TV Week: “If you knew Hughesy” State Coroner 5th September 1998

TV Week
5th September 1998

Like Andrew Clarke knows co-star Wendy Hughes …

ANDREW CLARKE is delighted with two things. about State Coroner — being back in regular work and being back on set with old sparring partner Wendy Hughes.

Andrew and Hughesy (as he calls her) worked together on Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River — except then Wendy played second fiddle to Andrew’s lead.

“When I walked on the State Coroner set,” says Andrew, “Hughesy looked at me and said, ‘Well, I’m the boss now’.

“And I said, ‘And glad to be that way, too, partner. It’s great to be working and great to be working with you’.”

Andrew plays Sergeant Colin Decker, assistant to state coroner Kate Ferrari (Wendy) in the Network Ten drama series.

He enthuses about being in an interesting role again and in drawing distinctions between State Coroner and The Man From Snowy River.

“This work’s not out in the cold any more,” he says. “It’s not in snow, hail, sleet, mud and sludge. It is great working inside a courtroom.

“I love it. It’s warm!”

The coming-in-from-the-cold analogy could well describe his career of late.

The Man From Snowy River was the last prime role 48-year-old Andrew saddled up for. He finished it about two years ago.

“Tve been out of work for a while,” he says. “I went for a couple of auditions last year, which I thought I’d killed and I would get, but for some reason I didn’t.

“I did reads for a couple of auditions I wasn’t right for, but there were a couple I was really pleased with, but nothing happened. Then, suddenly, I auditioned for about five things (in March-April this year) and I got the whole five!

“It is just one of those things — feast or famine. I could only do 1 1/2 of them, which was frustrating. But that’s life as an actor … up one minute, down the next”

One huge “up” that almost came Andrew’s way several years back was the offer to play James Bond. But he has no regrets about turning down the role. “There was no option,” he says. “It was cut and dried. The contract on offer was just so abysmal I couldn’t accept it.

The ups and downs of the acting profession leave Andrew with some misgivings.

“You go for auditions, you score work, and then you think you reach a certain hierarchy,” he says. “Then you finish that show and you’re back auditioning, along with everyone else.

“Times are tough, but you’re glad to be in the work. I’d prefer to complain a bit about work, rather than about not working, but if I had my time over again, I think I would do exactly the same thing — except I’d save my money for the times when you’re unemployed.”

Andrew’s regular State Coroner character, the serious Colin, has various skeletons in the closet that will slowly be aired as the series progresses.

“He’s a strong-willed character, seemingly arrogant and a bit pompous at the beginning, but there are underlying reasons for that,” Andrew says.

“It is more a discipline thing. Colin doesn’t mince words and Kate obviously likes that. There are times when she must question her decision to employ him, but that makes for interesting antagonism.”

Andrew admits he’s enjoying working with his new cast mates.

“The crew are great, and they’re fun. They’re a youngish crew,” he says, “… apart from Hughesy, of course!”

A mischievous look crosses his face as he adds: “But she won’t mind me saying that.”

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