Actor Wayne Jarratt tells: 'My Love for the Prisoners'

TV Week - July 31, 1982

WAYNE JARRAT was intimidated by the Prisoner cast when he signed on with the Ten Network TV series nearly a year ago.

He had little TV experience, was in awe of his veteran colleagues and was the only man in the cast. Now, after eight months as cheeky prison officer Steve Fawkner, Jarrat has developed a remarkable rapport, bordering on love, with his co-stars.

"At first it did worry me being surrounded by these great actresses, and it got to the stage where I used to take in photographs of myself in plays that I’d appeared in," Jarrat said.

"I found myself telling the actresses what plays I’d done and who I’d worked with. But then I woke up to myself."

"The women have been terrific in giving me advice. Val Lehman has been a godsend because she knows her craft extremely well and gives very good advice."

Initially Jarrat was to be in Prisoner only for six weeks, but the contract was extended. He said, "That was a bit of a disadvantage because when I started I only had two paragraphs telling me about my character, and after the initial six weeks I didn’t know what to do with Steve.

"Most actors who come into Prisoner are given thorough backgrounds on their character, so they know where they’re heading. I came through the back door."

Jarrat now relishes being surrounded by the Prisoner women but there have been embarrassing moments.

"I hear about so many women’s problems all day that some topics of conversation would make any male blush," he laughed.

"In the beginning I had few minor run-ins with some of the girls, but we sorted them out very quickly."

"One instance was when one of the ladies was struggling to fill the café bar with water. I asked her if she needed a help but she said no. So I continued reading my book until one of the actresses came up and yelled the hell out of me for letting this lady struggle."

Jarrat is a third cousin to John Jarrat who won a Logie for his portrayal of Ned Kelly in the mini-series The Last Outlaw.

"I don’t see much of John and we’ve never worked together," he said.

"No one of my immediate family acts. My father is a lecturer in photography for Nikon, my mother is a brilliant housewife and my sister is working for an import export firm."

Now Jarrat has decided to leave the series. He said: "I’ve never played a character for eight months and I just feel I need some more theatre experience."

With episodes filmed well in advance of screening, his character will be seen on air until the end of the year.

"I certainly hope this is not the last time I work in TV, and I don’t think it’s the one opportunity I’m throwing away," Jarrat said.

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