Comedian and actor Tom Sainsbury has put Wairarapa on the podcast map once again with a second series of his true crime mockumentary podcast, ‘Small Town Scandal’.
The first series, set in the fictional Wairarapa town of Te Hoiho, was launched in March last year by NZME and introduced listeners to Toby Buchanan, the show’s hapless but endearing hero, and a host of other characters, all played by Sainsbury.
The second series sees Toby, emboldened by a romantic relationship with his new girlfriend Kristy, return to investigate another local crime – which starts with the receipt of a severed toe in the post – with his special blend of journalism, luck, and awkward persistence.
Although this series is set in the equally fictional coastal town of Ruatuna, there are still plenty of recognisable landmarks on the way, including Carterton, where Toby lives, Masterton, and a local newspaper called the Wairarapa Times.
“I wanted to keep it in Wairarapa”, Sainsbury said, and combining the fictional with the factual gave him “so much more creative freedom to create [Ruatuna]”.
Inspired by the beach settlement of Herbertville on the north Wairarapa coast, which Sainsbury spotted on a trawl of Google maps, Ruatuna’s sleepy coastal character is under threat from property tycoon and tahr-hunting enthusiast David Dearlove.
The story is set in the lead-up to New Year when Toby is informed by an anonymous source that something ‘big’ will happen.
“I like the New Year vibe to it”, Sainsbury said. “I like the deadline of something really big happening on New Year’s Day at 12.01.”
“Also, when I think of New Year’s, it’s lots of teenagers on the beach, but it’s also when you get all the sub-sets of humanity all together on holiday.”
As well as girlfriend Kristy and developer David Dearlove, new characters include Airbnb hosts Lynne and Stan Winstanley, who subject Toby to an 8.30pm curfew, David Dearlove’s ‘manservant’ Gustav, and Dog, a fragrant local fisherman who is always at the bar.
“I really enjoy him”, Sainsbury said of Dog. “When I think about him, I can smell him.”
New features this season include an engagement button on the iHeartRadio website that enables listeners to leave their suggestions as to ‘whodunnit’, and Toby’s playlist.
“The engagement button was a way for NZME to create a more elaborate experience for people,” Sainsbury said.
“When you are really into a podcast, you do crave a little something more, and with lots of the true crime podcasts, you can email or contact the host.”