Don’s dying to play dead
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.
Don Barker in Homicide.