Like mine did!
JAN: She was sixteen, she didn't know what she was doing. I mean, he was so & ugly.
BRITTA: Then so am I, because I'm half him!
JAN: You got your mother's genes. But it was a nerve-wracking nine months, I can tell you.
We found it all endlessly amusing... until the part of Don
Parker was cast. Because that role went to a good friend of
ours - actor Roy Ward. And so, the other thing that comes to
mind when I think about Episode 8 is the look on Roy's face as we
all sat in the first cast read-through of that ep.
As Annie Whittle delivered the lines to much tittering and laughter, Roy glared across the room at me. We had to promise him that the part wasn't written with him in mind - of course it wasn't. But do we love that he got the part, for Roy is fantastically talented, especially as he was doing double duty, playing Gerald's father Nigel Tippett on 'Shortland Street' at around the same time. Did I also mention that Roy is a screenwriter who has penned many episodes of Shortland Street, plus he directs theatre! So, so, so talented. (Have I made up for that day at the read-through yet, Roy?
Of course, Don wasn't Britta's Dad after all (Fran's reaction to
that news - "Bugger! I genuinely thought he was. But I was very
popular that summer"). So, although Fran got a happy ending
being reunited with Don, us mean old writers had trashed poor
Britta yet again. And I'm just thinking about that Big
White Paper trying to remember if we wrote 'Britta finally gets a
break' down anywhere I can't quite recall, but I know that if we
did, it wasn't under episode 9, because that would be Cody's
Did I forget to mention that Episode 8 was also the one where Eli proposed to Cody? Yep, episode 9 is a biggie - for everyone, actually. Bring it on.