Unlike most TV comedy duos, Claire Lovering (North Shore, Class of ’07, Wellmania) and Danielle Walker (Taskmaster, get Krack!n) did not have a history of performing together prior to their first ABC comedy series, Gold seekers.
Both met during the audition process, impressing the creatives with their chemistry and cast around Christmas 2022.
Within weeks they were reading the script on zoom for a huge number of television executives, including US bigwigs.
“There were about 60 people on the zoom, including the head of CBS and the president of CBS. I’ve never seen so much involvement and hands-on approach,” says Lovering TV tonight.
“It’s Danni’s first acting role and my first leading role. We were learning a lot and under a lot of pressure. There was a lot of responsibility and pressure that the show was going to be made or broken about our relationship and chemistry. Because of this we really looked out for each other, supported each other, almost ‘bonded by trauma’ and grew closer every day.
The period comedy is produced by KOJO Studios and Stampede Ventures in association with CBS Studios for ABC. With CBS involved it also meant there were US executives on set, including Greg Silverman whose credits include 10 Things I Hate About You, Jersey Boys, Unforgettable, Arthur, Lego Movie 2 and more.
“Greg Silverman, told Danni, ‘There are only two reasons I would be here. Either things are going wrong and I’m here to fix them, or things are going really well and I want to be associated with that.’ And he said, it’s the latter. We took that to be a good thing,” Lovering said.
“You just want to pretend no one’s watching”
The pair admit it was just a little intimidating to have suits on set.
“It can just feel a little stressful when you think about people criticizing you,” Walker said.
“Especially when you’re shooting a comedy and you just want to pretend nobody’s watching. It can enter your head thinking ‘People are watching, and it’s the money people. They did this long-haul flight to be here to see if it works,'” added Lovering.
Gold seekers is created by ex Totally Wild / Saturday Disney presenter Jack Yabsley (Mikki against the world, teases you a lot, like doing good things) who wrote the pilot episode about a set of vomit bags on a plane to Bali.
“Jack started writing it seven years ago as a project for some of his nice female friends as a web series. He set it in a gold rush town because his ex-girlfriend’s parents had an Airbnb that looked like that. So it was like I shot it there,” Lovering explains.
“We got on board right at the end.”
“Over the years it’s evolved and it’s snowballed and it’s been picked up by different companies and let go…it’s all finally clicked with ABC, CBS and Kojo. I think he’s a lot bigger than he expected, and then we got on board right at the end.
“Jack had about 7 other writers. He was the only straight white man. He made sure he had people of every other ethnicity, sexuality to try to make up for what he lacked in the chromosome area,” recalls Walker.
“Any experience, or voice represented, is written by someone who authentically is. So, he definitely outsourced a lot. But when I read the show bible and its director’s statement, there was one line that I really loved: ‘I wrote this show for two funny women to do just that: be funny,’” says Lovering.
“I thought it was cool that that was his starting point.
“Plot-wise, it’s about two sisters running away from their pasts and trying to find a rich new husband in the gold fields. It’s contemporary vernacular and humor, but set in 1853. It’s bold, brash, irreverent, silly, stupid, crazy, any of those words.
“We are two girls looking for a better life”
“We’re two girls looking for a better life,” suggests Walker. “If they were dealing with all these issues, in a modern way, maybe it would seem a bit ‘on the nose.’ I think in the past, you were trying to have the basic necessities of life…so it’s an easier place to start from.
“We talk like 2023 girls and make very contemporary references. The hope is that the audience can connect with us, relate to us, have fun, but also laugh at the problems,” notes Lovering.
Filming took place in Maldon in an unused replica of a colonial town for saleaccidentally discovered by the producers.
The cast includes Eddie Perfect, Luke Mullins, Michala Banas, Aaron McGrath, Kartanya Maynard, George Zhao, Susan ann-Walker, Heather Walker and Lincoln Younes.
“She has a flawless French accent. She does physical comedy in a bloody skirt.”
Megan Wilding (Mystery Road: Origin, pictured above) is an absolute scene-stealer as ex-best friend Francesca L’Estrange.
“It’s a tricky role, because she’s playing a double reality all the time as a ‘French aristocrat,’ but also as our old best friend with that twinkle in her eye who says, ‘Don’t you dare say anything!'” Amare explains. “She balances it so beautifully. She has a flawless French accent, she does physical comedy in a bloody skirt. She was also in the writers room, so she contributed a lot to the storyline. Jack is a huge fan and wrote the role of her for her.
Semisi Cheekam also stands out (Hard) as a young entrepreneur, Kelvin.
“She’s an absolutely beautiful angel!” says Walker. “He is 16 year’s old. He is the best in all his classes at school. He is also the rugby captain and is an actor. He is absolutely amazing and adorable.
Both Lovering and Walker are hoping for a second season if the series is well received.
“We have absolutely no idea yet. Who knows?” Walker replies.
“We’ll see how it lands. We’ve definitely signed options, so there’s hope for that,” agrees Lovering. “But it just depends if it resonates. I guess I’ll stay off Twitter!
Gold Diggers airs Wednesdays at 9:05 pm on ABC.