Craig McLachlan tells COLIN VICKERY how The Doctor Blake Mysteries has been a game-changer for his career
CRAIG McLachlan is finally taking control of his destiny. The Doctor Blake Mysteries has given the 49-year-old’s acting career a new lease of life and he is determined to make the most of it.
McLachlan is credited as co-executive producer, as well as star, for the show’s third season. That producer credit is an indication of McLachlan’s commitment to the ABC drama and a sign he is spreading his wings.
For years McLachlan was stuck playing ‘hunk’ roles on shows including Neighbours and Home and
Away. Even a guest stint on Packed to the Rafters, as rocker Steve Wilson, played to stereotype.
Doctor Blake was a fresh start – the chance to play Lucien Blake, a middleaged medico with a troubled past including a dead wife and a stint in a Thai POW camp,
Viewers were hooked, and The Doctor Blake Mysteries quickly joined Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to create a potent local crime-drama double for the ABC.
McLachlan was nominated for Outstanding Actor at last year’s Logies.
“The Doctor Blake Mysteries has absolutely been a game-changer for me,” he says. “I’m not getting phone calls to play a 25-year-old surfer anymore.
“I came to the conclusion that although I have had some good luck along the way, it was time to start thinking about making my own luck.
“To see what is required from the other side (producer as well as star) to get finance together, to get story ideas across the line, scripting, casting (on
Doctor Blake) has been a tremendous education.” The third season of Doctor Blake comes smack in the middle of well-publicised ABC budget cuts. There are eight episodes – down from the usual 10 – but even that is a blessing at a time when jobs are on the line. It took more than a year for a third series of Miss
Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to get the green light. McLachlan’s new hands-on approach to his career is set to pay dividends on stage as well as television. He spent most of last year juggling Doctor Blake with
another, very different role - Frank N Furter in
The Rocky Horror Show.
Now he’s putting the finishing touches on his own stage musical, likely to premiere in the UK later in the year.
McLachlan is an accomplished guitarist,
topped the charts in the late 1980s with Mona with band Check 1-2, and has been scoring films in his spare time in recent years. Now it is time to take things to the next level.
“( Rocky Horror creator) Richard O’Brien said to me one day, ‘You should write your own show’,” McLachlan recalls.
“I dismissed it at first but then I thought about it and started composing songs. The stuff was just spewing out of me. I presented the story and some of the songs to one of the world’s biggest theatrical producers and they were very enthusiastic and we are in discussions at the moment.
“It is nice to be seriously looking at a show going up that I have composed, arranged, and co-written the book to.”
THE DOCTOR BLAKE MYSTERIES
FRIDAY, 8.30PM, ABC
Who’s laughing now: A whole
world of opportunities has
opened up for Craig McLachlan
thanks to his work on