800 Words: profiles

George Turner played by Erik Thomson

George Turner loved his life in Sydney. He adored his wife Laura, and his job writing a newspaper column of exactly 800 words every week. Together they found balance in the challenges of work and being parents to their two kids, Shay and Arlo.

Then Laura died unexpectedly. And George had to decide how to save his family.

Erik says with the passing of Laura, his character makes a very questionable decision. "He defies all logic. In not knowing how to move forward, George opts to move backwards to a time he felt safe and happy. They say 'nostalgia wears rose-coloured spectacles' and George leaps back to happier times."

George quits his job, uproots his family and relocates to his childhood family holiday destination in remote New Zealand.

"Sometimes you need to go back, before you can move forward," Erik says.

George's boss Jan, the editor of the magazine supplement of a weekend Sydney newspaper, remains the viewers' reference point between the two transTasman worlds.

The first column George ever wrote for her was exactly 800 words so Jan called it 800 words. Every week since then George has turned out exactly 800 words. It's his little obsession to make sure his word count is spot on 800. Readers like his laid-back, easily digestible style, and his wry observations on the world he sees.

His sudden seachange could be perfect fuel for future 800 word columns, but for now he has quit his job and his focus is on healing and helping his children move forward.

Erik Thomson

This is Erik Thomson's third major production with Channel 7. Although he modestly downplays his credit as Associate Producer of 800 Words, it is the most involved and hands-on Erik has ever been on set.

"I read the script and took it to Channel 7 as I knew it was a perfect fit… everyone agreed we just had to make it," Erik says.

"Being an Associate Producer allowed me to be involved in the creative process along with the writers and producers. It was a massive and very interesting learning curve for me."

Erik's successful 17 year partnership with Seven began as Dr Mitch Stevens on All Saints. He earnt three nominations for the Silver Logie award for most popular actor, winning the award in 2003.

Then came his much-loved role as Dave Rafter in the hit family drama, Packed to the Rafters, and four Silver Logie award nominations for Most Popular Actor and a Silver Logie nomination for Most Outstanding Actor.

Born in Inverness, Scotland, Erik was seven when his family moved to New Zealand. It was then he began performing in school plays, a pastime he continued to pursue as he got older. He studied performing arts at the New Zealand Drama School, as well as English Literature and Drama at Victoria University in Wellington.

Erik accumulated a long list of theatre and TV credits in NZ, including a recurring role on the Hercules and Zena — Warrior Princess series before his trans-Tasman move to Australia in his early 20s.

Roles in Wildside, 13 Gantry Road, Water Rats, Pacific Drive and, of course, All Saints and Packed To The Rafters followed.

Erik then starred in the mini-series Through My Eyes — The True Story of Lindy Chamberlain and The Alice, playing ex-rock star Jack Jaffers opposite his reallife partner, actress Caitlin McDougall.

In 2004, Erik won the AFI Award and a Film Critic Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor for his first feature film role in the multi-award winning Somersault. In 2008, Erik was again nominated for an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the multi award-winning film The Black Balloon.

More recently, he appeared in the ABC TV telemovie, The Broken Shore, and the mini-series, The Code, before playing a supporting role in the debut feature film by Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler, Now Add Honey, starring Portia De Rossi, Lucy Fry, Hamish Blake and Lucy Durack.

His other film credits include Accidents Happen with Geena Davis and The Boys Are Back alongside Clive Owen.

In 2014, Erik returned to the stage with the Melbourne Theatre Company playing the President of The United States in The Speechmaker, a Working Dog comedy production that proved an instant hit with sell-out audiences.

Erik lives in South Australia's McLaren Vale, married to Always Greener star Caitlin McDougall. They are proud parents to daughter Eilish, eight, and son Magnus, four.