Underbelly: articles

BLUE HEELER: With the credit as a scriptwriter for TV series Blue Heelers, one would hardly think that Michaeley would have a Kelpie cross for her pet.

From Gulgong to Underbelly

As the third series of the television blockbuster Underbelly prepares to go to air, on a quiet rural property near Gulgong a local scriptwriter is working on writing series four, to be aired in 2011.

With a host of script credits for some of the most popular series to grace the screen, Michaeley O'Brien was recently contracted to be one of the writers for what she describes as "the big one".

"To a scriptwriter, this is the equivalent of an astronaut being told 'you are booked on a shuttle to the moon'," she said.

"This means I am working among the best writers in Australia on a series that has the most complex story telling.

"Underbelly is a story that is told over 13 episodes as against a story over one episode at a time."

Ms O'Brien said that on the fourth series she joins a gun team of four scriptwriters who have been involved in writing the three previous series.

"I feel very privileged to have been invited into writing with this group.

"As a scriptwriter it lets me write in a way that is different to traditional television because it is real," she said.

"The length of the story makes it more difficult and I expect it to be the hardest thing I have ever written - but that's the challenge."

She describes Underbelly as serious adult television and, while it may not attract as many viewers as shows that are more child-friendly, it has a very big audience.

"This is in itself quite amazing because it is not simple story telling and it is a credit to Australian audiences that they have embraced Underbelly," she said.

Ms O'Brien is contracted to secrecy on the content of series four, but said many of the characters that are central to the 2011 series, like the earlier series, are likely to be household names.

"To this end scriptwriters will be interviewing real life people who will be involved in series four," she said.

"Part of the authenticity will be gained by spending as much time as possible with people involved in the series.

"What I can tell you Underbelly series four will be better and more compelling than the previous series."

Ms O'Brien said that when a writer gets the call to write Underbelly, they put everything aside .

Her credits as either a writer or script editor already include Blue Heelers, Water Rats, McLeod's Daughters, City Homicide, All Saints, State Coroner, Wild Side, Stingers, Broome, Dragonfly, High Tide, Murder File, Miracle At Sea, A Country Practice, Home and Away and Sea Patrol.

In addition she wrote the theme song for McLeod's Daughters, "Am I Crazy".

She will complete episode one of the coming series of the 13-part TV drama Rescue Special Ops before devoting her time totally to the Underbelly project.

By Don Mahoney
April 07, 2010
Mudgee Guardian