Doc­tor at the ready:

Short­land Street is adding an ex­tra night to its line-up. From this week, fans will be able to watch their favourite show on Sun­day nights as well as the reg­u­lar week­night episodes. The fo­cus of this week’s one-hour Sun­day episode cen­tres on Sam Bunkall’s

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Short­land Street star uses his fame to help teens.

Ac­tor Sam Bunkall is nowhere near as so­cially awk­ward as Boyd Rolle­ston, the top-notch sur­geon he’s played on Short­land Street for the past six years.

That said, he is just as com­mit­ted to do­ing the right thing as his screen coun­ter­part. In Bunkall’s case, this means putting his celebrity to good use in his other job – ed­u­cat­ing teens on the dan­gers of sex­ual vi­o­lence.

“It’s a great job,” says the ac­tor of work­ing as an ed­u­ca­tor for Rape Pre­ven­tion Ed­u­ca­tion, the group be­hind the Bodysafe pro­gramme for col­lege stu­dents.

“I’m so for­tu­nate to have that and it works very well with Shorty. It makes an awk­ward topic a lit­tle bit eas­ier to talk about be­cause, I guess, some of (the teens) watch the show and feel a lit­tle bit like they know me, so it’s not such a jump to talk about un­com­fort­able stuff.”

How­ever, the re­cep­tion that Bunkall, 35, re­ceived from stu­dents was very dif­fer­ent be­fore he made his Short­land Street de­but in Septem­ber 2012.

“At some schools, th­ese kids re­ally do sit there with their phones and it was a bat­tle to get their at­ten­tion.

“Once I was on the show it was just that in­stant buy-in,” he says. “Peo­ple were pay­ing at­ten­tion so it’s just so good to be able to have that to spread that mes­sage.”

Bunkall is no fig­ure­head. Not only does he go into schools, he has made sub­mis­sions to Par­lia­ment about the preva­lence of sex­ual vi­o­lence among teens and taken part in many pub­lic fo­rums.

That com­mit­ment to the causes he be­lieves in is one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics he shares with Fern­dale’s Boyd Rolle­ston who, de­spite be­ing a straight ar­row, will break the rules when he be­lieves it is jus­ti­fied.

“When you look back on things Boyd’s done, the il­le­gal op­er­a­tions and the bits and pieces over the years, if he was a real per­son there’s no way he’d still be work­ing in a hospi­tal,” Bunkall says.

“It might be il­le­gal but it’s al­ways for the right rea­sons. I love that and I think that’s kind of cool. In the cli­mate that we have in this day and age, it’s not such a bad mes­sage to have.”

Which makes it in­trigu­ing in­deed, to learn that Boyd – the man Bunkall’s in-laws de­scribe as the show’s moral com­pass – is the fo­cus of Short­land Street’s first one-hour Sun­day episode this week.

“It had been a few weeks since I’d had much of a sto­ry­line but when it rains it pours.

“It was the big­gest block that I’ve ever had on the show with, I think, some­thing like 35 scenes,” he says.

“It was, at first, in­cred­i­bly daunt­ing be­cause there were a lot of lines to learn. But once you’re in there you just get into this rhythm and it was great.”

Bunkall, like the show’s pro­duc­ers, is say­ing lit­tle about the sto­ry­line, other than re­veal­ing the re­turn of some­one from his past de­rails his fledg­ling re­la­tion­ship with the newly sep­a­rated Dr Ron­gopai Rameka (Kim Bar­rett).

A quick scan of the good doc­tor’s past re­veals sev­eral pos­si­ble can­di­dates for the role of un­wel­come in­ter­loper. For a start, there’s his ex-wife Brooke (Beth Allen), who left Fern­dale for Amer­ica af­ter he cheated on her; there’s Bella Durville (Amelia Reid-Mered­ith) who moved to Raglan af­ter the pair proved in­com­pat­i­ble; and, last, but by no means least, Dr Eve Re­ston (Jess Holly Bates), who fled Fern­dale a year ago with the cou­ple’s new­born twins af­ter be­ing re­vealed as a mur­derer.

Bunkall, him­self hap­pily mar­ried, ad­mits for an in­tel­li­gent man, Boyd is not good at pick­ing his part­ners.

“I re­mem­ber when they said Boyd and Bella were go­ing to be to­gether I thought – be­cause she was very much that stereo­typ­i­cal ditsy re­cep­tion­ist and he was this re­ally in­tel­lec­tual sur­geon – would they ac­tu­ally have any­thing in com­mon?” he says. “But they ended up writ­ing it re­ally well.

“When they were break­ing up it was ac­tu­ally heart­break­ing.

“As much as the au­di­ence like to say, ‘Why can’t we just leave them happy?’, you’d be bored if we did that.

“It is fun, in the mean­time, hav­ing that lead-up to a ro­mance and hav­ing that first mo­ment. It is kind of ex­cit­ing be­cause that’s the ex­cit­ing part of a re­la­tion­ship.”

“At some schools, th­ese kids re­ally do sit there with their phones and it was a bat­tle to get their at­ten­tion.”

– Sam Bunkall

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