DAR­REN DEV­LYN

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

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.

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