Dan Wyllie in a scene from The Code.
Dan Wyllie in a scene from The Code. Simon Cardwell

New series The Code portrays a web of deceit and dark dealings

NEW Aussie political thriller The Code is winning awards before it has even gone to air.

The six-part drama, which stretches from the red desert of the outback to the cool corridors of Canberra, won two Australian Writers' Guild Awards earlier this month, including the Major AWGIE.

The mini-series was created by writer Shelley Birse, thanks to Screen Australia's Scribe Initiative.

"It's an opportunity for writers to spend some time developing ideas slowly," Birse told The Guide during a visit to The Code's Sydney set.

"I was in Israel at the time. It was the same time as the Arab Spring was just on the boil and two Australians were playing a very important role in getting those photographs and truth of that story out. Then, at the same time that was happening, Julian Assange was getting charged.

"I felt like there were these Australians at the forefront of changing the international conversation without necessarily having those traditional powerbases.

"It wasn't great wealth; it wasn't great connections; we weren't on the front pages for our sporting prowess. We were there because we were doing great things with our brains."

The Code slowly untangles a web of deceit and dark dealings sparked by a car crash in the desert which results in the death of a teenage girl.

Journalist Ned Banks' (Dan Spielman) investigation into the crash, with the help of his socially challenged but technologically brilliant brother Jesse (Ashley Zukerman), quickly throws him into a much larger conspiracy.

Puberty Blues star Dan Wyllie plays federal police officer Lyndon Joyce, who is responsible for tracking down the hackers who have unwittingly accessed some very dangerous information.

"I had one day off in between (filming) Puberty Blues and this, so I had a haircut on my day off and became a secret agent overnight," Wyllie laughed.

"In terms of my character, it's spoiler alert all over the place, but in essence we're tracking down hackers.

"I'm just trying to track down good guys and bad guys and those people in between. My character's got a good friend who's caught up in some morally grey areas, and he's got to deal with those ideas of betrayal and double dealing."

Birse serves as the show's creator, co-writer and producer. Her overarching role is similar to the show-runner model used in many US productions.

"Sometimes as an actor it's an added layer of pressure to have a producer or writer on set," Wyllie said.

"But this has been years in the making, so it was great to have her on hand."

Birse has penned scripts for everything from Blue Water High to Rush, All Saints and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, but she says being the so-called "show runner" on The Code is an exciting new development for the way Australian drama is made.

"I've been writing for 21 years and it's never been so inspiring," she said.

"When you look to the States, the creative talent pool that used to be working exclusively in the film industry is finding more and more the opportunity to tell really interesting, left-of-field, out-of-the-box stories is not on the big screen anymore; it's on TV.

"I feel like I'm riding the peak of the wave and it feels really extraordinary."

The Code premieres tonight at 8.30pm on ABC1.

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