“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.”
“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.