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Mr & Mrs Murder clean up crime
Mr & Mrs Murder clean up crime

They're partners in crime scene clean-ups whose only beef is with criminals, not with each other. Meet Charlie and Nicola Buchanan, television's latest Hazmat-suited, latex-gloved crime solvers, an odd couple with a love of looking for clues and, more surprising on television these days, each other.

Mr and Mrs Murder marks the long- awaited reunion of Shaun Micallef and Kat Stewart, last seen together in 2008 on SBS comedy news show Newstopia.

On paper they're an unlikely match; Micallef is the legal eagle turned comic genius behind various incarnations of The Micallef Project, host of Ten's Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation and ABC news review Mad as Hell.

Stewart turned swearing into an art form with her portrayal of gangland wife Roberta Williams in the original Underbelly, then won us over with her neuroses as Billie Proudman in Offspring.

Over lunch in a boat shed in the Melbourne seaside suburb of Williamstown on an uncharacteristically hot Melbourne day, Micallef and Stewart chat enthusiastically about the show and how Ten head of drama Rick Maier apparently said yes to the project in 30 seconds.

"It's one of those odd meetings I've never had before and probably never will have in the future, where within literally 30 seconds Rick Maier said yes," says Micallef.

"He had a pitch document in front of him and he just interrupted us and said 'Well look, let me just say now, yes'. It was an hour-long meeting and we really had nothing else to talk about."

Micallef wouldn't have done the show without Stewart.

"I don't think either of us thought it would be that long before we'd work together again. She became really popular, everyone wanted to work with her," he says.

"I always wanted to work with Shaun again, I loved doing Newstopia and having seen him do other things and being very funny and doing serious work," adds Stewart. "I remember him very clearly from his SeaChange days, well before I knew him, and thought it would be fun to do something different."

Their rapport is obvious but Micallef says he doesn't want to analyse it in case it goes away. Stewart says she was "a bit starstruck" when she first auditioned for Newstopia and almost ruined it.

"I was a big fan of Shaun's and I completely blanked; I just had a moment and thought 'I ruined it'," she confesses.

"It was that human element I really liked; if she'd been too good she'd have been a threat and I wouldn't have had her on," Micallef jokes.

Micallef calls the 13-part Mr and Mrs Murder a drama with humour.

"There's a bit of blood implied, it remains to be seen how much of it ends up on camera," he says. "We are not waist deep in it. It's not grizzly in the way some shows are. It's no Dexter.

"Jason (Stevens, producer) thought it was a nice area to explore dramatically, the idea of a trauma cleaner, and what would cause someone to embrace it as a profession.

"It is quite a recent phenomenon but we did go out and speak to the real deal here in Victoria and there are not that many of them. Usually it is left up to the suffering family of a victim to clean up a scene if it is particularly bloody or gruesome, so that was an interesting area.

"These two characters enjoy each other's company and work together; it is just a pretty gruesome line of business they are in. Part of it is also trying to create a marriage on television or a partnership on television that is not based on them nipping at each other all the time and having problems."

"They complete each other, they are really happy together and the drama and tension comes from the situations they find themselves in, instead of the relationship itself," adds Stewart.

"I think their marriage is most alive when they are discovering things together; they are probably quite unusual people on their own but together they make sense.

"I find it refreshing. I have played a lot of spiky characters and characters in conflict, and it is really nice to play someone who is genuinely happy, who actually believes she could turn her hand to anything."

Completing the small core cast are Jonny Pasvolsky as Detective Peter Vinetti, an old flame of Nicola's who calls on their help with the dirty work and Lucy Honigman as Nicola's reluctant helper and live-in niece Jess.

Guests throughout the series will include Vince Colosimo, Diana Glenn, Kate Ritchie, Ewan Leslie, Stephen Curry and Anthony Hayes.

  • Sue Yeap visited Melbourne as a guest of Network Ten.

Mr and Mrs Murder premieres next Wednesday at 8.30pm on Ten.