Thank God You're Here: articles

Shane Bourne

Shane's Bourne to perform

SHANE Bourne may well be the hottest talent on TV.

Not only is Bourne winning huge audience favour as the host of Ten's Thank God You're Here, but he's also set to play a pivotal role as a cop in the new Seven drama City Homicide.

Seeing Bourne in both shows will underline what industry insiders have known for years -- that he can make a seamless transition from comedy to drama.

One of the most appealing things about Bourne, who won an Australian Film Institute award for his role in medico-legal drama MDA, is that he's so free of ego.

This no doubt stems from the fact he has experienced the towering highs and the crushing lows a career in showbiz can bring.

Bourne's first "real job" was at the then down-at-heel George Hotel in St Kilda, where he delivered a stand-up routine between strip acts.

He was howled off stage by the punters, but his desire to perform was irrepressible.

"To be able to go down this path in life, I think you must give yourself the freedom to fail," Bourne says. "You learn some big lessons about this business when things don't go as you'd planned."

His father, the late Stan Bourne, could play 33 instruments and, in the 1960s, was one of the highest-paid, most versatile entertainers in the country.

Stan was an incorrigible entertainer who was so driven to career success that he spent little time with his family in Melbourne.

Though Bourne refers to his dad as the "absent idol", he's full of admiration for his mother, who essentially raised four children on her own.

"My mum was pretty gutsy and supportive of me as only a mother can be," he says. "Dad was a pretty hard taskmaster, but I think he'd be pretty proud of what I've achieved.

"It took me 10 years to 'bury' my father, I think, because I never had a fully fledged, father/son relationship and we were just reconnecting when he died.

"He was a man who lived hard and fast (he died in 1972, aged 58) and he was the catalyst for me pursuing this career.

"Looking back at that gig at the George, it was a form of insanity. My mother must have been thinking, 'What the hell is my son doing, I've spent my life trying to shelter him from this'.

"But getting out there and performing was a rite of passage for me."

LIKE his mother, Bourne, 56, knows what it's like to live as a single parent.

Bourne and his former wife broke up when their daughter, Ruby, was two. Bourne had limited contact with Ruby after mother and daughter moved interstate.

These days, Bourne has Ruby living with him in Albert Park and he couldn't be happier. If there's one thing he goes to extremes to avoid, he says, it's being an absent dad.

"I went on the road at one point to do a play for seven weeks and I didn't like being away. I much prefer being here," he says.

"It's incredibly rewarding to see Ruby blossoming and learning every day.

"Of course, it can be bloody hard being a parent. When they're in their teens they can act like they're four or 24. She's 16 and doing year 12 next year and I have had some of the most enlightening discussions of my life with Ruby.

"She's amazing."

August 08, 2007
Herald Sun