Lust for life, love and Linda.

Offspring-15

“I’m going swimming with whales in Tonga! And I can’t wait to get back to my garden,” Linda Cropper tells me.

I meet the Offspring star after she’s just wrapped her final scene for the season. With big plans for her break I could very nearly be talking to her on-screen character,  Geraldine Proudman.

“I am looking forward to going home and it’s been a great series to work on. I’m always fine when things finish. I’m not going to get sentimental about it for long. It’s a lovely job to work on, but I’m always ready to finish,” she explains.

“I’ve had young women come up and say ‘I wish my mum was like that!'”

Having played the role for 6 seasons now, Cropper has become one of TV’s favourite mothers. Thanks to the show’s gloriously spirited writing, Geraldine Proudman is known for her strong and spontaneous mothering of her three children Nina (Asher Keddie), Billie (Kat Stewart) and Jimmy (Richard Davies).

“The thing I like about her is she’s she’s opinionated as a mother and she’s kind of into the tough love, but she’s also ‘Be free, we’re friends we’re equals,'” she continues.

“She doesn’t lord it over them, but she has an opinion. So I think she’s real. She’s a modern woman who’s lived through the 70s and the 80s and she’s cool.

“She isn’t some sort of ‘mumsy granny’ type. I’ve had young women come up and say ‘I wish my mum was like that!’ I think people like the fact that she has a lust for life and she’s she’s out there. She’s not afraid and she’s not a shrinking violet. I think people appreciate that.”

This season sees Geraldine venture into a clandestine relationship to spice up her life, but while she has also rekindled the flame with Phillip (Garry McDonald), none will come close to her flower-power days with Darcy (John Waters).

“Basically no one’s really replaced Darcy I suppose. Even though she gets a love affair there’ll never be anyone who is that special in her life. Even though they weren’t together they you know they loved each other and they have this family together, and so they’re still very close and kind of united. I think there are a lot of people like that in life. Not all people, but there are people I know who are incredibly close. I think the relationship with them was always ‘He drives me mental but I love him more than anyone.’ It’s that sort of thing,” she says.

“I see a lot of my character and Darcy’s character in the kids as well. I think that’s obviously intentional and very well-thought-out writing from the beginning. Nina is very much dad’s daughter, although ironically not his biological daughter.

“But there’s also moments that Geraldine and Nina are very similar although on the surface Geraldine is probably more like Billie.”

Offspring-Season 6-Episode1-3

“There’s a huge demographic out there who’s saying ‘Thank you. Hello we’re here.'”

Over her career Cropper has appeared in Farscape, Palace of Dreams, Cyclone Tracy, A Country Practice, Five Mile Creek, Wildside, Water Rats, All Saints, White Collar Blue, The Pacific, Old School, Rake, McLeod’s Daughters and Answered by Fire.

But playing matriarch to the Proudman clan is her longest-running small screen role. Cropper appreciates the energy invested in what could have easily been a quieter role.

“There are not a lot of roles written for people my age – females roles particularly- that are like that. They’re much more likely to a kind of the dour spinster,” she suggests.

“To be perfectly frank about it there’s not a huge amount of work out there for women in my age range. There’s a handful of us and we work but there’s not that many roles out there, really.

“Most shows are, dare I say it, male-centric. This is one of the very, very few shows that I can think of that is as female-centric as our show is. You’ve got to say there’s a huge demographic out there who’s saying ‘Thank you. Hello we’re here.’ That’s why I think they’re so vocal and so ferocious and appropriate it so much. ‘Finally something for us!'”

But surely TV dramas have plenty of shows driven by women? Wentworth, Love Child, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries?

“I think Miss Fisher has a very different demographic to us. I’m not personally expert on these matters but I think it’s more of an ABC older audience. I could be wrong,” she remarks.

“I think ours is a much younger, broader, bigger audience. It’s good that Love Child is another female centric here injecting but Offspring really set the bar, or started the ball rolling.

“But good on them I say.”

“It’s always nice to work on something that’s a hit and it’s always nice to work on something that’s ‘nice’ to work on. And this is both of those.

“We’re sort of confident but you never know”

Offspring‘s sixth season, famously revived after fans and network did not want the show to end, will soon be reaching its season finale.

