Canal Road: articles

Paul Leyden

Canal Road ... Paul Leyden's dark and troubled doctor.

Canal Roads dark side

Even Paul Leyden admits he had a few problems putting a label on his latest character.

As Spencer McKay, a psychiatrist working at the Canal Road legal and medical centre, he's friendly to his colleagues - even flirts a bit with some - and spends his days trying to help those who have all but given up on themselves.

But he's also a man obsessed with finding the killer of his wife and child, someone who's only just keeping his dark side in check and might benefit from the kind of therapy he metes out.

"Oh, he's a complex guy for sure," Leyden said. "In one scene we'll see him going out of his way to help people and then you'll see him visiting a prostitute, throwing someone up against a wall or in tears. There's nobody else like him in a lead role at the moment."

As complex as Spencer is, he's perfect for Canal Road, a show that breaks more than a few rules itself.

A medical legal series set in a busy inner-city office, Canal Road stars an impressive ensemble of Australian actors including Leyden, Diana Glenn, Klara Lisy, Brooke Satchwell, Grant Bowler and Sibylla Budd.

The storylines swap focus to bring each character to the front, with all the usual romance, intrigue and drama we've come to expect from prime-time entertainment. But it also incorporates a series-long whodunit theme with Spencer's quest for truth.

"There are a few problems with some series that have a long story arc like Lost or 24 where if you miss an episode you can get confused and give up," Leydon said.

"Canal Road differs in that every episode is self-contained, there might be a story following one character or another at work or in their own life and each of these episodes can be enjoyed on their own.

"But through it all is the overlying story of the death of Spencer's family and who is responsible."

It's that difference, Leydon said, that lured him back to Australia after establishing himself in America, most notably as Simon Frasier on As The World Turns.

"When Susan [Bower, Canal Road's producer] told me about the idea, I was immediately taken by the fact it was something different," Leyden said.

"And different is very good. It's good to play as an actor because you get the chance to stretch a bit and it's good because viewers will be surprised by the way the series evolves.

"This really has the potential to be something out of the box."

Canal Road, Wednesday, 9.30pm, Nine.

By Scott Ellis
April 14, 2008
Sydney Morning Herald