Wildside: articles

Decesion to axe show made me wild, says actor

Aboriginal actor Aaron Pedersen has revealed he tried to quit the gritty ABC drama series Wildside to protest against the broadcaster's decision to dump an episode considered "inappropriate" on the eve of the Queensland election. Producers eventually persuaded the 27-year-old to stay, but the suspension of the episode featuring a Pauline Hanson-style MP who exhibits "outrageous views on Aboriginals", still rankles.

"What gets to me is that you have a boardroom full of non-indigenous men making these decisions for us again," Pedersen said yesterday. "We might as well go back to the 1920s. That's what it felt like for me." Pedersen said he felt the ABC's decision showed tacit support for Mrs Pauline Hanson and was yet another blow for indigenous people seeking a voice in the media. And while the broadcaster has rescheduled the controversial episode for next Wednesday, the damage has already been done. "I was walking for sure, but not out of disappointment or disgust with Wildside," he said. "It was disappointment and disgust with the ABC. I wanted to walk because I definitely got the impression the ABC was supporting Pauline Hanson."

An ABC spokeswoman yesterday defended the decision as "legitimate". "We made the reasons plain at the time," she said. "Now that the Queensland election is over, all Australians will see the program next week." Pedersen believes the decision also undermined the acclaimed series which revolves around an inner-city crisis centre. "I thought we were creating a platform that was interested in dealing with reality and not insulting audiences," he said. "It wasn't so much the fact it was taken off which blew me away, it was the fact that the ABC considered it political bias. I think it was politically biased taking it off." Pedersen, who plays lawyer Vince Cellini in the series, said he resigned on 5 June after he heard the episode had been deferred.

After discussions with the show's executive producers, Ben Gannon and Michael Jenkins, Pedersen agreed to continue, but has made it clear he would leave if another episode was pulled off the air.

By Richard Jinman
June 19, 1998
The Age