IT was only a matter of time before Foxtel announced a second season of compelling prison drama Wentworth.
The first episode was the most-watched non-sports program in Australian subscription television history, with a cumulative average audience of 631,000.
Wentworth is a work of rare creative synergy, both gritty and heartfelt, thanks to an exceptional production team and cast including Danielle Cormack, Kris McQuade, Nicole da Silva and Aaron Jeffery.
Jeffery is no stranger to being part of a male minority, having been a foundation cast member of McLeod’s Daughters, and loves working alongside such powerhouse women.
He was also a fan of the show that inspired Wentworth, cult hit Prisoner.
‘‘ I used to come home from school and watch it ... I remember Bea and Lizzie and Vera,’’ Jeffery says. ‘‘ Bea was tough and scary. It was a great show. This is like McLeod’s in that it’s female driven. This is different because it’s a prison and the women are complex, vulnerable and strong.
‘‘ I used to describe myself on McLeod’s as the meat in the chick-flick sandwich.
‘‘ This show is edgier and darker so I’m not quite sure what I am in this one . . .’’
Jeffery plays prison guard Matt ‘‘ Fletch’’ Fletcher, a former member of the armed forces who has had posttraumatic stress disorder following a stint in Timor.
‘‘ I don’t think I could do it (work in a prison),’’ Jeffery says. ‘‘ I did find it a bit depressing going out there to the set every day and working under the fluoro lights.
‘‘ To go to that building every day, as in a real prison, would be really hard.’’
New Zealand-born Jeffery, who graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1993, had a troubled adolescence and was penniless when he arrived in Australia at 17. He slept on the streets before finding his feet in Sydney.
Jeffery had a job as a Kings Cross bouncer, where he carried a gun, albeit without bullets.
‘‘ Yes, I had the ‘ piece’ (gun), thought I was Don Johnson, but at the end of the day I was a big teddy bear.’’
Production on season two of Wentworth will begin late this year at the purpose-built prison set in Melbourne. It will screen in 2014. Wentworth, SoHo, tonight, 8.30pm Sandwiched: Aaron Jeffery with Nicole da Silva and Danielle Cormack.