Changing times on A Place To Call Home as drama fast-forwards four years.
A Place To Call Home fast-forwards four years when it returns to TVNZ 1 this week with some challenging times for Sara Wiseman’s Carolyn Bligh. Kerry Harvey reports.
Stepping back in time to 1958 was no nostalgic walk down memory lane for A Place To Call Home’s Sara Wiseman. “You were property back then,” says the New Zealand actor of her latest outing as Carolyn Bligh in the Australian period drama. “Being quite an independent person myself and feeling the shackles go on the character was actually quite interesting. She’s as real to me as talking to you and there was the frustration of what so many women go through in terms of the selflessness needed to put the family first or to put the children first or the husband first. It’s quite a rocky road for her.”
Season five begins four years after the incarceration of Regina (Jenni Baird) in a psychiatric ward. The Bligh family have had to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.
Ever-increasing changes have occurred in Australian society over those years. The world of wealth and privilege is being eroded, moral values are changing, and a new, young generation is rising, challenging their elders and rules.
At Ash Park, George (Brett Climo) and Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) are raising their son David together,
Anna (Abby Earl) is moving on after her divorce from Gino (Aldo Mignone), and Carolyn, now married to Dr Jack Duncan (played by Sara’s real-life husband Craig Hall), is drowning in domesticity.
“She throws herself into everyone
“I think it is really common with a lot of women, how much they do sacrifice for families. They put their careers on hold, they put their lives on hold.” – Sara Wiseman
else’s world. She’s taking care of the family, she’s taking care of the homestead, she’s taking care of her husband,” Wiseman says.
“I think it is really common with a lot of women, how much they do sacrifice for families. They put their careers on hold, they put their lives on hold and this is very much the case in 1958 – she’s done exactly that and it’s not sitting too well.
“It’s a kind of elephant in the room with the Jack-and-Carolyn relationship where he’s very much a traditional country boy and very happy to be in that world. Their relationship is struggling.”
Matters come to a head between the couple when Carolyn champions indigenous war veteran and aspiring artist Frank Gibbs (Aaron Pedersen) who, while he fought for his country, is denied even the most basic civil rights once he’s back home.
“She throws herself at this and takes on things on her own accord without asking permission. I mean, who wants to have to do that?” Wiseman says, adding the storyline really resonated with her.
“I learnt so much about the indigenous diggers coming back from the war and how they were treated. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and that is brought to light in a very honourable way because Aaron Pedersen is the bee’s knees. He’s extraordinary.
“His honour and his ability to get that story and that character across is just amazing to watch. I felt very lucky to be part of that storyline.
“It’s very affecting for Carolyn as well and she sticks her nose in with good intent but doesn’t think about the consequences, or the person that she’s trying to help, too much.
“That’s how desperate she is to make her mark on the world. She really feels like she’s disappearing and has lost her way.”
Wiseman says Jack and Carolyn’s
struggles continue into the drama’s sixth – and final – season which will take the characters up to 1960.
“The nostalgia is definitely kicking in,” she says about the show coming to an end. “It’s bittersweet but it is wonderful for our creator Bevan Lee to finish it on his own terms rather than for it to be ripped out from underneath him. To actually give it a really good send-off and wrap it up well is a rare thing.”
Australia’s Channel Seven axed A Place To Call Home after two seasons but, after an outcry from fans, Foxtel picked it up and produced four more seasons. It now screens in 130 countries around the world, including on the BBC in the UK and is also popular in America.
“It’s just such an honour to be a part of something so massive and so accepted. And it’s really nice to be on something that’s not just gratuitous killings,” Wiseman says.
“I just watched something recently where the body count was off the charts and I didn’t feel a thing – and that’s terrifying. It’s really nice to be part of a show where the themes are universal around ignorance and bigotry and sexual orientation and gender issues and humanity.
“It’s life on a melodramatic scale but we can really relate. Everyone’s life is their own melodrama really.”
Above: Sara Wiseman (Carolyn) and Craig Hall (Jack)
Sara Wiseman and Aaron Pedersen