Rafters bid farewell
CALL it the longest goodbye – one which required those at its centre to maintain a year- long facade. Confirmation Packed to the
Rafters would end with its sixth season came just weeks ago, finally letting actors Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson off the hook. They, and the rest of the central cast, had known since early last year season six would be the last of Rafters as they
Which made shooting the last scenes, just before Christmas, especially poignant.
They had to stay non- committal publicly, as rumours flew about the show’s end.
If it was to be the end, Gibney and Thomson said the season six finale was a fitting one.
On Tuesday, Rafters ends with a twohour finale which boasts all the humour and heartbreak that made the show so loved. Gibney, who starred as Julie Rafter, said the finale would have her in tears all over again. “I cried filming it, I cried watching it and I’ll cry watching it again,” she said.
Rafters may have come to a natural conclusion – “If the kids were still in the house at 35, there’s something a bit wrong,” Gibney laughed – but the farewell was heartwrenching for the cast.
“At the end, when you’re hanging up Julie’s outfit and saying goodbye to the people you love … I spent the week before Christmas in tears,” she said.
“Especially when I’d look at Erik, or I’d look at Michael Caton, [ the tears would] just start to flow.”
The final performances of Gibney and Caton are two of the most memorable.
The pair have showcased an emotional storyline all year as Caton’s Ted has slipped into dementia.
“Michael and I have almost a real- life father- and- daughter relationship,” Gibney said.
“So losing him in character and knowing I was losing him off screen as well was hugely emotional.”
Both Gibney and Thomson said farewelling their on- screen marriage was the big wrench.
“We’re husband and wife on screen, but our relationship off is more brother- sister, or friends without benefits,” Gibney said.
“Erik and I had such a shorthand. It made a job I loved so much more. We still catch up regularly. I’ve done a lot of drama in 30 years but never had the closeness with the cast and crew that developed on this show.” Thomson was similarly grateful. “We’re friends for life,” he said. “We had a very easy rapport. Working so well with someone, so naturally, for so long, allows you both comfort and vulnerability in your work. It was a gift.
“The peak was probably the death of Melissa [ Zoe Ventoura’s character, killed in a car accident in a closely guarded show secret which left viewers reeling]. To me that was when the show crossed to a new level, when
Rafters came off the screen and into reality.” Both Thomson and Gibney treasure the subtle moments that made their on- screen dynamic appear so real.
“It was little things, like when Dave went out and got drunk and came home, flopped on the lounge slurring, and they subtitled him raving drunk,” Gibney said. “That was incredibly funny and Erik is a very funny man.
“Another story line I loved was when Julie was menopausal and she asked if he still thought she was beautiful – they were the very real and small moments I treasure.”
Thomson joked when they found out Rafters as they knew it was ending, he wanted it to be all about Julie and Dave.
“Of course all the kids were back, but I kept saying to them, ‘ You’ve all had your fantastic farewell episodes – back off’,” he said.
“This one’s for us.”
PACKED TO THE RAFTERS FINALE
Southern Cross, Tuesday, 8.45pm