Fran Bailey is an ideas woman. She’s sent toilet man Kenny to Canada, signed off on the bungled Lara Bingle “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign and supported hanging a shade cloth over the Barrier Reef to protect it from global warming — now the Tourism Minister has turned film producer in an attempt to lure back Japanese tourists to Australia.

Bailey told AM this morning:

“We’ve got to make Australia a hot destination again for Japanese tourists…So after sounding out a number of industry people. What I’d like to do is to make a Japanese soapie, starring Japanese actors but set in Australia and travelling around and having them experience a lot of our iconic tourist attractions.”

AM: It sounds like a Japanese version of successful Australian soaps like Neighbours and Home and Away?

Bailey: “That’s exactly what it is. I don’t think we could ever underestimate the effect Neighbours has had in the UK market and the Japanese just love their soapies…

“I have come up with the idea … I am not going to write the script,” Bailey told The Fin Review. “There are limitations here.”

So does Bailey’s vision include the creation of a Japanese version of Toadie, Harold, Dr Karl and Alf “Flaming Galah” Stewart (see right)?

Not necessarily, according to the Tourism Minister, the soaps will have to have a distinctly Japanese flavour to attract the local audience.

Crikey cruised the TV in Japan blog for some local drama to help Fran’s creative team capture that wasabi after taste:

  • Waterboys: Some high school boys want to start a men’s synchronized swimming club at their school. Somehow this causes mass panic among the faculty and they fight for the rights of their club while learning about life, love, and friendship…There are also old men cross-dressers who give the boys advice.

  • Trick: Yamada Naoko (Nakama Yukie) is a struggling magician whose stage presence seems to put people to sleep rather than entertain them, and Ueda Jiro (Abe Hiroshi) an egotistical and cowardly physics professor who wishes to debunk every supernatural phenomenon as merely tricks. Together they travel Japan and expose gurus and ghost towns. 
  • My Boss My Hero: Sakaki Makio (Nagase Tomoya) is a yakuza gang boss disguised as a high school student.  
  • Anego: When working women reach their 30s, they start to worry about various things; “How long should I continue working for this company?”, “Will I marry the man I am dating?” “If I continue living like this what will I do when I grow old?” In this drama, the main character, who is a 32-year old single woman working at a prestigious trading company, suddenly finds herself as one of the elders at the office, being a big sister to her younger co-workers. Watch here for the longest lead up to a very unsatisfying kiss, ever.
  • Teiso Mondo (Virginity Talk): A mysterious driver, Sugiyama, tries to save poor Shinko’s virginity, and since there’s no subtitles, that’s about all we can glean from the scene. Check out the disco dancing credits.