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Queenstown and Auckland-based production company Great Southern Television is behind a new comedy drama with the star of Outrageous Fortune which debuts on TV One later this month.
Robyn Malcolm leaves behind the leopard-print skirts and fish pies of the formidable matriarch Cheryl West to play a naive, unassertive and way-too-trusting real estate rookie in Agent Anna.
Anna Kingston (Malcolm) is forced to reinvent herself as a real estate agent at the age of 47 when her husband abandons her with two teenage daughters at private school and a mountain of debt.
Anna soon finds her skills as a muffin baker do not help in the cut-throat world of real estate.
Malcolm said she always felt real estate would be an interesting profession to centre a drama around and it seemed many real estate agents came from somewhere else first.
''I was interested in what would happen if we had a Pollyanna, an unskilled, `nice' middle class mum who needs money, needs an identity because of her past and is utterly unprepared,'' she said.
''What would happen if she fell into this world of sharks and commissions and deals.
''I verbally pitched all this to Rachel Gardner and Phil Smith at Great Southern Television.
''I'd been told previously that real estate was not good subject matter for TV, but I felt that because I was interested in it, at least someone else might be. Fortunately, Rachel and Phil were `with bells on'.''
Producer-developer Rachel Gardner (The Cult, The Pretender, Apron Strings), of Auckland, said yesterday it was ''a real coup'' to be able to work with Malcolm.
''She wanted to play a character who had no hint of the hero about her. The reality is we all do stupid things and make fools of ourselves.
''We pitched it to TVNZ and developed it over the course of eight months, then went into production over the winter and post-production in November. We have high hopes for it, as does TVNZ. They've really supported it by putting it in a prime time spot.
''It's really great for a company based in the South Island to produce scripted comedy and we hope all New Zealand will enjoy it.''
- Agent Anna, premieres on TV One, January 31, 8.30pm.