All Saints: articles

Erik's a Saint

erik thomson

After three and a half years on air, Logie-award winning medical drama All Saintsis now one of Australia's favourite shows. Set in and around Ward 17, it centres on the lives of the doctors, nurses, paramedics and ambos that work there.

While the show features an ensemble cast, Erik Thompson's character, Dr Mitch Stevens, stands out. A caring doctor, he's not afraid to challenge authority.

"What I do find good about Mitch is that [when in character] I get a chance to be more confrontational", says Erik.

"I think he's a lot more prepared to have a scrap and be a bit bolshie, and he doesn't really care about his future. I sometimes wish I could be a bit more like that, and shoot from the hip, because I don't particularly like conflict".

Erik, who was born in Inverness, Scotland, and moved with his family to New Zealand at seven, has been acting since high school, when he prioritized appearing in the school play over a budding Rugby Union career.

He did the rounds of television and theatre in New Zealand, including a stint playing Hamlet. Five years ago, he moved to Australia and has been a regular on our screens ever since.

Erik says he could have made a decent living as an actor in New Zealand, but he wanted to see how far he could take his career.

"I've always been a bit of a traveller and one who wants to push their own boundaries and Australia loomed. New Zealand is a very small country. There's far more scope and opportunities here [in Australia] to make a career more interesting and exciting", he says.

He's completed 105 episodes playing Mitch. "At the moment, we're exploring the man's faults. He's a good doctor who really cares for his patients. But now we're starting to look at what's motivating him, with his marriage as well as his relationship with Terri [Georgie Parker]".

Erik has other strings to his bow. He recently directed a two-person play, An Unseasonable Fall of Snow, which enjoyed a successful season in Sydney. Erik says part of the reason he took on the project was to test his own capabilities, as well as to be involved in something outside of television.

"Theatre is such a different object, it's a much shorter, more intense period of work, and when it closes, that's it. That's the magic of theatre, you know it's going to be a one-off thing", he says.

"I'd love to direct some Shakespeare at some stage, because it would be such a challenge. I think invariably I will direct more, but at the moment I'm quite happy and comfortable with acting".

To what does he attribute the success of All Saints?

"I actually think it's because it's so unpretentious", muses Erik.

"It doesn't actually claim to be anything more than it actually is. Our sets and our locations aren't grand, they're very much recognizable to the audience. The characters aren't high-flyers, they're ordinary Australians".

He likens the camaraderie amongst the cast to a family. "We don't always get along, but we know each other well enough to just get on with the job".

And what does Erik think of the reality TV boom? "I don't fear it, I don't think anything will replace television drama. Because you know it's just fantasy, it can actually extract emotion from you in a different way".

Erik has a medical background: his mother is a nurse, and his father, recently retired, spent forty years as a doctor. "I see in my father a great deal of compassion, a good bedside manner and the ability to talk to anyone."

"I think I've inherited that ability from him, I don't stand in judgment of anyone, I can find common ground with anyone, instead of dwelling on the differences. I think that when putting people at ease when they're in crisis, the most important thing is to make them feel comfortable. Ultimately, I understand that what motivates a lot of doctors is that innate compassion that they have".

Seven Network Limited