Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide
Before Brooke Satchwell appears in Stan’s new mystery thriller Black Snow, the actor chats to Siobhan Duck about the changing TV industry, and the roles she connects with the most
THE last time Brooke Satchwell and Erik Thomson were together, it sparked national outrage. A decade after filming their controversial kiss on Packed to the Rafters, the much-loved actors are reuniting on Stan’s riveting new mystery series, Black Snow.
More than a million Australians tuned into watch Satchwell’s character, Frankie, share an illicit drunken kiss with Dave (Thomson) on Rafters in 2012, before later venting their outrage over the salacious storyline on social media. Laughing at the memory of momentarily being TV’s scarlet woman, Satchwell believes the days when viewers became so invested in TV characters that they mourned their fictional deaths and sent hate mail to actors playing villains are largely over. “Rafters was one of the last of those sorts of longer-format series,” she says.
“So, not having that familiarity of regular exposure in homes and because the audiences are fragmented by being able to watch it any time they choose has certainly affected that [intensive interest in particular characters].”
Satchwell says the changing landscape of television has also brought some welcome freedoms for actors like herself.
“I guess it makes it less about the performer and more about the story,” she explains.
“And so, I think what’s fabulous is, you know, with a slew of titles that have been coming out this year, people are really invested with the stories that are being told and it’s not so much the obsessing over an identity, which is good.”
That being said, Satchwell laughs that a lot of people still have a hard time separating her from her past roles.
“People still call me Sally Fletcher [the role Kate Ritchie played on Home and Away for 20 years],” she jokes.
“They’re wrong. But they do call me that.”
In Black Snow, Satchwell and Thomson play an ambitious father and daughter who are keeping some dark secrets.
“Eric did comment to me that the last time we shared a scene, it was more romantic in nature,” she laughs of that controversial kissing scene.
“And I just said to him: ‘Aren’t we very versatile?’.”
Versatility is something that Satchwell has shown she has in spades in a television career that’s spanned almost 30 years.
Ever since finding fame as Anne Wilkinson on Neighbours, Satchwell has shown she isn’t afraid to take risks with her career choices.
Whether it’s making people laugh on unscripted shows
such as Show Me the Movie!, entertaining kids on Play School, or showcasing her dramatic skills in Jack Irish, Satchwell always holds her own against the very best in the business.
And that has never been more evident than in this past year when Satchwell has found herself starring in some of the most thought-provoking and challenging productions of her career.
Her performance as a juror in an abusive marriage in The Twelve saw her nominated for an AACTA award. And, in Black Snow she joins an A-list cast that includes Thomson, Vikings’ Travis Fimmel, Alexander England (Offspring), Kym Gyngell (Wakefield) and Rob Carlton (Total Control).
Set in a sugarcanegrowing community in northern Queensland with deep ties to the South Sea Islander community, the series follows a talented but damaged detective (Fimmel) who re-opens a 25-year-old investigation into the murder of a teenage girl.
Satchwell says she felt an enormous responsibility in filming Black Snow.
“The Australian South Sea Islander community have been dedicated for an incredibly long time now to bringing their history to life and creating a space and an identity for the Australian South Sea Islander community within Australian culture,” she says.
“So, to be able to be part of something that elevates that story and brings it into public consciousness and validates the experience is significant project, especially given next year is the 160th anniversary of the Australian South Sea Islander peoples being brought to Australia – more often than not under duress and deception.”
Like The Twelve, Black Snow does not shy away from revealing some uncomfortable truths and shines a light on previously taboo topics such as ingrained racism and domestic violence.
“Given the challenges of recent times, to be able to invest myself in things
that have a purpose that have a social connection that have heart certainly counterbalances the duress of immersing yourself in that kind of material,” she explains.
“But it was interesting because I certainly evolved as a performer over the course of 2022 and had to learn to grab little breaths here and there. To take those pauses to decompress and really prioritise self-care.”
Despite the challenging material, Satchwell says the shoot was a joyful experience for everyone involved.
“It was a gift to be shooting in the Whitsundays in cane fields and it was such an evocative environment to be in,” she says.
“And we had that beautiful experience too – school-camp style – of people being away to focus on a job and create their own little communities, so that certainly helped engender the heart space.”
Since those early days on Ramsay Street as a teenager, Satchwell has felt a tangible shift in the industry and the sorts of stories that are being told. That’s because, she
believes, people are moving away from wanting to see the heavily curated images of perfection all over Instagram in favour of something more relatable and real.
“I think what’s interesting is, post pandemic, we’re all in quite a state,” she smiles.
“We have grey hair. We’re all funny shapes. And we’re all a bit confused.
“And the fact that that has coincided with me – once the industry opened up again – obtaining all these fabulous jobs, I have found that really interesting. I think the humanness is really appealing to people. Actually, seeing ordinary people, flawed people, grey-haired people, wrinkled people, people with different shapes, sizes and colours.
“The fact that is what we are seeking as an audience and as a society at the moment, is great because it’s pulling back into balance what perhaps became quite a big schism with ideas of Instagram and perfection.”
Black Snow, streaming from New Year’s Day, Stan