Ratings have been good, so does that mean a seventh season renewal or is it a one-off wonder?

“We’re sort of confident but you never know, you never know,” Cropper suggests. “As you know in these things sure but I think we’re probably veering towards it more likely to be coming back. So bring it on!”

Offspring airs 8:40pm Wednesday on TEN.

12 Comments:

  1. So she smoked pot? Thousands, probably millions, of Australians do. The only reason more people aren’t smoking it is because of archaic laws. It’s actually proven to have significant mental and physical health benefits for people (hence why the ACT is legalising it for medicinal use). So as for what a great example she sets for her children and grandchildren….ridiculous. Her children are all grown up, probably done it themselves and her grandchildren probably won’t care.

    She’s not a perfect character – but that makes her human. Not all mothers have to fit a straight down the line stereotype – that’s what’s so great about Geraldine. She is different.

    • Wow – your statement about pot and example to children/grandchildren shocks me, probably I am living a sheltered life. But of course both you and I are entitled to our opinion.

      I agree that imperfect characters make a show interesting. Her character just isn’t resonating with me…but again, that’s my personal opinion.

      It’s still a great show though and it is the only Aussie drama that I am watching at the moment.

  2. I find this show more annoying than enjoying and I was a fan before. Can’t stand these ridiculous stories over and over again. Ghost Patrick, young lover from the hospital, Asher’s husband. Please!

    • I love this show but I am also sick of ghost Patrick. He was never my fave for Nina. I’ve always wanted her to choose dr Chris. Leo was good too.

  3. Its unfortunate, but the new season is just not very good at all. The writing is bad, there’s a bunch of new characters who are making zero impact, the relationships feel stale and the new plots are just plain stupid. If they wanted to finish while on top they never should have never come back after season 5. They had 5 brilliant seasons and now this new one is just tarnishing the quality of the past seasons now by being lumped with this new season. I hate to say it but unfortunately it’s what most people are feeling with this season. Its a shame.

    • I think people expected too much from the show when it came back – but I think you might be a bit off track with your assertion that most people are feeling the same if the ratings are staying good. If that was actually the case, the ratings would have dropped off by now, given it’s almost the end of the season.

      I actually thought a lot of season 5 was quite weak – the character of Thomas was dull and uninteresting played by an equally dull actor. Leo was good, but the spark was never there between him and Nina and that made their happy ending seem tacked on. Billie and Mick’s story seemed rushed – she never really sorted herself out the way she is doing now and realising what she wants for herself.

      So I’m happy for the sixth season, I think it’s as good as it’s ever been. Not every episode is perfect, there are always hits and misses, but the same can be said of any series…

  4. Great interview. Geraldine is my favorite character on this brilliant show (with Billie in second place). But an extra season? Stop when you’re on top, I reckon.

    • It’s high time that Kat Stewart won another Logie. From memory she was nominated for the silver for Offspring; i wonder if the producers will put her up for Supporting Actress (now it has been reinstated) or compete again with Asher in the lead category. She is my favourite performer on the series. I know she is technically a co-lead, but it has always felt like Asher’s star vehicle but for me, Kat steals every episode she is strongly featured in.

  5. Great interview, David. I have always liked Linda Cropper on screen. There is such presence and spirit in her characters; especially Geraldine. It is always great to see actresses of her generation have revivals ala Jackie Weaver, Tina Bursill, Deborah Kennedy. There was a wonderful emergence of actors thanks to the early NIDA years. Linda has certainly made the Offspring character come to life big time.

    • I think I first saw Linda Cropper as “Joycie” in the Cyclone Tracy mini-series anything else I’ve seen her in since she’s always been great. Apparently she played Dame Nellie Melba in the mini-series Melba but I only wish I’d seen that.

  6. “I’ve had young women come up and say ‘I wish my mum was like that!’”

    Well, not me. I find her character most annoying, not to mention hypocritical judging by the way she reacted towards her late husband’s affair whilst she kept quiet about hers. And I thought she was also smoking pot in one of the episodes. Yeah what a great example to her children and grand children.

    Enough ranting for me on Monday:)

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