Kiwis have been watching the West family in Outrageous Fortune and Westside for nearly 15 years. The show's creator James Griffin, and star Antonia Prebble tell Siena Yates why the Wests have lasted the distance.
For nearly 15 years, Kiwi audiences have been entertained by the adventures and misdemeanours of the notorious West family.
Since Outrageous Fortune hit our screens in 2005, we've lived with the Wests through six seasons of Fortune and four seasons of its prequel spin-off series Westside, which launched in 2015 and returns for its fifth season next week.
This season will see the West family hit its 150th episode - a milestone only the likes of Shortland Street and cult favourite The Tribe, have ever reached.
James Griffin, who created Outrageous Fortune and Westside, has worked across all 150 episodes, yet didn't see that "little milestone" coming.
"It's funny, you don't keep score so you don't really think about it… but 150 hours of the Wests on television… who would've thought?" he muses.
For him, just having the Kiwi public love and relate to the Wests so much is reward enough.
"It's humbling, the fact that it seems to have been taken to heart. It's well over a decade now and people are still coming back… so to get this body of work is humbling and flattering," he says.
"You really are just head down in your own little world and you just hope that people get on board, and thus far they have. Hopefully they will continue to do so because I'm not quite finished with [the Wests]. The best thing is that I still quite like them as a bunch of people to write... and they're still capable of surprising me with new and interesting ways to upset the apple cart."
Kiwi star Antonia Prebble has been a part of almost every episode, playing Loretta West in Outrageous Fortune before taking on the role of Rita West in Westside.
Like Griffin, she didn't see the 150th episode milestone coming but isn't at all surprised it's here because the show keeps things fresh.
"These are really interesting characters who are capable of anything, so it still feels like a novelty in many ways. Every time I go back to do a series it never feels stale, despite the fact it's now 150 episodes on," she says.
That, and the Wests encapsulate something about Kiwis that audiences love; the underdog spirit.
"We're kind of a country of underdogs, so I think that's part of the appeal... this innate Kiwi battler spirit that people feel proud to relate to as opposed to feeling like they need to shy away from," she says.
"The Wests are all really strong characters, but they're not ruling the world you know? I think people really respond to the fact that they are quite salt of the earth and grounded… I think we recognise ourselves in those sorts of people.
"I'm always so delighted to hear how much people do relate to the characters. I'd say at least 70 to 80 per cent of the comments that I get are like, 'Oh my gosh, my Auntie Karen is just like Rita' or 'People tell me I'm just like Loretta' or 'My family's just like the West family', and it happens again and again.
Similarly, when speaking about when he first pitched Outrageous Fortune to local networks, Griffin says: "At the time, TV3 (now Three) said to us, 'Give us something that we can't buy, that will make people watch New Zealand drama.'
"And it turns out that what you can't buy overseas is the New Zealand family and all its kind of shabby, slightly amoral, beautiful, weird and wonderful thorns. You can't get that anywhere else."
Who: James Griffin and Antonia Prebble
What: Celebrating 150 episodes of the West family
When: Westside, season 5 airs 8.30pm Monday on Three