Erik Thomson will be joined by a stellar trans-Tasman cast in South Pacific Pictures new drama series 800 Words.

800 Words, produced by New Zealand’s South Pacific Pictures for the Seven Network, is a heart-warming comedy-drama series built around newly-widowed George Turner’s decision to start afresh and take his teenage kids from Sydney to the New Zealand coastal town of Weld, where George spent his summer holidays as a child.

Thomson (Packed to the Rafters, All Saints, Always Greener, The Black Balloon) plays the lead role of George and will be joined by Australian actors Melina Vidler (The Arrangement, Mako: Island of Secrets) and Bensen Jack Anthony (Underbelly Razor, Blood Brothers, Legend of the Seeker) who play his teenage children, Shay and Arlo Turner.

Rick Donald (Friends with Better Lives, House Husbands, The Doctor Blake Mysteries) features as George’s new best mate Woody, a fellow Aussie-import and keen surfer while Bridie Carter (McLeod’s Daughters) guest stars as Jan, George’s former Sydney editor.

A bevy of local women are quick to offer help to George as he makes his new life in New Zealand. They are:

-       artist Katie, played by Anna Jullienne (Shortland Street, The Blue Rose);

-       ambulance driver and businesswoman Fiona, played by Michelle Langstone (McLeod’s Daughters, The Almighty Johnsons, Go Girls);

-       young surfing goddess Hannah, played by Cian Elyse White (Tatau, Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud);

-       and local teacher Tracey, who also hails from Australia and is played by Emma Leonard (Home & Away, Wonderland).

Rounding out the cast as the locals of Weld are New Zealand screen acting stalwarts Peter Elliott (Heavenly Creatures, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Primeval New Zealand, Artsville) and John Leigh (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Outrageous Fortune, Kidnapped), along with Jonathan Brugh (What We Do In The Shadows, The Jaquie Brown Diaries), Alex Tarrant (Nothing Trivial – the finale, Tatau, Totes Maori), Manon Blackman (Nothing Trivial), Olivia Tennet (When We Go to War, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Power Rangers RPM, Maddigan’s Quest) and Reon Bell (Westside, The Kick, Shortland Street).

Chris Hampson (Hope & Wire, White Lies, Kaitangata Twitch) is producing 800 Words and Executive Producers include Kelly Martin (Westside, Step Dave, Shortland Street, The Brokenwood Mysteries), Chris Bailey (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Nothing Trivial, Go Girls) and Seven Network’s Head of Drama Julie McGauran. The show was co-created by James Griffin (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons, Westside) and Maxine Fleming (Being Eve).

Australia’s Pino Amenta (Wentworth, Winners & Losers, Packed to the Rafters) and New Zealand’s Mike Smith (Siege, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Underbelly: Lang of the Long Green Cloud) are directing the series which will screen on Channel Seven in Australia and TV One in New Zealand.