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Writer's blog: Shortland St... and Amy and Kev

Writers:  Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan
Blog: Rachel Lang

Well, this was an interesting episode.   Very few of them are completely plain sailing (apart from the One Which Wrote Itself.)  

And when we jumped into Go Girls 4, we had a strong opening, but there was a wee trap in store for us.  Because even though we wrote eps 1 and 2 first, they weren't really the first episodes . . .

As we've probably said before, sometimes we shoot out of order.  And since lovely Anna Hutch had commitments to finish an Australian series, episodes 3 and 4 were first cabs off the rank.  (And that's why in the show, Amy was off in Timaru for most of those episodes . . . )

But as sometimes happens, when we got to episode 4, we found that the storyline we'd done wasn't our best work.  In fact, it was terrible.  And because it was going to be shot very soon, we had to roll up sleeves and rewrite - fast!

To make it quicker, Gav and I split the episode and did half each.  He wrote the Kevin line, which was good, because Gavin and Kevin are yeah nah, very simpatico, and both have a deep and abiding interest in engines and breasts. 

And I got the Leo line.  This was grand news for me, because even though I love all my children with equal devotion, I have a particular soft spot for Leo.

The character of Leo arrived in season 2 as a foil for Olivia - but he turned out to be remarkably tenacious.  This is partly because we cynical writers got to use him as a venting outlet for any topic you could name.  It was also due to Leighton Cardno, who is ace as Leo. 

I know there is a bit of internet kvetching about actors being recycled in NZ shows. "Oh no, it's those guys off Shortland Street again."   And this makes me feel very impatient. 

Honestly, over 20 years, who hasn't been on Shortland Street?  For a lot of young actors, it's a great place to start earning their TV chops -  working very fast, five days a week.   And for not so young actors, it's work.

I marvel at the idea that if you've had one lead role in something in NZ, then you're not supposed to work again.  What a nonsense.  (As Gav says, you wouldn't go - "oh, he's a good plumber, but I won't use him again because he came round last week.") 

Actors get to develop their skills the same way as anyone else - by practising. 

It's hard to become a good screen actor alone in your bedroom - and it's very unlikely that someone will get to say, 30, and be brilliant, compelling and technically accomplished - with zero experience.

Personally, I'm delighted when I can give an actor some more work, partly because I know how limited the opportunities are here.  And the actor didn't get the part as a favour - it's because they're the right person for the role.

It's a joy to see an actor you know creating a new role - and if we get to do more than one season, we'll use what the actor gives us - their particular inflections, their quirks.   Pretty soon you've forgotten that they were ever in a different show, or were a different character - even if you wrote it.

Interestingly, both Leighton and Jay both got their start on a show that wasn't Shortland Street - it was Being Eve, which Gav co-created many aeons ago. 

On this score, we writers are pretty lucky, because if people went round going - "oh, not those old hacks again, didn't they do Shortland Street?" - we'd be very unemployed and there'd be no Go Girls . . .

Happily for us, writers are highly invisible - which is just as well, because we're a lot less attractive than our cast.  (In fact, we often joke that writers are just ugly actors.)

Anyway, I ended up enjoying episode 4, which was about two blokes trying to change themselves.  I loved Leo's road rage; I loved that we were able to give Kevin a fairy tale moment, when he helped a traveler who turned out to be his fairy godfather, Ron Cape. 

(The reason Ron is called Ron Cape? When we were talking about the character, we said there should be something magical about him.  Storyliner Sam paused, then declared - "He wears . . . a cape".  We decided an actual cape might be a bit much, so he got one as a name instead.)

And now as you know, Amy is back, and after four seasons, she and Kevin are finally together!  Yay!  But will it work out, can they stay together? 

Roll on episode 5, which has to be one of the funniest and most truthful depictions of a guy in love, ever . . .

Gav can tell you all about it next week.