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Exclusive: True crime podcast Teacher’s Pet to get drama treatment

Hit true crime podcast The Teacher’s Pet is to be adapted into a multi-part drama.

Released in May, the Australian podcast was created and hosted by investigative journalist Hedley Thomas, national chief correspondent for The Australian.

The podcast reopens the case around the unsolved disappearance of Lyn Dawson, the wife of rugby league player and teacher Chris Dawson, who seemingly vanished without a trace in 1982.

Thomas told TBI that he is weeks away from striking a deal for scripted TV rights to the podcast, which is to be adapted into a series.

A number of parties are interested in the title and negotiations are underway. It is understood that NBCUniversal-owned Australian Safe Harbour producer Matchbox Pictures is among those vying for rights.

Running for 14 episodes between May and August, the podcast uncovered critical evidence that was not previously explored by police.Thomas wrote and recorded an average of more than 15,000 words each week as new informants came forward.

The Teacher’s Pet garnered an extensive international following over the summer, becoming the only Australian entry to top iTunes podcast charts in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand. It has exceeded more than 17m downloads to date.

Thomas, who was present at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers on Wednesday (November 28), said there are also ongoing talks around an unscripted TV project based on the podcast.

The journalist said he plans to release two more “chunky” podcast episodes “in the near future” that will detail developments in the case since August.

Thomas said the story currently “doesn’t have an ending” as the case is still ongoing. “[TV producers] are immediately concerned about that aspect but, creatively, it also gives them ideas,” he said.

If charges are laid in the case, adapting the podcast for TV will prove difficult in Australia, due to legal restrictions; however, a project could still go ahead for the rest of the world.

Around 70% of The Teacher’s Pet audience comes from outside Australia.

“Podcasting was new to me and tech is not my strong suit but I felt that if I could convey the story with rigor and authenticity and tell it the way I would tell a story, [it could make a difference],” said Thomas.

The journalist received Australia’s highest honour for journalism last week, picking up the 2018 Gold Walkley Award. He is back in the recording studio this week for the next batch of podcasts.