Corridors of Power: episode guide

Episode 1

Philip Quast

Debut: October 08, 2001 (ABC)
Written by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

Tony is under pressure, as allegations of him being axed as Aged Care Shadow Minister are made public. Michael is also in trouble when his naiveté as a new backbencher becomes apparent when tackling the media without full knowledge of his own electorate.

With: Christina Andersson as Receptionist, Alexis Beebe as Journo #3, Peter Bensley as Mail Man, Susan Godfrey as Gina, Richard Healy as Reg, Alan David Lee as Kev, Duncan Ley as Journo #1, Julie McElhone Hayes as Journo #2, Lynne Porteous as Marion Bridgefoot, Natalie Saleeba as Nicole, Probyn Steer as Ray
Special Guest Appearances: Daryl Melham MP, Christopher Pyne MP, Jacinta Tynan, Russel Barton

Episode 2

Ed Wightman and Jeremy Sims

October 15, 2001
Written by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

With the federal election looming Tony Dunne is determined that his future will not be as a humble backbencher. He’s looking for the right opportunity to call in some favours. When he learns there’s to be a testimonial dinner for right wing factional heavy Robert Ray he’s very excited. The perfect opportunity to win back factional support over a few beers and some fried rice. But Tony is in for a surprise—he’s not on the guest list. Worse than that his arch enemy, left wing Mayor Barry McKenna, is. Tony is beside himself. He has to get an invitation to that dinner. Meanwhile Tony’s wife Tanya—who is standing for the Senate—has unofficially moved into his Parliament House office—a development that does not please Tony’s advisor Craig.

In the world of the liberal backbencher, Michael Fielding, arrives at Parliament House unprepared for the drama which is about to unfold. The Bulletin magazine is carrying a story about three north shore Liberal MPs who had allegedly expressed very disparaging views about the Prime Minister at a recent dinner. The journalists at the doorstop ask Michael if he is one of the three and did he make the comments? Michael is aghast. Despite being lost for words in front of the press he later tells Vanessa he did attend the dinner but then assures her he did not say anything bad about the PM. Vanessa is convinced it’s a set up—that her boss is being blamed for comments made by two MPs who are now firmly in the Peter Costello camp. Michael wants to go straight to the PM and tell him the truth. But, as Vanessa explains, avoiding the truth is sometimes a much better strategy. For Michael it’s a day of decisions: should he tell the truth and dump on his colleagues or should he lie low and hope the headlines go away? To make matters worse there’s a cocktail party on at the Lodge. Should he go? And will he be welcome?

With: Alexis Beebe as Journo #3, Peter Bensley as Mail Man, Peter Carroll as Voice in Toilet, Jacqueline Delmage as Robyn, Michelle Doake as Katherine, Richard Healy as Reg, Alan David Lee as Kev, Duncan Ley as Journo #1, Julie McElhone Hayes as Journo #2, Valery Newstead as Cleaner, Steve Tierney as Brian
Special Guest Appearances: Leo McLeay MP

Episode 3

Philip Quast and Anne Looby

October 22, 2001
Written by Bill Harding,
additional material by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

Tony Dunne has made a decision. He needs to improve his image, to raise his profile in a positive way and he thinks he’s come up with the perfect plan. When he tells his adviser Craig he’s going to become a Greenie, the news is not welcome. "You’re a backbencher, you can’t talk about policy on the eve of an election campaign", Craig warns. But Tony will not be deterred.

He and Tanya are to be featured in a television segment on power couples on Today Tonight and Tony wants to use the opportunity to broaden his image. He thinks Labor has dropped the ball on environmental issues and he’s keen to let people know it is an area that he cares about. But Tony’s enthusiasm for a higher profile is dampened when he learns the name of the Greens candidate who will be running against him in his electorate of Wheeler. It is someone from his past who Tony fears has come back to haunt him.

It’s a good day for Michael Feilding. He has been asked by the Prime Minister’s office if he would entertain an Indonesian trade delegation prior to their meeting with the PM later that evening. He is very excited and keen to be able to use his Indonesian language skills. Also, Michael’s local paper is coming to Canberra to do a story about a day in the life of the local member.

Michael’s wife Caroline is also in town for the interview and although she’s a little nervous she’s assured by both Michael and Vanessa that there will be no problems. But in politics, as the Feildings are quickly learning, things never go quite they way they are expected to.

