23 February 2024

BBC's Return to Paradise is filming in the Illawarra - and they want you

| Dione David
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Three people crowd around a film camera on Coledale Beach

Screen Illawarra’s Holly Trenaman (centre), pictured here on set of her short film Dating Violet in her hometown of Coledale, says no experience is required to be a Return to Paradise extra. Photo: Gracie Clinton.

“Outdoorsy” Illawarra locals have the chance to feature on the upcoming BBC show Return to Paradise, with no acting experience required.

A homegrown spinoff of the popular British Death in Paradise, Return to Paradise is set to hit our shores for filming in the Illawarra from mid-March to early June.

Producers are currently calling for paid extras to appear on the show, which combines the DNA of the original global smash hit murder mystery series with an Aussie flavour.

Set in the idyllic, beachside hamlet of “Dolphin Cove” (i.e. the spectacular backdrop of the Australian coastal landscape), Return to Paradise comprises six gripping, twisting and fiendishly clever murder mysteries.

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While most indoor scenes will be shot in Sydney studios, outdoor shots will take place at various Illawarra locations, according to the show’s extras casting assistant, Screen Illawarra’s Holly Trenaman.

“It is a show about Aussie paradise after all – palm trees and pristine beaches. What better place than the Illawarra?” she says.

“We’re looking for local runners, surfers, yogis – anyone outdoorsy who can contribute to that ‘paradise’ narrative.”

Austinmer Beach

We don’t need more proof that the Illawarra is paradise, but it has been selected as the backdrop to the BBC’s Return to Paradise anyway. Photo: Guillaume David.

She says with no acting experience required, anyone can be an extra, and it’s one pathway for anyone interested in the industry to get involved in production.

“I started as an extra while at film school. It’s a great way to get on-set experience, even if you’re just curious,” she says.

“There’s no audition or anything scary – you need only be interested and available to apply.”

Selections take place on an ongoing basis from now until the conclusion of filming.

Extras are paid award rates to commit to 10-hour filming days, and producers are looking for a diverse range of people.

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Holly says listing special skills such as surfing or yoga will help with the selection for certain scenes. They’re also looking for professional runners.

For candidates who don’t have agents, a ‘Go-See’ will be held later this week at Headlands Hotel in Austinmer.

“Many producers will only work with people already in the business, who have extras experience or agents. We are happy to hear from all locals, including people who haven’t thought of acting before,” she says.

Headshot of Screen Illawarra's Holly Trenaman

Holly says the filming of Return to Paradise scenes in the Illawarra creates opportunities for local screen industry talent. Photo: Sally Flegg Photography.

Holly says Screen Illawarra, which works to raise the profile of the region in order to foster local talent, is thrilled to have made it possible for the producers to film here.

“We have an enormous amount of film industry talent down here, and we want to create opportunities for them right here on their home turf,” she says.

“We want to prove that there’s a lot of talent here ready to work.”

Return to Paradise is produced by BBC Studios Productions Australia with Red Planet Pictures for the ABC in association with the BBC, who will screen the series on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK.

The first Go-See will be held at Headlands Hotel in Austinmer on Wednesday 28 February from 10 am to 4 pm. To book your 10-minute timeslot or be considered for a role as an extra, simply send in your name, mobile number and a photo to [email protected]

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