‘An Aussie On The Run Is A Very Ingenious Being’: Chief Hunter Dr David Craig Says Expect The Unexpected

Ahead of Hunted’s premiere on July 17, we sat down with Chief Hunter and international covert operations specialist, Dr. David Craig.

Throughout his career, former Detective Superintendent and AFP Agent Dr David Craig led many high-profile investigations, including the 2005 Bali bombings investigation. He provided personal protection for three Prime Ministers, has worked across the world and, since 2013, has run his own covert operations consultancy.

Now, David steps into an all-new challenge, heading up Hunter HQ in one almighty game of cat and mouse, trying to track down 18 everyday Aussies turned ‘Fugitives' who are doing everything in their power to evade capture.

When the show first approached David, he told 10 play it was an immediate ‘No’ on his part.

“I said, look thanks very much but I’m not an actor, I don’t know any of the media stuff… they said they didn’t want an actor, they wanted someone that can investigate… I had done that plenty of times,” he said.

Eventually, after he was “sort of coerced” into signing on, David said it got to the point where he was just dying for the series to start.

Based on a UK series of the same name, David went away and did his research, watching both the original and the American versions of the franchise so he could have the best understanding of what he was about to undertake.

“I have to say, when I started to watch the UK series I was on the fugitives’ side,” David admitted, “I mean, I know a lot of people will be… we’ve all got a little bit of Ned Kelly blood running through us.”

The premise is simple, nine teams are released into Melbourne’s CBD and are given 21 days to hide from David and his team of expert hunters — from cybercrime to forensic psychology — they’ll do everything they can to catch the Fugitives.

“I have done training within Australia and all around the world where they simulate a terrorist attack or some major incident you have to respond to,” David told 10 play. “The way they put this together is the most realistic recreation of a real event.”

David explained that the only difference is that with a true investigation there would normally be a lot of activity at the beginning, or a lot of planning in preparation for an event and a burst of activity right at the end. “This was high intense cadence activity from day one right through to the end. There was no let-up.”

As the Fugitives scatter across the state, it’s up to David and the team to follow every lead they can, to snag as many as possible before the 21 days are up.

“The Fugitives should never be underestimated,” he said, adding, “an Aussie on the run is a very ingenious being. They were taking it very seriously, as seriously as we were.”

According to David, this season was the shortest turn of time and the largest amount of Fugitives in the series’ history.

“Extreme pressure on us,” he added, “because it’s not just 18 people, it’s 18 people and their friends, their contacts, their cars, their accounts and their devices.

“Every person has so much information, and they’re all trying to hide. Obviously, they’ve got a lot of reasons to hide from us.”

With decades of experience, being a part of Hunted allowed David to give everyday Aussies a chance to see what he and his teams do out in the real world.

“It’s a fairly uncertain time in the world and — apart from the fantastic entertainment — I took it as a role to show that Australian people can have faith in Australian law enforcement,” he explained.

“These are good people that haven’t done anything wrong, they’re exposing themselves to an experience that they’ll never have another chance to do… but if the Fugitives were in fact bad people then it’s nice to know that we, in Australia, have this capability through technical and human source activities and abilities to track the bad guys down.

“In this situation, we’re doing the same thing but we’re doing it in a highly competitive game against good people.”

And while Hunted might be a game, David said that doesn’t take anything away from just how serious it was to the Fugitives and Hunters involved.

“The State of Origin is a game. The AFL Grand Final is a game, so are the Olympics,” he said, laughing. “You walk in and tell any of those people it’s just a game. It’s the same for us!

“We played fair-dinkum hardball from the word go.”

And despite having a team of the country’s best and brightest, David knew he shouldn’t underestimate what the Fugitives were capable of.

“I’ve got helicopters, drones, dogs, surveillance teams, undercover operatives, intelligence agencies, cybercrime… I’ve got a bloody good team, so it should be a really easy thing to do,” he said.

“But people are cunning, and it’s not as easy as what some of the movies make it look like. It’s not all straightforward.”

Hunted premieres Sunday, 17 July At 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play.