Being part of the editorial team for Bill Bailey’s Wild West Australia was both a privilege and a joy.

In June 2023, Perpetual Entertainment extended an invitation to me to assume the role of Editor for a new program presented by Bill Bailey.

Because it had been a while since I'd worked on a factual program I was slightly unsure about whether I could do the show justice, also, I only had a vague familiarity with Bill.

But, after watching a YouTube clip of his I became an instant fan, and what initially began as hesitation quickly transformed into eager desperation to be part of the show.

Initially, Bill Bailey’s Wild West Australia was intended to fill a gap at Channel 4 after the original program pulled out at the last minute. This unexpected change meant a tight schedule with a scant six weeks to finalise each episode.

Working from home in Perth, I collaborated closely with Sydney based Post Producer, Valerie Foley for episodes 2 (Exmouth) and 3 (Perth) whilst my editorial counterpart, Emma McKenna, worked alongside Series Producer Roger Powers on episodes 1 (Albany) and 4 (Broome) in Sydney.

Thankfully, geographical distances weren’t a problem as we used Jump Desktop to remotely access the Avid systems at Perpetual's Sydney office while the Perth offices were being setup.

The system turned out to be exceptionally effective for remote collaboration as it eliminated the need for third-party I/O solutions like Evercast or Zoom via Blackmagic Web Presenter.

In addition to using FaceTime, Valerie and I could both chat and log in to the same computer and observe the same timelines and windows with virtually zero lag, it was as if we were side by side in the same room despite being 4000 kms apart. It was a seamless remote working experience.

In terms of our daily workflow, Valerie and I would start with a catch-up phone call, discussing an assortment of topics, mainly episodes of 90 Day Fiancé, until eventually shifting our focus to the show. Our schedules were staggered; I would work early in the morning, and Valerie would take over late in the evening. We would then reconvene the next day.

With remote access to the Nexus, Valerie could prepare segments by piecing together ‘pods’, marking up soundbites then pass it over to me for polishing. She would also draft any necessary narration which would eventually get a passover by David Alrich our esteemed Executive Producer, which would then ultimately be rewritten by Bill himself.

However, as the deadline approached and our workload increased, we began dividing and conquering. I would assemble a story while Valerie tackled another, after which we would share feedback and observations on what was effective and what wasn't. For the Perth episode, the first to be edited, we had about 16 segments to fit into the 47-minute program. Numerous segments were filmed, but as is often the case, not everything made it into the final cut.

We were fortunate to be given a lot of freedom to shape the style and tone of the show always adhering to David’s primary directive of making it thoroughly 'Bill-focused’, showcasing Bill's distinctive character and humour, with less importance placed on facts and figures. And of course, showcasing our gorgeous state shot by the talented WA cinematographer, Paul Bell.

The show's initial plan was to chronologically follow Bill’s journey across various locations in Western Australia, starting in Albany in the south, moving through the capital Perth, heading to Exmouth, and concluding in Broome. Yet during the cut, we discovered that to enhance the show's pacing, it made more narrative sense to shuffle his geographic odyssey.

After the Perth office was set up, I joined local professionals: Production Manager Ruby Schmidt, Assistant Editor Saxon Wright, and James Clark, who managed the online. Nick Gallagher’s team at Cue Sound handled all the sound sweetening while Noah Norton provided titles and GFX.

The project was proudly shot, mastered, and delivered from Western Australia.

Editing the show was a fun venture for all and if given the opportunity, would absolutely do it again without hesitation.

Much to the astonishment of everyone, after Channel 4 reviewed the rough edits, the series was promoted from its position as a fill-in to a much-coveted prime time slot, airing Sundays at 9 pm in the UK. In Australia, the series premiered on ABC iView on Thursday evenings at 8pm.

All four episodes are now available on ABC iView.

Regg Skwarko ASE Member