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Heartbreak High | Backstage
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The official BBC Heartbreak High book

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The second Heartbreak High album featuring Died Pretty and Frente!


Chris Roache
Series Producer and Script Writer

As a member of the script department, where do you get your ideas for the episodes?

Ideas come from everywhere. From events which happened to us (The Script Department) at school, to stories in the daily newspaper. Sometimes we would borrow from ideas (All script departments "borrow") from other media. Sometimes we would see a location first and then think of a story to use it for. For example, the seal enclosure at the Manly Aquarium or the Ferry to Circular Quay.

Sometimes the specific talents of our cast would suggest stories. Drazic's roller blading and Sarah's ice skating abilities come to mind. Whatever the story, there was one factor that was essential to make it work: It had to touch the emotions of one of characters involved.

How do you decide when a character should leave?

There is no hard and fast rule but when coming up with new stories for a character gets too hard, we usually know that it is time to move them on. A good character should be able to sustain about 40 - 50 episodes before they burn out. Some exceptional characters like Drazic, Anita and Ryan go way beyond this, however. The life blood of the show was our ability to keep coming up with fresh new characters that fitted into our group.

Why did the opening titles change so much mid way through the final season?

Because we were having our biggest change of cast for over 80 hours, we felt that the titles needed to be updated in style too. It's surprising how quickly titles seem to date a series.

What was the reason behind changing schools?

The original school was redeveloped into a couple of hundred flats. It was on a large site and quite close to the beach and we always knew we would lose it one day. We made 130 episodes there and it served us well. Although, having been vacant for a number of years it wasn't exactly in tip top condition. Our production and script departments were housed in the school in what could best be described as primitive conditions. Cold in Winter and hot in Summer. Our new school, which happened to be at the opposite end of Sydney was much more modern but considerably smaller. We were much cosier there.

Where is the real Hartley Heights?

Sorry to say that there is no "Hartley Heights". The original school was in the southern suburb of Maroubra and the second school was in the northern suburb of Warriewood. We added "Heights" to the fictitous suburb's name to account for the extra trees and greenery around our new school.

Why did Heartbreak High end?

Unfortunately Heartbreak relied on a lot of local and international money to fun the production and one of the international broadcasters decided that it no longer wanted the show. Although we were set to do another series and had already plotted a number of scripts, there wasn't time to tie up the finances before production could commence. We all felt that the new cast were working well and there was still life in the show , however I was happy that were were able to tie up a lot of threads and end on a high note.

How long does it take an episode of HH, from writing to filming take to produce?

It takes about 8 to ten weeks to develop a script for one episode. Two episodes are then shot over a two week period and post production takes about another 5 weeks. That's about 15 weeks all up.

Script Writer/Editor Serge Lazareff played the part of Drazic's father in two episodes. Did you guys ever appear in the show?

Fortunately for the audience, no. However, at the new school the script department was housed in one of the demountable buildings opposite the basketball court. You can often see us in the distance working on future scripts!

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