City Homicide: articles

Nadine Garner

Garner says City Homicide most challenging role

City Homicide star Nadine Garner is often asked if she is bored being a mum that does TV.

The question riles her.

Playing detective Jennifer Mapplethorpe on the Network Seven crime drama is one of the most challenging roles she’s had, emotionally and physically, Garner says.

“The subject matter is sometimes really harrowing you’ve got loads of text, procedural text that you’re trying to learn.

“It’s not easy,” Garner said.

“When some people say you must be bored being a mum doing TV, I say ’No, I’m not bored I’m completely challenged every day’.”

From her first appearance as Tamara Henderson in the Henderson Kids in 1984 there are not many shows on Australian TV that Garner hasn’t been across.

She’s been in everything from A Country Practice, The Secret Life of Us, The Flying Doctors, and Stingers, among many.

But City Homicide - which has a huge 22 episodes this series - is a whole different story.

Garner, 37, gets up at 5am every day, gets home at 7.30pm, puts her baby to bed and then starts learning her lines at 9.30pm.

The unsociable hours means the cast - which also includes Shane Bourne, Daniel McPherson and Noni Hazlehurst - very close, Garner says.

“No one has got time for anything else,” she says.

“Not a social life, it’s just head down, bum up.”

The basic premise of the show, which is shot in Melbourne, works because it is so simple and “pretty basic”, says Garner.

It follows the detectives and their personal lives as they try to solve murders.

Real homicide detectives are used on set to teach the actors how to handle guns, armour and raids.

“We have a whiteboard and we sit around saying ’Well, what would his motivation be? Why would he do that’,” Garner says.

“So it’s really problem solving as opposed to lots of glamorous shots with scalpels.

“It’s basically more psychological and more character driven, and it’s about how we function as a squad in the room trying to solve any given case.”

Featuring quite a few action scenes, the show requires her to be super fit and super healthy.

Garner’s character is the only female in a squad of boys. Her boss however, is a woman, Superintendent Bernice Waverley, played by Hazlehurst.

“I wanted a chance to represent a modern woman on screen who was career orientated and potentially facing all those dilemmas of motherhood and marriage,” Garner says.

“They are really interesting themes for women to explore.”

City Homicide has won over audiences since its return a couple of weeks ago, pulling in around 1.5 million viewers each episode.

The show was also a big hit last year, but the cast were nervous that viewers would tune out in its second series.

The response so far has been a big relief.

“If you’re doing this kind of output and it’s not rating it would be soul destroying,” Garner says.

“This cast is pretty relieved because there’s a lot of pressure on us - second series and we haven’t been on air since September and all that stuff - so there’s a bit of anxiety.

“I just hope we can bring them back again this week, and the week after.”

Garner now hopes it can inspire more Australian production.

She recalls the days in the 70s and 80s, when she said there was 10 times as much Australian drama on TV.

“Drama is one thing you should be committed to making,” Garner says.

“I don’t think that we have enough on by a long shot.

“It can happen by executive producers getting inspired by our figures and our ratings and show we can get a huge audience by making a drama.

“Maybe we don’t have to make Big Brother. It’s just about taking some initiative and raising the bar.”

July 10, 2008