A new feel-good drama is bound to strengthen trans-Tasman relations.

Called 800 Words, the show is an Australia-New Zealand co-production that's expected to be a hit with heavy promotion in the Australian Media and across the Seven Network over the past week.

The man with the golden pen, Outrageous Fortune writer and former Canvas columnist James Griffin, along with fellow star writer Maxine Fleming have written the new series.

First look at new dramedy with Erik Thomson coming soon.

The show is mainly shot in New Zealand with a few opening scenes in Sydney. The series is produced by South Pacific Pictures and Seven Network Australia.


It follows newly-widowed George Turner who decides to start afresh and take his teenage kids from Sydney to the New Zealand coastal town of Weld, where Turner spent his summer holidays as a child.

Australia will get to see the series first when it premieres on Tuesday night on Channel 7.

Weld could well be New Zealand's own Summer Bay as it has been shot at the beaches surrounding West Auckland including Piha and Muriwai. Spy hears the Aussie promo picture for the series feature golden sand, so the Aussies are in for a fright when they see our rugged west coast.

The show's star is former ex-pat actor Erik Thomson of Packed to the Rafters fame. Spy has heard Thomson is the glue that brought Channel 7 and South Pacific Pictures together through Griffin.

Griffin: "I've known Erik for ages, off and on, since the mid-90's when we were both working on a series called Plainclothes. When the idea Max and I had come up with found its way to Channel 7 and word came back that they were interested in looking at it as a vehicle for Erik, it made perfect sense for me.

"Heck, Erik was in so many ways George, right down to the surfing elements of the story."

George is a columnist much like Griffin was for Canvas magazine, writing, on average, 800 words a week.

Griffin: "For many years now, twelve, to be exact, I wrote a weekly column for Canvas, the magazine supplement of the weekend edition of The New Zealand Herald, New Zealand's biggest selling newspaper. Each of these columns is meant to be about 800 words long, give or take. And in my column I can write about absolutely anything I want, from politics and religion to my pet peeves and the minutiae of everyday life.

"As a result of this free-range brief I meet people who tell me they feel like they're following my life through whatever nonsense is on my mind any given week. As a result of this I thought it would be fun for George to have a similar column, and that his life - and the life of his kids - would be filtered through this column. Each episode of 800 Words is framed by George's column, by what he's thinking about and how the town of Weld reacts."

When the locals of Weld find out he is writing about their town, any hope of a quiet transition into a new life for the Turner clan is very quickly dashed. The Aussie invaders become the centre of attention and George becomes the focus of the 'Women of Weld' - four single women who will become big players in whatever future awaits him.

New Zealand actors Cian Elyse White, Michelle Langstone and Anna Jullienne, and Australia's Emma Leonard, from 800 Words.
New Zealand actors Cian Elyse White, Michelle Langstone and Anna Jullienne, and Australia's Emma Leonard, from 800 Words.

The 'Women of Weld' includes New Zealand actors Cian Elyse White, Michelle Langstone and Anna Jullienne, and Australia's Emma Leonard.

South Pacific Pictures is thrilled with the result for New Zealand of an Australian funded show.

South Pacific Pictures CEO Kelly Martin told Spy: "The exciting part of a co-production like 800 Words is that it broadens the number of hours of New Zealand-made drama and it is a great opportunity to showcase the talents of our local creatives, actors and crew on both sides of the Tasman.

"One of the initial pieces of feedback we received from the commissioners at Channel 7 was that they really wanted to see the lush greenness and the beautiful vistas of New Zealand. They were very specific that they wanted this show to look different from Australia."

On Erik Thomson's conduit role she said: "Erik is well-known and loved on both sides of the Tasman. He's a huge star in Australia but he still considers New Zealand home, so the series that James and Maxine have created is the perfect story for him - we couldn't envisage anyone else doing it."

TVNZ will showcase 800 Words at its season launch next Wednesday.