Steve Bisley previously spoke with TV Flashback about his time on Police Rescue and Water Rats. He’s currently busy raising funds for a new mental health project, to help promote the cause TV Flashback caught up with Steve to find out about his time on the third and final series of Frontline.
1) How did you become involved with Frontline?
I was living in Leura, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. I was between agents at the time and was representing myself. One morning I got a call from Jane Kennedy and she asked me whether I would consider playing the role of the executive producer on the show. Bruno Lawrence a fantastic Kiwi actor had played the role in the first series but had sadly passed away. Jane asked me if I would consider flying to Melbourne to meet with the team to discuss. I did.
2) Had you seen the show before joining? Were you keen to join?
I had been an avid watcher of the series and loved it.
When I met with the Working Dog bunch in Melbourne, we sat around telling stories about E.P.’s we had all worked with and out of those stories and their take on the character, and some input from me, Prowsey was born.
3) What did you think of the documentary style of shooting? Did it make it easier or harder to perform?
I loved the way in which the show was shot. Rather than having a large camera with a bunch of technicians around it, the show was shot with small mostly hand held cameras, so I never felt restricted or constrained by the technical side of filming. We worked fast and that kept the energy levels up.
4) Working Dog are known for keeping a tight rein on the story and script and you’re known for adlibbing, did you manage to find a happy medium in that environment?
The storylines were fantastic and the scripts were really tight, so I rarely departed from the script, only went I felt like being naughty.
5) A lot of people praised Frontline for its accuracy, not just with journalism but with the entertainment industry as a whole, since you’ve worked in the entertainment industry for so long, how accurate do you think it was?
The scripts were not only funny, they were accurate, poignant, and politically corrosive.
And they educated people in how much bullshit there was, and is, in current affairs.
6) Graeme Prowse was hot headed, sexist and hard to work with (but he could play the game) how did you find it playing a character like that?
E.P.’s have no soul, that’s in the job description. He was an absolute delight to play.
7) You did an episode that was almost entirely shot with just you and guest star Jeremy Sims, what was that like to do? Did you enjoy the focus being on your character?
Yes, the episode was called ‘The Art Of the Interview’ and it showed how manipulative Prowsey was, especially in the way he massaged Rob Sitch’s character’s ego, to get exactly what he wanted from him.
8) Did you have a favourite episode or storyline?
No favourites, I loved them all, especially when I got to call someone a ‘soft cock’.
9) What was it like on set? Was it hard to keep a straight face sometimes?
I have never laughed so much in my life!
10) Do you think Frontline would still work now?
I think this world is more than ready for more Frontline.
11) Would you be keen to play Prowsey again if the opportunity presented itself?
In a heartbeat! Older now, but no wiser!
12) What will you treasure most from your time working on Frontline?
It is a rare thing in the industry to be trusted with a project that offered its performers such beautifully crafted stories and characters that live long in the hearts of the audience.
13) You’re currently fundraising for a big cause, tell us more about that?
I have a GoFundme campaign, running to raise funds for the awareness and prevention of suicide in Australia. I am riding a motorbike around Australia to form a network of cities and towns called ‘Compassionate Communities’ to help people better understand a problem that touches us all. We need all the help we can get! People can donate at: gf.me/u/ymbnst.
Thanks to Steve for great insight into one of Australia’s much loved and respected sitcoms. We’d love to see it back on screen. If you can donate, please make sure you do, it’s such a worthwhile cause.
You can see Steve in scenes from Frontline below: