Interview: Wayne Hope

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Wayne Hope is, if not the back-bone of Australian comedy, certainly one of the vertebrae. Actor, writer, director and producer. Co-founder of production company Gristmill, along with Robyn Butler (to whom he is also married),  he has been involved in such hits as Stories from the Golf, The Librarians, Very Small Business and Upper Middle Bogan.

Next week, he brings back to the ABC, his character Don Angel, from Very Small Business.

Wayne carved out some time in his busy production schedule to talk to Glam about Don’s triumphant return to the small (business) screen.

Ten years ago myself, Robyn and [co-writer] Gary McCaffrie, came up with the idea about this dodgy small businessman. Gary and I were both drawn to the idea of the façade that people put on when they’re in business, and we thought there was good room for our character, Don Angel. 

So we decided to bring the series back ten years later.  We thought it was interesting to revisit a dodgy character like Don because they never die: they just seem to find a way to re-emerge and re-invent themselves. And a dodgy white guy called Don seems quite in the zeitgeist at the moment! So we put him in success and surrounded him with people who confront a white, middle-aged guy, because we’re at a time when that paradigm has cracks in it. 

Hope and his team worked on developing characters that would confront Don in terms of ethnicity, sexuality, culture, age and gender. All of whom he employs because he can get them cheap in one way or another.

So he’s got an Indian guy working for him because he got him on a 457 visa; he’s got a PA, Celeste (Robyn Nevin) who is a senior, that he got with a government subsidy. Molly Daniels plays my daughter in the series (Hope’s real-life step-daughter): she’s  working with him, and she’s a chip off the old block. That’s interesting for a young, female character: not to be nice, not to be sweet, but to be in there, playing the game herself. So she heads up the social media side of the business. She’s cottoned Don onto the idea of “influencers”- matching celebrities with brands. So she’s hustling in that world. 

Hope is keen to point out that this is a stand-alone series, so you don’t have to have seen Very Small Business in order to enjoy Don Angel this time round.

With a cast of great Australian actors, both veterans and new-comers, a tight, laugh-a-minute script, and  topical story-lines, this is sure to be a winner with both audiences and critics.

Back in Very Small Business premieres on ABC TV,  next Wednesday September 5th at 9 pm.

 

 

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Tracey Korsten is a freelance writer, poet, speaker and performer, based in Adelaide. She blogs at middleagedlove.

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