“It felt right to me”
Why 800 Words brought Bridie Carter back to TV
ALMOST a decade has passed since Bridie Carter was a regular on our TV screens.
Since finishing up on the internationally adored
McLeod’s Daughters in 2006, Carter has been selective about her work. And if her sons Otis, 9, and Tobias, 4, couldn’t go with her, she wouldn’t take the job.
“I have rules about how long I can stay away. I wouldn’t stay more than five nights,” she says.
“I love my job passionately, but my family are really important so it’s all about finding that balance.”
So while Carter has shot several short films and had guest roles on series including Rescue: Special
Ops and It’s a Date in recent years, no long-term acting project has managed to entice her to sign on – at least, not until 800 Words and the role of newspaper editor Jan came along.
For Carter, the family drama – which has consistently won the ratings every Tuesday night since its September debut – ticked all the boxes.
Not only was she impressed with the cast, crew and scripts – “it’s lovely as an actor to have words you relish performing,” she says – but it was the perfect balance for her family.
The majority of Carter’s scenes were filmed in Sydney, allowing her to stay close to her home base in NSW’s Byron Bay. She’s also a regular visitor to New Zealand, where most of the show was set and filmed.
“I’m the Australasian ambassador for La-Z-Boy (recliners) and I do my shoots there,” she says. “I have a pretty good business relationship with (the country), plus my profile crosses over quite strongly between Australia and New Zealand as well.”
Annother drawcard was the chance to finally work with leading man Erik Thomson, whom she had admired from afar for years.
“We’d crossed paths at events but we’d never worked together … and our industry in Australia is quite small,” she says. “Stepping on set for the first time is always nervewracking, but Erik’s kindness and gentleness was really lovely. We shot a two-hander first. It felt really right to me and very natural.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Thomson, also an associate producer on the show.
“Bridie’s character is integral and I always wanted her to do it,” he says of her casting. “I really like her as an actor, she draws you in. And it’s easy working with her. She came in, we sat down and shot the scene and she had everything down.”
With season one wrapping up this week and a second officially commissioned, Carter was thrilled to be a part of a show she not only enjoys, but is able to watch at home with her kids.
At home, Carter says her family watches “a lot of TV” together, so she’s always on a lookout for shows that cross the generational divide, citing ABC dramedy
Doc Martin as a particular favourite in their household.
“It’s so nice to have a show that not only entertains the kids – and they’re there with all of the characters – but the adults are equally satisfied,” she says.
“That can be a tricky thing to do, but 800 Words does it.”
Having loved being part of a series from the ground up, Carter is keen to get stuck into a secret project she’s been working on from home.
“I want to be part of that initial creative process, part of a project from its first blossoming,” she says.
“I’ve never stopped working on this one project I’m doing. I’ve been working on it since Tobias was born and he’s four now. I’m not very good at stopping.”
800 WORDS TUESDAY, 8.40PM, SCT