END OF AN ERA AS RAFTERS PACK UP
It’s the end of an era as the Rafters sign off, writes Lisa Simmons
FANS farewell Australia’s favourite television family, Dave and Julie Rafter when Packed to the Rafters signs off for good with a two-hour grand finale on Tuesday night.
The hit Australian drama launched in 2008 with the adventures of the wannabe empty nesters never falling below the million viewer mark during five years and 120 episodes.
‘‘I’ve never been in anything like it,’’ says Erik Thomson, who played dad Dave to Rebecca Gibney’s mum Julie, the empty nesters who watched while their kids and parents move back, one by one, to the family home.
‘‘Though it’s often had many more, it’s true it never had less than a million viewers – not even last week when there might have been a good excuse for Australians turning on to watch the Socceroos (playing the game that won them entree into the 2014 World Cup),’’ he says.
Thomson says it’s hard to pick what made the show an Australian hit.
‘‘I suppose people could relate to the characters. People fell in love with the family quickly and once you establish that relationship with anyone you want to keep coming back to see what happening in their lives; all the trials and tribulations.’’
Thomson says it was fitting Dave and Julie Rafter, who dreamed of an empty house, should see that dream realised in the grand finale.
‘‘They sell the house and in the final sequence Julie takes the photos of the kids off the wall. They leave the house and there’s a flashback of the characters who have passed through.
‘‘I haven’t seen it, myself, but I understand it’s a tearjerker.’’
The show’s entire cast was reunited for the finale. ‘‘It was surreal,’’ says Thomson. ‘‘It was like I didn’t feel anything until a few weeks later. I can’t even remember if I shed a tear.’’ He’ll miss his showbiz family. ‘‘I’ll most miss the camaraderie between the cast and crew and the rapport we had,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s a comfortable feeling to walk on to a set and have the same people around you every day.
‘‘They were long, hard days, but never bad days. Even when someone was sick, everyone would rally round that person to get them through.
‘‘Someone like Rebecca, my TV wife, I see her today; I saw her on the weekend. Whether she likes it or not, she’s now part of my life.
‘‘After five years of working together we’ve become good friends.’’
He has enjoyed watching his television kids test the water with other projects among them Jessica Marais to the US and the drama Magic City and Hugh Sheridan to the reality TV talent show I Will Survive.
Thomson says the cast will reunite today for a farewell barbecue.
‘‘It sounds like just the thing to say goodbye,’’ says Thomson, who will be seen in the upcoming telemovie, The Broken Shore, on ABC1, and a new film by Robin Butler ( The Librarians).
Packed to the Rafters: Tuesday, 8.45pm, Seven, Prime7.
The cast of Packed to the Rafters reunited and (left) stars Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson