Local ‘gold’ shines in ABC’s Gold Diggers

July 5th, 2023Local ‘gold’ shines in ABC’s Gold Diggers

There’s bound be quite a few local households glued to their teev screens for this evening's premiere screening of new ABC comedy series Gold Diggers.

Words: Eve Lamb. Images: Supplied

There’s bound be quite a few local households glued to their teev screens for this evening’s premiere screening of new ABC comedy series Gold Diggers.

Not only does the new ABC TV and ABC iview series promise a uniquely comedic romp through the old central Victorian gold mining era, it also features many current locals from the wider Daylesford, Castlemaine and Ballarat area, who were extras for filming of the series that took place early this year.

The debut series was largely filmed at local locations including Maldon’s Porcupine Village which series producer Muffy Potter of KOJO Studios (that co-produced the series) says was just perfect as it’s already an 1850’s historical gold mining themed tourism attraction.

Gold Diggers is a riotous, rapid-fire, eight-part series that follows Gert and Marigold (played by Claire Lovering and Danielle Walker), two sisters who move to the gold fields in the 1850’s in the hopes of catching newly-rich idiots to marry.

The dialogue is modern and brilliantly witty, featuring modern day lingo that jars hilariously with the 1850’s setting.

“In total we had 72 extras from the local area,” said Muffy, speaking to The Local in recent days about what it was like filming in Regional Victoria amongst the rich gold rush history, and why it was important to cast some locals in the series.

“It was really important to us to find a group of locals from the area,” she said.

This was partly due to their ready availability on set when required, but the wealth of historical local knowledge held by those who reside in the area also came in extra handy during filming as well.

“Many of the locals (who were extras during filming) knew a lot about the gold rush and were happy to pass on that information,” the series producer said.

“We even had one local extra who was able to tell us that we weren’t using one of the props properly.”

Considerable effort was made to faithfully capture historical details and intricacies of the time with the production team also worked with local historian Fred Cahir.

“I should say that this is not a history lesson. It has a modern vernacular, but we were trying to stay true to history,” Muffy says.

“It (the gold rush era) was an incredibly exciting moment in history and a lot of story lines were very much inspired by actual events.”

Some of the shenanigans, that history indicates occurred on the old goldfields, are just one aspect that the series aims to honour.

“By all accounts there was a great deal of partying in the goldfields,” Muffy muses.

She also says it’s pretty interesting to see just how many issues from back then are still issues today.

“It’s surprising how relevant 1850s issues can relate to contemporary issues – like the evolution of feminism, society’s’ approach to equality – racial equality and gender equality. Also the distribution of wealth was very much an issue then as it is today.”

There is no doubt, though that Gold Diggers is “a comedic romp” the series producer says.

“Comedy pushes the boundaries and the envelope and goes to contemporary issues. Good comedy can push the boundaries when it comes to social issues.”

Muffy says about 50 percent of the filming for the series was done in the area, much of it at Maldon’s Porcupine Village with some scenes also shot at a couple of locations in Newstead and at a farming property at Baringhup West, just out of Maldon.

Muffy says filming had originally been planned to take place primarily at a location in South Australia, with the Maldon area initially down among the secondary alternative options. But when she visited Maldon and its unique historically themed Porcupine Village the series producer knew they’d struck gold.

“The (village) property had been put up for sale in 2020 and somebody sent me the ad,” she said.

“Once I walked down that street I knew that was our town. There are still diggings at the Porcupine Village. It felt really right”

While Gold Diggers premieres on ABC TV and ABC iview this evening, Wednesday July 5 at 9.10pm, Muffy says the series was always intended for an international audience.  This means that the central Victorian goldfields locality is destined to be showcased far and wide.

“The intention of this show is for the global marketplace and to show off this part of the world is very exciting,” Muffy said.

“It’s been fantastic to explore that local area. It’s absolutely stunning.”

She says that the producers are also “very hopeful” that this first series of Gold Diggers will be followed by a second series. Should that turn out to be the case, there’s no doubt, Muffy says, that the cast and crew will be returning to Maldon and the wider goldfields locality.

“We hope to have a series two and we would definitely return to the area and to Porcupine Village. We couldn’t afford to build something like that.”

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