For several months a year he plays the discerning, quizzical Doctor Blake for ABC. Then he steps back in time to reprise his Rocky Horror stage role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
“I managed to squeeze back into fishnets between the seasons,” he tells TV Tonight.
“There are days when I’m tired that I find myself saying to Dr. Harvey in the morgue: ’Hmm contusions and abrasions (mimicking FranknFurter) but what chaaarming underclothes you have, Alice!’
“To step out of Lucien and Jean’s world and straight into Rocky was fantastic.
“What was really fun was meeting fans of Rocky Horror and fans of Doctor Blake at the Stage Door. People would say they didn’t know if they would be able to look at Lucien and Jean in quite the same way again.
“But stepping back into this world is also a treat, and losing myself into Lucien again.”
The Doctor Blake Mysteries has brought McLachlan broad credibility, despite his decades of working in the industry and brought ABC bumper ratings. He even landed (another) Silver Logie nomination.
“How about that? Another one quarter of a century down the track! You just keep chip, chippin’ away…!” he laughs.
“It was a real thrill. It’s the old cliché of saying ‘I’m so surprised!’ but for all sorts of reasons we were. It was a wonderful result just to be nominated.
“The goodwill in the room from other actors and producers (was great). You can usually smell the BS from the real deal but the number of people who came up and genuinely said, ‘The show is terrific, well done!’ was lovely.”
Coming into Season Three, it’s the confidence that comes with knowing there is an audience who really dig it.
Now in his third season, McLachlan comes to the role with real ownership. But casting him in the role was considered unconventional at the time, a risk that has since paid off for all.
“In your heart you know if you are given the opportunity whether you can deliver something terrific.
“We all felt we were doing something worthwhile and something of integrity,” he says of the first season.
“But what was playing on my mind when the premiere came up was ‘F*** you can put all the pieces into place and tick every box, but until it gets out there in front of a big, wide audience, you just don’t know.’
“So if we collectively have a great confidence – for want of a better word – coming into Season Three, it’s the confidence that comes with knowing there is an audience who really dig it.
“Now there’s a renewed enthusiasm to try and do it a little bit better.”
In addition to Nadine Garner and John Wood the cast this season includes Craig Hall, Charlie Cousins, Mattie O’Brien, Belinda McClory, Joel Toebeck, Helen Morse, Rod Mullinar, John Stanton, Jeremy Stanford, Alison Whyte, Jane Allsop, Jane Clifton, Martin Sacks, Tottie Goldsmith, Gary Sweet, David Whitely and Marg Downey.
“There’s a really interesting through-line this year concerning Lucien’s parents. Without giving too much away there is a fantastic resolution, or something of a bombshell, towards the end of the season in regards Lucien’s mother,” says McLachlan.
“Fans of murder mystery will still get their intrigue each week but we also listened to the audience who want more of Lucien and Jean. People stop me in the supermarket and say, ‘Just tell her you love her for Chrissake!’
“So we deal with that a bit more!”
The Doctor Blake Mysteries airs 8:30pm Fridays on ABC.