Written and wrapped at breakneck speed, script producer Timothy Hobart talks about the ride that has been Wanted and why we need more television shows like it. By Caris Bizzaca.
It seems fitting that a series about two innocent women being chased across Australia in a stolen car was made in similarly speedy fashion.
In fact, it only took a mere eight months to go from chatting about Wanted with star and executive producer Rebecca Gibney, to wrapping the edge-of-your-seat Channel 7 series.
“From occasional lunch to cameras rolling was so fast, it actually did form part of the DNA of the show,” script producer and head of the writing team Timothy Hobart says.
“You often felt like you were being chased by men with guns as you were writing it.”
Gibney and husband/producing partner Richard Bell cooked up the idea for Wanted and worked on it for more than a year before they approached Matchbox Pictures, where Hobart and Tony Ayres immediately leapt at the chance to make it.
“Just having two strong female leads giving it to the man, to me that’s unique – and wonderful,” says Hobart, who together with Ayres, Bell and Gibney formed a kind of multi-faceted showrunner.
Executive Producer Ayres adds that if it were to undergo the Bechdel Test – where at least two female characters must talk to each other about something other than a man – it would pass “with flying colours”.
“I think in six hours of television they talk about boyfriends for about five minutes. The rest of the time they talk about how to stay alive,” he says.
Wanted is a show that’s driven, quite literally, by two female leads.
In it, Gibney tackles a different role than many would be used to seeing from the Packed to the Rafters star. She plays Lola, a weary supermarket checkout operator, who catches the bus before dawn every morning – the same time as tightly-wound accountant Chelsea (Geraldine Hakewill).
When the two strangers are forced to intervene in a car-jacking that turns deadly, they find themselves on the run in a stolen car with a bag full of money.
“One of the things that really caught Tony (Ayres) and myself in that first meeting was just how wonderful it would be to have Rebecca Gibney so miscast in a sense – so completely different from anything you’ve seen in before,” Hobart says.
“Lola is a hard, strong woman and Rebecca plays it so wonderfully. I think our audience will be incredibly surprised to see her in this way.”
With Gibney’s Lola driving from danger with the anxious, jittery Chelsea, it’s easy to see why Wanted has been compared to Thelma & Louise and The Odd Couple.
However Hobart thinks the six-part series is inherently different.
He likens it to comparing a male cop show with another male cop show, or two series about men driving in cars. The difference there being that there’s many more shows about those things.
“In some ways it’s been a shame that there hasn’t been more (shows like this),” Hobart says, adding that “the most wonderful thing about writing this show is writing for two strong female characters”.
It was something the writing team – made up of Hobart, Bell, Kirsty Fisher and John Ridley – were adamant about. That is, ensuring these women could hold their own.
“Sometimes you can fall into those traps when you’re tired, but we just never wanted to get a point where there was a man who stepped up and saved the women’s lives,” Hobart says.
“These were women who were always, always going to get themselves out of whatever problem they got themselves into and I think that’s really important. I have a young daughter and I want her to understand that she will never ever have to rely on a man and we need to have more and more television that says that.”
Hobart says one of the things they were really blessed with from the start were these “chalk and cheese” characters Gibney and Bell had created.
“Chelsea and Lola are living these lives of quiet desperation, for uniquely different reasons,” he says.
“But through this terrible thing, they find an inner strength they didn’t know they had and part of that is through each other.”
It’s one of the key elements that Hobart believes makes Wanted so beautiful and watchable.
“Yes, it’s exciting, it’s got guns and fast cars and all that stuff, but at its heart what makes me really come back to it and love it is these women, challenging each other to be stronger and find that inner strength to prevail.”
Wanted premieres on Tuesday February 9 on Channel 7 at 9pm.