Diplomatic Immunity: Musical time!

For once, it is Kiwi diplomat Leighton (Craig Parker) who must try to save the Fe’ausians from their own greed in local comedy Diplomatic Immunity (tonight at 10pm on TV ONE). The Fe’ausians plan to sink all the money they have made from phosphate mining Kakapu Atoll into an extremely dodgy West End musical.

Of course, most of the staff at the Auckland embassy of The Most Royal Kingdom of Fe’ausi get bitten by the theatrical bug and want roles in the musical, whose show-stopping numbers include, naturally, a big fat finale called Knocked The Bugger Off.

If that isn’t bad-taste enough, Ed! The Musical takes shameless liberties with the established facts about New Zealand’s greatest bee-keeping mountain-climber, making it all the more important that Leighton prevent this abomination from ever reaching the stage. The problem is that the Fe’ausians are deaf to everything but the theatre maxim, “the show must go on”.

Jonah (Dave Fane), the charming and effusive (but also cunning and amoral) head of the consulate, is less than impressed at Leighton’s interference in his money-making ideas and makes his annoyance plain. “After Ed! The Musical we’ll be so rich we’ll buy New Zealand and have it towed to Antarctica, just so we don’t have to look at it!”

If you’ve been thinking that Fane’s role fits him like a glove, you’d be right – series creator James Griffin, one of the writing duo behind Outrageous Fortune, wrote the part especially for him. And that felt pretty good, says Fane, whose television credits include Outrageous Fortune and bro’Town.

In fact, the feeling was “sort of like the first day you turn up to school. You feel pretty special and you feel like you’re pretty damned hot – and you feel honoured that someone the calibre of James thought of you.

“It’s like in the words of [the 1967 Sidney Poitier movie] To Sir With Love: “how can you thank someone who’s taken you from crayons to perfume?”

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