Don’s dy­ing to play dead

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - SIOB­HAN DUCK

DON Barker once had the mar­ket cornered for play­ing farm­ers and po­lice­men. Th­ese days he jokes that he’s more likely to be called upon to die.

‘‘I’m get­ting con­cerned be­cause it’s hap­pen­ing more and more,’’ he says of his screen and stage death scenes.

‘‘Ev­ery time I come to Mel­bourne I seem to die. The past two plays I’ve done I have died.’’

The for­mer Homi­cide star man­ages to com­bine death and po­lice work when he re­turns to his old stomp­ing ground as a guest star on Chan­nel 7’s City Homi­cide.

Barker, 68, won the role af­ter his mate— an­other fa­mous tele­vi­sion cop Brian Wen­zel, who played Frank Gil­roy on A Coun­try Prac­tice— con­vinced the re­tired ac­tor he should get an agent in Mel­bourne.

Barker says he was de­lighted when his new agent rang to of­fer him a guest-star role on City Homi­cide.

He says he didn’t have to do much re­search for the part, hav­ing al­ready played count­less po­lice­men over the years.

‘‘I have played a lot of cops. I did most of the po­lice shows in the ’70s and ’80s— Mat­lock Po­lice, Divi­sion Four, Homi­cide and Bluey,’’ he says.

‘‘I also used to have the mar­ket cornered on Aussie farm­ers. But now they just keep get­ting me con­fused with Bill Hunter.’’

Barker says things have changed a lot since his days on the set of Homi­cide.

He doesn’t have to sup­ply his own cos­tume and the ac­tors no longer have free rein to film high-speed car chases on Mel­bourne’s streets without any warn­ing to the pub­lic.

De­spite the ob­vi­ous tech­ni­cal ad­vance­ments to tele­vi­sion drama, Barker says the sto­ries are largely the same.

Barker says Homi­cide may now be best known for ‘‘silly hats and car chases’’, but it was cut­ting-edge when it came to dra­matic sto­ry­lines.

Hat trick:

Don Barker in Homi­cide.

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