With: Alexis Beebe as Journo #3, Susan Godfrey as Gina, Gary Johnston as Photographer, Duncan Ley as Journo #1, Julie McElhone Hayes as Journo #2, Simone Robertson as Annika
Special Guest Appearances: Senator Bob Brown, Bruce Baird MP

Episode 4

Philip Quast

October 29, 2001
Written by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

Michael Fielding is finally leaving Canberra—going back to the safety and security of his own electorate of Clifton. Hot on the heels of an embarrassing corridor vomit, still suffering from being locked in his office toilet and only just recovering from his One Nation nursing home disaster, Michael cannot afford another mistake. His ever-vigilant adviser Vanessa has been doing some fast negotiating with the Prime Minister’s office and there’s a strong chance the PM will have time to formally open the new gymnasium at a private school in Michael’s electorate. It’s a great opportunity to get some good publicity and impress John Howard at the same time. All they have to do is stay out of trouble and smile for the cameras.

Tony Dunne is also pleased to be getting away from Canberra and back to his heartland—the electorate of Wheeler—where the "real" people live, but Tony is very quickly distracted. His local newspaper is carrying a front-page story about the Greens candidate Sophie Hamilton, attacking Tony’s poor record on the environment. Tony and his adviser Craig are miffed. Craig’s conclusion is that Tony couldn’t have satisfied Sophie during their brief affair at the earth summit in Rio—an explanation Tony is reluctant to accept. He’s confident he can sort it all out—and with Tanya away campaigning in the country he’s got every opportunity to resolve the problem.

With:Jonnie Cocks as Peter Patrikis, Essie Davis as Sophie, Dylan Griffiths as Little Boy, Peter Gwynne as Elderly Constituent, Glenn Hazeldine as Roger Meares, Michael Murphy as Cream Pie Man, Tess Scholfield-Peters as Tess Patrikis, Bill Young as Terry

Episode 5

Ed Wightman and Kristy Wright

November 05, 2001
Written by Bill Harding,
additional material by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

It’s time for Michael Fielding to make some big decisions. He either has to become a "politician" and start behaving like one, or get out of the game. He is a man torn. The test comes when he comes into possession of information which could severely embarrass the Labor party. The problem for Michael is that he was given the information in confidence. His wife Caroline cannot understand his dilemma. He must respect a confidence and stay true to his beliefs. But adviser Vanessa has other ideas. Michael’s information is just the break they need and she urges him to use it to his own advantage. It’s a huge opportunity. The question is, will he use it?

Tony Dunne is also grappling with some big decisions. He learns from his wife Tanya that Craig, his rat cunning adviser, has been disloyal to him - and that he’s been applying for jobs all over Parliament House, including a job with Cheryl Kernot. This distressing news quickly turns to alarm as Tony realises the potential damage Craig can do him. There are too many skeletons in Tony’s closet, which Craig could reveal. He has to find a way to get rid of him while at the same time keeping him indebted. Tony’s political brain is in overdrive as he finally comes up with the perfect solution—or so he thinks.

With: Peter Bensley as Mail Person, Tina Bursill as Petra, Jonnie Cocks as Peter Patrakis, Richard Healy as Reg, Alan David Lee as Kev, Barbara Morton as Tanya
Special Guest Appearances: Hon. Joe Kockey MP, Cheryl Kernot MP

Episode 6

Philip Quast and Jeremy Sims

November 12, 2001 (finale)
Written by Graeme Koetsveld
Directed by Michael Carson

A storm is brewing in Canberra and the atmosphere is bleak. Labor is on the nose in the electorate and headed for certain defeat. Despite his best efforts Tony has failed to make it back on the front bench and now his future is almost certainly another three years as an Opposition backbencher. To make matters worse Tanya’s hopes of being elected to the Senate are also fading and he’s still got the problem with Craig, the disloyal adviser.

As the thunder rolls around the hills of Canberra Tony makes a difficult decision: he’s going to leave politics. Tanya laughs off the news, but Tony has never been more serious. It’s time to get out, to move on to something new. But, as Tony Dunne learns, in politics life is never that simple and difficult decisions are never that made that easily.

Michael Fielding meanwhile is in full battle mode. There’s a war brewing, the Liberals are up in the polls and he’s enjoying every minute of it. He is finally at home in the corridors of power. After weeks of stumbles and embarrassments, bad headlines and schoolboy jokes, Michael has come of age.

He is, at last, a politician. And when he’s told by Howard’s office that he’s back in the fold, that he’s "one of us" Michael’s joy turns to ecstasy. Life doesn’t get any better that this. But, as Michael Fielding knows too well, in politics things can go terribly wrong—just when you least expect it.

With: Peter Bensley as Mail Person, Susan Godfrey as Gina, Alan David Lee as Kev, Bill Young as Terry
Special Guest Appearances: Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Hon. Bob Katter MP, Mark Latham MP