Guy Warner back on the Street

Guy Warner returns to Shorties

Sunday News | Monday, 14 May 2007


It’s been more than 10 years since a grief- stricken Guy Warner left Ferndale with his baby daughter Tuesday in tow – and quite possibly wearing a shoulder-padded jacket.

His wife, Shortland Street nurse Carmen Roberts – Theresa Healey – had just died in a tragic Christmas cliffhanger and baby Tuesday had a rare medical problem, that could only be fixed by doctors in America.

Fast-forward more than a decade and actor Craig Parker is delighted to revisit the character in celebration of 15 years of Shortland Street – New Zealand’s longest-running TV drama.

“Jason Daniel, the producer, phoned and went through the storyline and about Tuesday coming back and being grown up. It was really exciting,” Craig told Sunday News.

“I was in London at the time and it was getting wintery and here’s a good reason to come back.

“Working with Michael (Galvin) again and Laura (Hill), who I haven’t worked with before, I knew it would be great fun.”

It’s been a real blast from the past for Craig, who joined the cast of Shortland Street in 1992 – six months after the show started.

“I just looked at my audition tape from ’92,” he laughs. “It’s very, very scary, and slightly over-acting, I think, with LOTS of facial expressions.”

Craig’s character Guy is the brother of clinic CEO Chris Warner and part of the “Warner dynasty” that’s always been a part of the show.

But in a soap where relationships can start and end in a matter of weeks, Craig had a lot to catch up on.

“I had to do a bit of catch-up because I hadn’t been living here for several years,” Craig says.

“Coming out here the first day I was like, ‘I don’t know many people here’, and there was that terrible thing of not wanting to call people by their character name,” he laughs.

Craig has enjoyed working again with on-screen brother, original cast-member Michael Galvin.

Most of Craig’s scenes since he returned have been with Olivia Tennet, who plays Tuesday, Galvin, and Laura Hill, who plays Toni.

“Laura and Michael are both so good at what they do,” says Craig. “The amount of stuff they shoot every week is huge, they are pivotal characters. And they manage to totally be there for every scene.”

Guy’s return to Ferndale sees the sibling rivalry between Guy and Chris return with a vengeance.

“There’s some very strong competition between the brothers,” Craig explains.

“Chris was the one who did what dad wanted and was successful and followed in the Warner tradition. Whereas Guy was the one who fought against that all the time.

“There’s a fair amount of jealousy on Guy’s part of Chris’ success.”

When Guy left Ferndale, he was reeling from death of Carmen and the news he was not really his mother’s son.

Guy and Tuesday have been living in America ever since, following Tuesday’s successful life-saving surgery.

Craig says Guy, who used to be a social worker, has never quite got over the death of Carmen.

“He’s become a sort of Dr Phil-esque character who writes self-help books and is hugely successful. He’s raised the most magnificent daughter who is really the parent in the relationship.

“He’s as irresponsible and messy as he ever was and Tuesday keeps it all together,” Craig says.

The actor, who was on Shortland Street for four years, is delighted to be part of the festivities to mark the show’s 15-year milestone.

It’s something nobody dared to think about when the show began and was the subject of ridicule.

“I was quite lucky in that the guys who were in it initially got all the New Zealand knocking machine for the first three months.

“By the time I came in, people realised they loved the show. It was much easier for those of us who joined later.

“It was the time when taxi drivers would say, ‘I don’t watch the show but …’,” he laughs.

“New Zealand had never had anything like this before. We do like to rubbish things when they first arrive, then three months later go, ‘It’s actually quite good isn’t it’.

“New Zealand has a history of running shows for three years, then canning them.”

With that in mind, Craig is amazed and delighted to be marking the 15-year anniversary.

“This does amaze me. It’s incredible really. We’ve never had a show that’s run this long.

“It’s part of people’s lives, it’s still part of New Zealand’s culture – a very strong part of it.”

Craig enjoys the humour of Shortland Street which he sees as uniquely Kiwi.

“I still love the Marges, the Leonard Dodds.

“Every now and again the show has these bizarre eccentric characters that shouldn’t work but do magnificently.

“New Zealand has taken what was basically an Australian format and twisted it – our humour is odd.”

While his character has been living in America, Craig has been living in London.

After leaving Shortland Street, he acted on the Kiwi drama Mercy Peak and the Lord of the Rings trilogy before heading off on a belated OE.

“I went for a little holiday and ended up spending four to five years,” Craig says.

“The last few years I’ve doing a bit as an actor but mainly being a bum – just having a life.

“I left school and started working straight away and reached the point of stopping working and enjoying myself.”

So if Craig’s enjoying his return as Guy Warner so much, could Guy be making a permanent move back to Ferndale?

“I don’t think so but the six weeks has been lovely – a self-contained unit.

“I love it here (in New Zealand) but I so still love it in Europe.”