After two years of Blue Heelers…
Bowler Bows Out
13th January 1996
BLUE HEELERS star Grant Bowler is leaving the hit show after more than two years as bad-boy cop Constable Wayne Patterson.
Grant, 27, is only the second regular cast member to leave the show since it began in January 1994. The other was Ann Burbrook, who played his on-screen wife, Roz.
“This is a very good job and I’m not leaving it lightly,” says Grant, who filmed his last scenes in December but will be seen on screen until April.
“I’ve been very lucky,” he adds. “Three weeks out of drama school, I started work with the Bell Shakespeare Company and stayed there 18 months. Three weeks after leaving that, I shot the pilot for Blue Heelers.
“It’s been a great run and I’m very fortunate. But I’m tired and I want to give series TV a rest for a while.
“I started acting in order not to know what I’m doing next. It had reached the point where I always knew what I’d be doing, and I didn’t want to.”
That’s not to say Grant is propelling himself into an unknown world without any plans.
He has a strong business sense, and has made use of his regular Blue Heelers pay cheque by setting up his own production company with two friends.
“The company is going extremely well,” Grant says. “It’s taking up a lot of my concentration.”
He prefers not to elaborate on the company’s projects, but says the venture may result in substantial overseas travel for him and his partners this year.
“That’s fine, because I was planning to travel this year anyway,” he says. “So I’ll meet up with the. others when and where required.”
Grant’s first priority after finishing Blue Heelers was to go home to Queensland for three weeks to visit his parents. “I really wanted to spend time with them, because I’d hardly seen them in the past seven years,” he says.
In the first few months of 1996 Grant will return to the Sydney stage in two plays, before leaving for overseas.
“I plan to be overseas for seven months this year,” he says. “I’ll start on a beach in Mexico, buy a 76 Cadillac and drive through the U.S. Then I want to go to England and buy a van and bum around the UK and Europe for a while.”
Grant doesn’t intend to look for acting work overseas, but he will catch up with Blue Heelers’ TV screening times whenever he can.
“Blue Heelers screens in 65 countries, so I’ll just travel around the world, watching it in different languages!” he says, laughing.
“At the wrap party last year, we saw it dubbed in Cantonese. It was bizarre to see ourselves speaking like that.”
Although Grant has finished work on Blue Heelers, he wants to keep in touch with the rest of the cast – Lisa McCune, John Wood, William McInnes, Martin Sacks, Julie Nihill and Damian Walshe-Howling.
“When you work together for extremely long hours and at very close range, you develop really close relationships,” Grant says.
“That’s something to be cherished, but at the same time you know it’s a transient thing. You’ll probably never work with these same people – as a group – again. But you know you will run into them on other jobs, one at a time or even several from the old group.”
Grant says that filming his last episode (to air in April) was a strange feeling.
“It wasn’t until we did the location work for that episode that it really hit me,” he says. “It was a mixture of sadness, relief, excitement and trepidation. It’s very sad to leave something, but that’s the nature of this business.”
Grant’s departure leaves the way open for producers to bring a new character into the Mt Thomas police station. This may well be a new female officer, as the station now has only one (Maggie Doyle, played by Lisa).
Story: Caron James
Picture: Dave Mason
Original content copyright TV Week.