Matt Holmes joined Blue Heelers as Constable Matt Graham for the last 21 episodes of the series. Because the show was axed, his character was never fully explored. TV Flashback caught up with Matt to discuss the impact Blue Heelers had on his career.
1) How did you become involved with Blue Heelers?
Originally I had auditioned, unsuccessfully, for Charlie Clausen’s role of Alex Kirby. But fortunately I was asked to come and audition for the role of Matt Graham a few months later.
2) What was it like joining a long running and very popular show?
Obviously it was a little daunting joining such a well known show and a cast and crew who had largely been working together for many years. But at the same time it meant that you were joining a very well oiled machine. I learnt a lot about how fast television moves, and how to be best prepared for it.
3) Your character Matt Graham arrived with a lot of back story, some of which was explored, but do you think if Blue Heelers had continued we would have seen more about Matt’s past? It felt like he had only just started to warm to the team and country policing.
There were definitely plans to explore more of Matt’s issues and his past. However, due to the finish of the show obviously other storylines had to be tied up. Certainly it was important for the show’s viewers and indeed the creative team to resolve Tom Croyden’s story satisfactorily.
I doubt though that Matt would have warmed to the team too much. I think it was always the producers’ intention to leave a fair level of conflict between him and the other station members.
4) What were the difficult or challenging aspects of playing your character?
Certainly learning Tetum (language of Timor) was a challenge. That was a first for me. Not that I was fluent or anything like that. I learnt what I needed for the episodes.
5) Any similarities between Matt Holmes and Matt Graham?
To be honest we were pretty far apart. He was cold and silent and pretty physically brutal, and yeah I’m just not. I guess we both have a “code” if you like. A compass that we steer by, but on the whole, not a lot of similarities!!
6) Although your character only had a short run, did you have a favourite episode or storyline while working on Blue Heelers?
There was an episode “Facing the music” with a young boy Max (Angus McLaren), that I really enjoyed. You actually got to see both sides of his character. The cold surface he showed to most people and the more human person who saw a kid in trouble. I think that was the interesting part about Matt was that he was a bit of a melting pot of different stereotypes!!
Other than that anything involving driving fast I was a fan of, I really enjoyed working with the stunt drivers.
7) What made Blue Heelers different from other productions you’ve worked on?
I think the longevity of the show primarily. Many of the crew had been together for 12 years. Even some of the background artists had been there since the first episode. People had spent large and significant parts of their lives on that set and the warmth of that fact was evident the moment you walked on.
8) What will you treasure most from your time working on Blue Heelers, from both a professional and personal perspective?
Professionally it was my first ongoing role, so it will always hold a special place. I learnt a lot from the cast, the crew and especially the directors!! I am still reminded of some of those lessons 12 years later.
Personally there are many friendships that were forged on the show. At the end of the day it’s always the people that you take with you that is the lasting impact of any job. A film set or a theatre is a fast forger of relationships. It has to be. It is a unique environment as you actually have to get to know each other very well and friendships formed in this way tend to last!!
9) Were you surprised the show was axed? The news was a shock around the country, but what was it like on the set?
Surprised is probably not the word. The show had been running for such a long time and there had been talk around the network for a while that certainly one of the dramas was going to go. The writers left the last episode a little closed and a little up in the air in case we came back, but ultimately we suspected it would be the last.
10) Recently there’s been talk of a Blue Heelers reunion or reboot, although you are based overseas now, would you consider coming back to Blue Heelers?
Never say never!!
11) What are you up to these days?
I’ve been over in the States for the last 6 years since Sea Patrol finished and that has been an interesting ride. Some great opportunities and also a pretty hard slog at times, but that really is just the nature of the job wherever you are!! Still at it!!
You can purchase Blue Heelers on DVD here.
Thanks To Matt Holmes for an insightful interview into the world of Blue Heelers. You can catch Matt in action in Blue Heelers in the video below: