Writer's blog,season 2, episode 5
By Rachel Lang
Okay, we can now reveal the Big Thing that we couldn't reveal before. If you watched episode five (enormous spoiler alert) you will now know that Amy, much to the shock and sorrow of her friends, has found her Prince and gone...
She's gone? Yes, she has. At least for now...
To dial it back a year or so, we were also pretty sad when found
Anna wasn't going to be available for all of season two. We
were well into writing and planning series two at the time,
and up until this point, we had been feeling rather smug about how
far ahead we were with our storylines and scripts. This was
our first mistake, since fate was bound to slap us
We are very, very fond of Amy and also Anna, so for two minutes we were all in shock. But now, duly fate-slapped, we had to imagine life without Amy, and pull the series apart for the Big Rewrite.
We also had the added curly element, which was that because of Anna's window of availability, the series would need to be shot out of order - with episodes 4,6,7 and 8 shot before 1, 2, 3 and 5. Cue severe brain strain, and also some swearing.
But even though we were pretty sad about losing Amy, this wasn't the first time this kind of thing has happened to us. Kate, Gav and I all toiled for years at various points on Shortland Street where actors are regularly written in and out for various reasons, like holidays/other gigs/broken limbs/going mad. So we'd had a bit of practice. And on that Other Show Which Remains Nameless because it's on The Other Network we had a cast member who was rather unavailable on a lot of the seasons on account of being Australian and expensive, so we weren't unfamiliar with the puzzle of 'how do you make a jigsaw when you don't have all the pieces'.
And here's the terrible admission. Even though we writers might be genuinely sad, we are such nerds that very quickly we get absorbed in the challenge of the puzzle and what could happen next.
In this way, we are Total Story Sluts: in love with our characters one minute, but after two minutes of grieving, we start to fall in love with the new possibilities. (This is the cruel, fickle and heartless side to writers which actors should probably be more aware of.)
So there we were losing Amy. We thought of all kinds of ways of writing her out, but in the end we thought we'd stick to our knitting and give our Princess a romantic fairy tale ending. We did even think of writing her out with Brad - but this would have meant losing a fantastic actor and a great character, so bless Gavin for suggesting that this should Not Happen, as there was such a lot of potential in Brad being among the wounded and fallen...
The network were also sad to lose Amy, and it's no disrespect to them, or the actor to say that part of the reason is that as well as being talented, Anna is blonde and also very pretty.
But Amy is a lot more than her hair colour. And you can't just replace a character with a copy of a character, because life's not like that, and neither is a series, especially one about long-established friendships.
So we didn't try to pretend that Olivia was going to gain instant admittance to the inner sanctum - she is going to have to work for this if she's ever to achieve it. And we didn't make her blonde. Actually, we didn't have a lot of choice about this because Esther had henna'ed her hair red before she got the role, which made it really hard to change the colour to anything except dark. (Another note to actors: don't henna your hair. It might be natural, but it limits your options.)
Fortunately, we did have a blonde already in the cast - Angelina, and also a new guest we'd already added, Kirby. You'll see more of them next week - and not just because they're blonde.
Episode five was a bit of a big one really and the tears at the end were pretty much genuine from our lovely cast, because they are all so close, and having Anna back was a blast. When Anna went, we are all sad all over again - though we still hope she might come and play with us for some of season three, if there is one.
But grief and loss are great for story and also comedy (see, heartless sluts) and so there's lots of fun to be had with that next week. For Kevin of course it's particularly hard to lose Amy, but there's also the fresh horror of how his nemesis came to be his flatmate...