AWARD WINNING: Bellingen screen writer Shelley Birse won this year's top writing award at the Australian Writers' Guild Awards.
AWARD WINNING: Bellingen screen writer Shelley Birse won this year's top writing award at the Australian Writers' Guild Awards. Keagan Elder

The Code award winner

THE open green landscape of Bellingen helped television series writer Shelley Birse escape the dark reality she had created in multi-award winning cyber-thriller The Code.

"I was in a dark space with the writing,” she said.

"(Bellingen) is such an antidote for some of the intense stories.”

The second season to the ABC series, which explored the value of freedom of speech and balance between national security and national liberty in the digital age, recently finished screening on air.

Shelley said the research stages behind writing the TV show drew her to some dark corners and joked ASIO may have taken an interest in her search history.

"It's given me a healthy dose of paranoia,” she said.

Her focus and storytelling on political backstabbing and the dark web won this year's top writing award at the Australian Writers' Guild's 49th Annual AWGIE Awards, for the second season of The Code.

The Code also won the AWGIE Award for the Television: Miniseries - Original category.

Shelley said she was surprised to win the awards because of the quality of the other shows she was up against such as Cleverman, Wentworth, Wolf Creek, Please Like Me and Glitch.

This explosion of quality in Australian television marked a turning point for Shelley, who believes it is well worth a place on the world's stage.

She said The Code may get an American reformat but she believed it would be one of the last shows to do so as shows in its original state are adopted around the world.

"We're coming to the end of that because people's appetites have become so global,” she said.

"They're enjoying that uniqueness of that (original) voice.”

Shelley said Australian television and film had now broken away from its stereotype shaped by the likes of Crocodile Dundee and no longer needed to feature blue skies, surfers or dangerous animals.

Shelley moved to Bellingen about 10 years ago and said her roots had now grown deep.

Shelley is working on a new idea and the award allowed her extra time, but was a double-edged sword as pressure mounted to write another quality show.



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