Q&A with creator and head writer Kate McDermott
How did you come up with Step Dave? Was it a Eureka moment, or more of a slow burn?
Chris [Bailey] commissioned me to come up with some ideas for a male lead half hour show. We were doing Go Girls series two at the time and there was an episode I wrote, episode nine-“Boys Behaving Badly” that Chris loved so much he got the idea for a male lead show.
How much have you drawn upon your own life to create the world of the show?
I have teenage daughters so some of the language and interests I steal from them a little bit, otherwise it’s mostly fiction. My husband Mike is getting heaps of people saying to him “That’s about you eh,” Because he’s a step dad. But I find that offensive, there is a 16 year age gap between Dave and Cara, how old do people think I am!
How do you write from the point of view of a 24-year-old guy?
I take a little bit of inspiration from my younger brother. He’s eight years younger than I am. But he’s still 24 to me- he’s never really grown up. Also, my husband has heaps of younger musician friends and hanging out with the Go Girls cast for years has kept me pretty young! I have lots of friends who are younger than me.
Do you think that the Cara/Dave relationship of younger man/older woman is a common one?
No. It’s common to see an older man with a younger woman. I know a lot of friends who are pushing 40 and single and are having flings with younger men. It’s definitely a point of interest. I was at a wedding and I met someone who was in her 50s and her partner was in his 30s and it was like, “Oh, I see.” I have a friend who has just embarked on that kind of relationship. In fact, years ago when I was starting to work on Step Dave and I told her about the concept she said, “That will never work, the age difference is too much.” And now she’s doing it!
What do you think fundamentally the show is about?
I think it’s about family. It’s a love story but it’s about family in all its shapes and sizes. Alongside this blended family, there’s the non-family of Jen and her gay flatmate, there is also the childless corporate couple who are a different kind of family as well. It’s about how families aren’t just mum, dad, two kids and a dog. I think that it’s important to tell because it’s just life these days.
About Kate McDermott
Kate has nearly 18 years’ experience as a storyliner, script writer, script editor and head writer.
Kate was part of the storylining team for series 5 of the much loved comedy-drama Go Girls . She acted as head writer and script editor for Go Girls series 2 and has written or co-written, 23 scripts across all five series. Kate wrote a telefeature, based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, Nights In the Garden of Spain, which screened on TV One in 2011.
In 2008, Kate wrote the acclaimed short film This Is Her, which has won numerous awards, including Best Comedy Short at the 2009 Aspen Shortsfest, USA, audience awards at the 2009 Hamptons International Film Festival and the 2008 Prague International Short Film Festival, and featured in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and 2008 New York Film Festival.
Kate has also written scripts for the award-winning drama series Outrageous Fortune (series 2, 3, 4 and 5), TV2’s Ride With The Devil, and worked as a storyliner on TV One’s Burying Brian , and comedy drama, Nothing Trivial . She was script consultant of The Market and has also written scripts for Jackson’s Wharf , Mercy Peak (series 2 and 3) and the second series of Being Eve, as well as acting as script editor on Being Eve.
Over 12 years ago, Kate joined South Pacific Pictures’ Shortland Street serial as a storyliner and, and has worked for the production as both a script editor and story editor, as well as writing numerous scripts. She was the writer for a one-hour special The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – the Best of Shortland Street 2005 and for Shortland Street’s 10 year anniversary special. She also co-wrote the text for two books celebrating Shortland Street’s 15 year anniversary.
Kate is also an accomplished playwright, winning the Loudon Cup for Drama in both 1989 and 1990, while at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School. In 1990, she won the Best Playwright Award for Nowhere Fast at the Waitemata Drama Festival and won Best Play Overall for Oscillate Wildly, and Runner Up for Barbarism in the Living Room.
Kate is mother to four daughters, Jaime, Eden, Sylvie and Alexandra and lives in Auckland with her husband Mike.