Packed To The Rafters: articles

Mel's death a shock for Packed to the Rafters fans

Top-rating TV drama Packed To The Rafters chose a thoroughly modern, sadly all-too-real, way to kill off one of its main characters last night.

Zoe Ventoura's popular character Mel died in a car accident, after driving through a stop sign as she fiddled with her mobile phone.

That Mel was en route to a romantic liaison with husband Ben Rafter (Hugh Sheridan), had just listened to a phone message from him and had turned up their favourite song on her car radio would have added to the heartbreak for Packed To The Rafters fans.

Exactly who was going to die, and how, was teased out until the collision, but Ben's mooning over his perfect wife and fussing over their baby-making plans may have tipped off viewers.

The episode was expected to top 2 million viewers.

Ventoura's exit - she appears in ghostly form on next week's episode - is a blow to the show's glam factor, with Jessica McNamee also quitting Rafters this year.

Ventoura, 29, has moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting roles and her on-screen demise was kept a close secret.

"It was really important we kept it on the down-low because of the impact from the shock of it," she told News Ltd from the US.

"It's been a part of me for so long — it was really emotional."

This morning, Ventoura's on-screen husband Sheridan took to his Twitter account to express his shock at the magnitude of the reaction to the death, saying losing her from the show was sad for all cast and crew.

He even compared her upcoming television funeral to that of Princess Diana's.

"Wow!! 2.335 million people saw Rafters last night. Its gonna be a big funeral! Diana flash backs," he tweeted.

Fans of the popular show were blindsided by the plot twist, taking to Twitter, Facebook and Channel Seven's message board in droves to express their surprise and upset.

"OMG I loved Mel Rafter. I am like still crying and I think the show is going to suck without her and that they should bring her back. Maybe if we like do something like a protest we can get her back," one wrote.

Another wrote: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! Why Zoe, Why would you do this to us all... Your career was going so well, what more can you achieve over in LA that couldn't wait a while longer?? (sic)"

Some even threatened to boycott the program and the Seven Network, saying scripotwriters had made a "huge mistake" in killing off Mel.

"I have never written on one of these things before but I was so disgusted at Channel 7's cheap grab at ratings for one episode. That was the last episode I will ever watch of what used to be a largely feel good, uncomplicated show," one fan posted.

"It seems anytime a character gets happy, a disaster has to strike them!"

Packed to the Rafters averages 1.8 million viewers per episode, making it one of the most-watched programs on Australian television.

Now in its third season, it has collected nine Logie awards, including Most Popular Drama, from 21 nominations since its 2008 debut.

Production began on a fourth season late last month. It will air in 2011.

with the Newcastle Herald

November 3, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald