As Luke Jacobz returns to Home & Away after a 10 year absence, he remembers the phone call that changed everything.
His contract was nearing an end back in 2010 when Seven had to hurriedly replace its new X Factor host Matthew Newton. Seven turned to Jacobz to get them out of a tight spot in less than a week.
“I would have happily stayed forever. There was a situation where The X Factor needed a host and the hours were too much to do both,” he recalls.
“I actually got called off set. I think Cameron Welsh was the EP of Home & Away and he said, ‘You need to ring (programming boss) Tim Worner.’ Next thing you know I was getting a photo shoot that day and the following Sunday we were on air.
“If I hadn’t done X Factor I would have stayed on Home & Away.”
“If I hadn’t done X Factor I would have stayed on Home & Away. But I’m extremely grateful I did it. Live television is brilliant. I do miss it.”
Jacobz went on to host 6 seasons of X Factor, and subsequently Instant Hotel and The Proposal for Seven.
Yet over the decade, many still saw him as as a TV host and not actor.
“I hosted a show nearly every year. I was always auditioning but when you host so many shows, it’s very hard to break back into acting. So I had a couple of years off and I did I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. I had a quiet year last year, which was actually perfect because I got to spend a lot of time with my fiancée.”
Now he returns to Summer Bay in a recurring role as Detective Angelo Rosetta, ready to investigate a murder.
“A group of people try to put Angelo off the scent.”
“He’s got a lot of hunches, some things that he thinks he can follow up. But unfortunately a group of people try to put Angelo off the scent. Some of them try to protect each other, so it’s not an open and shut case for Angelo. They don’t make his job easy at all.
“The first day back I had a scene with Ray (Meagher),” he recalls. “He said, ‘I saw your name on the call sheet. How are you mate?’ It was really welcoming and it was particularly lovely to see his smiling face. He’s such a pivotal role. He is Home & Away. If they ever change the name of the show, it should just be called Alf. But I know there has been a show called that before!”
Jacobz managed some 5 weeks of filming before production shutdown due to the pandemic, but is comfortable with new protocols since filming resumed.
“I feel confident because of the protocols in place at work.”
“We have temperature check stations before you go into any area of Home & Away. If there are any new hotspot areas we’ve got to sign forms, there are sanitiser stations everywhere, everyone’s wearing masks.
“Instead of having a turn around between sets of 10 minutes, it’s now half an hour, because the crew comes in to wipe everything down. Every glass that you touch is then put on a table that’s numbered. So that only I touch that glass. I can go and see my mum, and feel confident because of the protocols in place at work.”
Sadly the wait to see his fiancée is much longer.
“The last time I saw her was January 20th. She was going to come out here in March, and then I was going to be there at Easter and then she was going to come out here again… each time the date we had planned we couldn’t do,” he reveals.
“But the frustrating bit, where the tension is rising, is the unknown part of it.
“We’d never go more than more than 10 weeks without seeing each other.”
“We’ve been doing long distance in a sense for a couple of years now. We’d never go more than more than 10 weeks without seeing each other. Now it’s over six months. It’s hard.”
But work demands his attention right now, and while Seven has changed considerably since his last days in Summer Bay, he remains popular with the top brass.
“I’m just glad that Seven still considers me part of their family”
“I’m just glad that Seven still considers me part of their family. I have been on and off with them for a long time. I did a couple of years at Nine from 2005 – 2008 and I was on Channel 10 at the beginning of 2019,” he says.
“But I’ve never done a show where you badmouth another network, because that’s just not how it’s done. I’ve been with Channel Seven when they were number one, and Channel Seven when they were not number one. That’s the industry, we will live in. You go up and down in the ratings, popularity and busy-ness.
“That’s the name of the game.”
Luke Jacobz returns to Home & Away 7pm on Thursday.