Centered around 9 twentysomethings living in an apartment block on The Esplanade in St Kilda, Melbourne, 'The Secret Life of Us' was "the most watched Australian drama in its target demographic of 16-39 year olds" when the show first went on air in June 2001. Some 1,394,262 Australians one week were counted watching that first year. 'The Secret Life of Us' which ran between 2001 and 2005 was also regarded an Australian cultural phenomenon.

In Sweden, 'The Secret Life of Us' was called 'Det Hemliga Livet', in Amsterdam, Netherlands 'Ons Geheime Leven', in Israel 'Chayeynu Hasodyim' and in the United States, 'The Secret Life of Us' won an award at the New York Festival in 2002 and could be seen on the cable network Trio. In Australia, 'The Secret Life of Us' won 2 Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards in 2001. Claudia Karvan told Debi Enker, "Shows like this don't come along very often and it's a great thing to be a part of. To be in Australia and to work for a whole 6 months, with great actors and fantastic directors, it's a godsend. I'd be happy to do something like this every year."

Initially, John Edwards told 'Fairfax Media', "We pitched a show about moral ambiguity. I did the whole philosophical thing about how we have to break new ground and they (channel Ten) gave us sixpence to go away and start, and we came back with a bunch of characters. They (channel Ten) were preoccupied with other stuff, so they let us experiment for a while, they let us play."

Amanda Higgs recounted, "When John and I were trying to find a buyer for the series in 1999, shopping our show around, I found it one of the hardest things to say - 'I'm a producer.' A producer?! The whole thing is a surreal experience ... The worst thing about my job are the expectations ... Before 'Secret Life', I'd worked on either legal shows or police drama, a world in which there's order. A crime is committed, a crime is solved and the world returns to order. With 'Secret Life', we wanted some grey areas. Less traditional storylines."

David Astle reported, "'Secret Life' made Australian television history with the UK's Channel 4 taking an option to invest in the 2-hour pilot and later co-financing the series." Amanda acknowledged, "The day Channel 4 agreed to come on board, it was like we'd won the lottery. I phoned up Judi (McCrossin). We were really excited - for about 6 seconds. We were like, wooooo! You know it's important, but then you think, oh God, what a big responsibility.

"We tried to cast the show out of Melbourne, but in the end two-thirds of the actors came from Sydney. I always wanted Joel (Edgerton) to play Will. Deb (Deborah Mailman) came in and prepared tests for both Alex and Kelly. Sibylla (Budd) was absolutely Liz (renamed Gabrielle). Deb did this screen test where she had to talk on her mobile phone and halfway through the test, she realised it was upside-down. She kinda giggled and slipped it up the right way, and I swear that was what got her the part. She gave this amazing smile. It was so Kelly."

Roger Hodgman was one of the 6 directors observed, "Amanda, in a sense, is the producer and script editor, which is incredibly taxing, but she couldn't let go of that - it's what she's brought to the show: that eye on the script, that eye on the story. The show is very much her vision." Amanda made known, "Originally we were thinking about Bondi, but Bondi is very different now from what it used to be. St Kilda is a mixture of artists, young professionals and the older residents who've been there forever.

"Everyone walks everywhere, there's so much movement in the space between Acland Street and Fitzroy Street. The bay is beautiful and there are the most incredible sunsets. There's life and energy and that's perfect for our show. Much of our show deals with the gap between men and women and the different ways they look at the world. Having the 2 voice-overs (Samuel Johnson and Deborah Mailman) lets us access things you wouldn't necessarily say in a conversation.

"Everyone said your teenage years in school were hard, but no-one told me how difficult my 20s were going to be. In your 20s you can do mad things, like OK, I'm going to completely change the way I look. I'm going to dress differently, become a different person. I remember thinking, when I was 20, 'OK, I'm not very cool, so I'll dress like a surfie chick.' That's what girls do - they rely on popular culture. I saw someone in a magazine, dressed like her, and therefore thought myself cool.

"My mum wanted me to be a pharmacist because that was a good career for a woman, a financially secure job. She was a bit horrified when I went off to uni to do Arts. 'What would you be when you left?' she asked. Well, nothing. Mum got cancer when I was 15. For most of the time she wasn't very well. Education was important to her. All the kids were really serious about school. Back then, it wasn't so much creative but about setting up your life and learning to support yourself. Mum wanted us to do what we wanted, but have a solid existence."

Amanda had worked under Baz Luhrmann, with Gillian Armstrong and in the United States with David E Kelley Productions, "In 'ER' we had a tone meeting where a writer talks about the intention of every scene with the director. That's something I use on 'Secret Life'. It's something that hasn't been done on other (Australian) shows. It's about writer and director communicating. Intentions have to be clear in every scene or it falls apart like a house of cards."

Claudia told 'Fairfax Media', "So I committed to 4 episodes, but when I saw the telemovie and I read the 4 scripts, I decided I'd like to do the whole thing. I was really surprised and excited by it. I don't think I'd ever seen anything like this on Australian television." Amanda mentioned, "We were trying to do something that wasn't a traditional medical drama, legal drama or police drama. I was a big fan of 'This Life' - John less so - but I thought that it was really about good storytelling, good scripts and good actors. And I thought that was something that we could do in Australia: it didn't rely on special effects or big budgets. With good scripts and a good cast, we could do character-based drama that wasn't necessarily about the world of cops."

John maintained, "In Australia, we've been making old-fashioned shows. They've been, philosophically, shows of a small town: here is our world, evil comes along every week, bumps into our world, we beat up evil and throw it out again, and we go on happily ever after. That's the 'Blue Heelers' paradigm, which applies to most of our drama. But there's a new wave: on American television, 'Buffy' ain't that, 'Dawson's Creek' ain't that, even 'Party of Five' ain't that. They are much more morally ambiguous."

Christopher Lee made the point, "Twentysomething characters are interesting and intriguing for writers to work with. In your 20s, you're still being asked a whole lot of questions by life, and we don't give the characters many answers. 'Secret Life' is about a group of people who are finding things out for the first time in their lives and having to work out life as they go along, and we've tried not to be prescriptive. We haven't plotted them in the normal way that you plot a TV show.

"What we were trying to avoid was what you could almost call it the television of last century: blokey cops, doctors and lawyers, a plot-driven show with superficial characters. On 'Secret Life', there's no plot, as such. There's just the depth of the characters and the questions that we ask them, the problems that we put in front of them. We treat each episode thematically: there's a theme that we deal with, and we use that theme to dig into the characters, rather than working out some sort of 3-act structure where a plot is developed."

Speaking to Anne Simpson of 'The Courier Mail' in 2001, Claudia Karvan pointed out, "I think most Australian series, like 'Water Rats', 'Blue Heelers' and 'All Saints' are telling moralistic tales or based in action-drama. 'The Secret Life of Us' is much more character-based. It isn't moralistic. It explores the many contradictions in people … We are shooting about 8 minutes a day, which is about double what you would shoot for a film but it doesn't feel like everything is faster. You do tend to do more thinking on your feet, which I like and you have a lot less time to play around with the myriad of choices for a scene and instead, go with your instincts. There is less tendency to intellectualise the process. The focus is intense, but there is less pressure on the little moments and more time to flesh a character out." 

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