PRO­FILE Ben Mingay

Theatre ac­tor Ben Mingay feels most at home on the stage but ZOE NAU­MAN dis­cov­ers he was warmly wel­comed by Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar TV fam­ily.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

PACKED TO THE RAFTERS

Tues­day, 9pm Seven

BEN Mingay, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the Packed To The Rafters crew has re­vealed he was able to draw on the ben­e­fit of per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence when it came to his char­ac­ter’s teen love af­fair with a school teacher.

The sea­soned theatre ac­tor, who is star­ring as Fer­gus ‘Buzz’ Gra­ham in the Seven drama, says he knew of a few fel­low pupils who in­dulged in an il­licit li­ai­son or two.

‘‘I know of some dodgy go­ings on,’’ he says, in ref­er­ence to his char­ac­ter’s back­story of hav­ing a 16-year-old son who is the re­sult of an af­fair with a teacher when he was at school.

‘‘I could re­late to a lot of this char­ac­ter. I can’t re­veal who it was but I do know some­one. I know of sit­u­a­tions. I’m still friends with them now. This wasn’t re­ally young peo­ple – they were around 17 and 18 years old. There is al­ways a story, es­pe­cially when you have been to as many schools as I have.’’

Mingay, 33, from New­cas­tle, also used his ex­pe­ri­ence of be­com­ing an un­cle when he was nine years old to add to the dy­namic of be­ing close in age to his Rafters son.

‘‘I read some of the script and I could im­me­di­ately re­late to it. My old­est sis­ter had a cou­ple of kids by the time she was 20 years old.

‘‘I was grow­ing up with my nephew Dave. It was ex­actly the same sort of re­la­tion­ship – we were like mates, me want­ing to be a bit of an au­thor­ity fig­ure. We would have a beer to­gether and the next thing, I was hav­ing to be in charge.

‘‘This re­ally helped me with the whole Jack­son/ Buzz thing that was go­ing on in the show.’’

Mingay, who, up un­til Rafters, has had a long ca­reer tread­ing the boards, has starred in An Of­fi­cer And A Gen­tle­man, Jersey Boys, and Dirty Danc­ing, which took him all over the world, and the mu­si­cal Hair.

He says he feels the stars aligned for him to get the part.

‘‘Michael Ca­ton, a mu­tual friend, came and saw Jersey Boys and we had a drink af­ter­wards. ‘‘Then at the clos­ing night of an

Of­fi­cer And A Gen­tle­man, the cast­ing di­rec­tor from Rafters was ac­tu­ally in the house. We had a drink and a lit­tle bit of a chat and she said: ‘You are the type of guy we are look­ing for.’

‘‘It helped Michael Ca­ton had vouched for me, as it were. He’s a good Aussie bloke and that all worked in my favour, and I went along and did the au­di­tion and got the gig.

‘‘It was a good di­rec­tion for me to go in. It felt like a bit of fate.

‘‘ Of­fi­cer And A Gen­tle­man was sup­posed to be open for a year. The fact it closed early al­lowed me to do this."

Mingay loves the new turn his ca­reer has taken.

‘‘I was re­ally ex­cited. Mostly be­cause a lot of my fam­ily and friends watched the show and I had al­ways been a fan of Rebecca (Gib­ney) and Erik (Thom­son). Of course, I was a bit ner­vous about go­ing into an es­tab­lished cast – a fam­ily cast.

‘‘When I joined I was like ‘where do I pitch my­self in this?’ You have to be care­ful com­ing into a sit­u­a­tion where they are old hands at it.

‘‘So I just tried to keep a low pro­file and slip in there and try and qui­etly achieve what I have to do. I think my in­tro­duc­tion into the tele­vi­sion cast was a bless­ing. Ev­ery­one had so much ad­vice and made me feel me wel­come.’’

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