Get set to meet the new generation of McLeods! The creator of hit TV series McLeod's Daughters, Posie Graeme-Evans, is busy writing the script for the McLeod's movie, and it's going to be epic.
The script, still at first draft stage, includes Claire's daughter Charlotte, aka BOM, short for "Baby Of McLeod". There's also Nick and Tess' daughter Ruth, and Stevie and Alex's son Xander.
"Of course, everybody wants to meet the children," Posie tells TV WEEK. "Everyone knows BOM. BOM's all grown up. BOM's 21. We're going to meet BOM."
But there's more than one new generation of McLeods in the movie. Posie is writing it as an origin story, featuring Claire and Tess's 1850s ancestors, Henrietta "Henri" McLeod and her husband.
"I can tell you, I adore Henri McLeod," Posie enthuses. "God, there are some good stories."
The stars of the TV series are closely following Posie's progress on the script.
"I think it's really exciting," Bridie Carter, 50, who played Tess, tells TV WEEK. "I lap up all of it eagerly, as do the fans."
Myles Pollard, who recently formed a production company with Bridie, says he'd love to see both Tess and his character Nick Ryan in the movie.
"Hopefully, Bridie and I get to play two awesome characters all over again," the 48-year-old says.
McLeod's Daughters will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021.
The story of a group of women running a rural property called Drovers Run, the show premiered just before the September 11 attacks shook the world, and turned out to be just what viewers wanted to watch. Over the seasons, half-sisters Claire (Lisa Chappell) and Tess McLeod found love with the farmer brothers next door, Alex (Aaron Jeffery) and Nick Ryan.
As they left the show, new characters, including Stevie Hall, took their place. But till the end, Drovers was always run by strong women.
The final episode aired in early 2009. Since then, the number of fans worldwide has grown, with people watching it on box sets or discovering it on streaming services. The most recent reunion, in December 2019, proved how popular McLeod's still is.
"When we did the live show in Lismore [in NSW], the audience was astonishing," Posie says. "I've never seen anything like it."
Over the past year, with so many people staying at home and turning to TV for comfort, McLeod's has become bigger than ever. Posie says she's been having a lot of Americans contact her.
"With the turmoil that the United States has gone through, not just with the election but COVID, what they tell me over and over again is that McLeod's gives them hope."
Back in 2017, fans were thrilled to hear of plans to revive the TV series. Unfortunately, those plans fell through. But in June 2020, Posie confirmed she would be going ahead with a movie after receiving a grant from the Tasmanian government.
Posie, who's written six historical novels, had been interested in the idea of an origin story when she was in talks to revive McLeod's as a series.
Back then, she says, nobody was "particularly enthusiastic" about it. But she believes shows such as Outlander and Poldark have proven that period dramas can appeal to a range of ages.
"I was lucky enough, when we went back and started to consider it again seriously, to say, 'Well, what I really want to do is a movie and see how we go after that, and I'd like to be writing the origin story.' In the end, that's what's happened. I'm very happy about that."
Posie's draft movie script features the original drover of Drover's Run, and shows the building of the house. Henri marries the drover to become the first Mrs McLeod.
"She's young when she marries him," Posie explains. "When they go back to the family in Scotland, the s**t hits the fan big-time, because he hasn't told them that he got married."
She says that the origin story will influence the present-day story.
"Stuff gets handed down," Posie explains. "It's actually a ghost story. I love that, and it feels a very natural thing for me to do."
To Bridie, the idea of a ghost story makes complete sense.
"Tess was always open to other times and worlds," she explains. "Claire came to her in her dreams."
As for the young characters, Charlotte, Ruth and Xander, Posie has come up with "foundations" for them, and posted those on Instagram.
Charlotte is described as "awkward", "brusque" and "a wallflower", while Ruth, who is three years younger, is described as "spontaneous", "a chatterbox" and "a drama queen". Both are stubborn and big-hearted.
"Absolutely, Charlotte is Claire and Ruth is Tess," Bridie, 50, says. "It's almost like it begins again. I just think it's beautiful."
As for Xander, he's inherited his mother Stevie's "can do or make-do" attitude, but not her "reckless self-sabotaging streak". He's also inherited his father Alex's charm and cheekiness, but not his temper.
WATCH: McLeod's Daughters' greatest moments. Story continues below.
Simmone Jade Mackinnon, who played Stevie, recently posted on Instagram that it was "so bloody cool" to see what Posie had written about Xander.
"Lots can change from now until the screen... but how exciting it is to read, especially for me!" Simmone, 47, enthused.
Posie isn't yet prepared to reveal which of the characters from the TV series will make it into the movie.
"I'd get lynched!" she laughs. "But I talk with quite a few members of the cast. I love them all. There'll be people who want to kill me and there'll be people who are very happy. I can only do what I think is best for the film."
Myles has already been thinking about what Nick might be up to in today's world.
"He was always trialling some progressive agricultural technique or some newfangled technology," he says.
"I reckon Nick would have a whole network of solar panels connected with wind turbines, and a mini Tesla battery at the back of his property. He'd probably have an empire by now too."
Posie, who has another McLeod's writer, Alexa Wyatt, working on the script with her, is hoping to have the second draft finished by the end of February.
"If we start to feel confident around the second draft, then that's when you do some serious money-raising," she explains.
She's looking to crowd-fund the movie, as was done with the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries movie, Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears.
"We're going to have a go," she says. "Who knows? We might get $50, we might get $500,000. No-one can tell.
The more money we can raise, the better what we put on the screen will be."
If all goes well, shooting could begin before the end of 2021.
"It would suit me as a target to be into pre-production before the end of next year and to be shooting over summer and into winter 2022, for sure," Posie says. "If the gods are with me, it might be earlier. But a lot has got to happen to make that go right."
She's keen for fans to have their input via her Instagram.
"I just want people to feel like it's their film," she declares.
For Bridie, it's all about giving something back to the fans who have been so devoted to the show over the past two decades.
"McLeod's is such a gift that will last forever. It feels like we're wrapping a gift and handing it to fans, who so deserve it. They're so loyal and are our family."