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From Newcastle to London and back again


It’s London, 1988, and Simone Burbeck’s life appears perfect.

She lives in a mansion with her perfect husband and children and her life is a merry-go-round of expensive renovations, dinner parties and school fundraisers.

However, there is just one problem: it’s all lies.

When her husband has a fatal heart attack in a disastrous session with a prostitute, Simone becomes broke, homeless and a social outcast.

With no other options and two teenage children to look after, she is forced to return to her family home in Newcastle, Australia.

Nothing about Simone is what it appears to be, and the life she ran away from more than 20 years ago slowly pulls her back in.

Frayed is an Australian and British television comedy drama series on ABC TV and Sky UK.

Writer and lead actress, Sarah Kendall, was born and raised in Newcastle.

The world of Frayed is the one of her childhood.

She described it as a time where long stretches of beautiful coastland were lined with weatherboard shacks, old miner’s cottages and council housing – a narrow world of quiet streets and corner shops, in which everyone knew each other.

“I lived in Newcastle for 18 years and I’ve been in London for 19 years,” she tells Newcastle Weekly.

“They are two very different worlds that I’ve lived in.

“A place like Newcastle makes no sense to a UK audience.
“It’s an industrial heartland plonked on the most beautiful beaches in the world, so it’s really unique to an overseas audience.”

For Kendall, a stand-up comedian-turned-actress, playing the role of Simone has been a satisfying experience.
“It’s been fun to take an arrogant, liar of a wealthy woman and then go: ‘Actually, she’s not that person’, and land her back in Newcastle,” Kendall says.

“She ran away 20 years ago, and no-one is too pleased to see her, so it becomes: Who was she? Why did she run away? What was the disconnect?”

Kendall stars alongside fellow Newcastle born actor Ben Mingay (Jim), who is best known for his roles in Packed to the Rafters and Wonderland.

Apart from Frayed, Kendall has also told three stories, all set in the world of Newcastle in the 1980s, on her BBC Radio 4 series Australian Triology.

The stories, a mixture of comedy and tragedy, went on to win the BBC Audio Drama Award, The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award, and a Silver Aria.

Kendall adds it may go into a third season but will depend on whether Frayed is granted a second series.

Frayed airs on ABC and ABC iview on Wednesdays from 9.10pm.

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