He’s been in the Australian TV industry for decades, but former Blue Heelers actor John Wood has admitted he’s been left “bewildered” by it – and worries he’ll “vanish” now he’s over the age of 60.
The Gold Logie Award-winning actor, 72, is best known for his roles as senior sergeant Tom Croydon in the long running police drama, as well as Michael Rafferty in legal drama Rafferty’s Rules.
However, while he’s still acting on stage – (he’s currently taking on a lead role in comedy Senior Moments) – John has admitted there needs to be more “respect” for Aussie actors and actresses over the age of 60.
“The Australian entertainment industry bewilders me,” he told Starts at 60 in an exclusive chat. “You look at the number of movies that have come out of the UK in the last 10 years like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench – they are treated by their peers with a high level of respect and regard.
“But in Australia you get over 60 and you disappear, you vanish. I would like to see some more stuff, particularly on TV, using people in our age group. There’s a massive audience out there in our demographic.”
It means so much to him that John has now begun early work on a new TV show he hopes to push through, focusing on a nursing home with more senior cast members.
“I’m actually speaking to Channel 10 at the moment about trying to set up a series in a nursing home,” he added. “It would use older actors, as well as younger people of course. There won’t be any bikini wearing or anything like that!”
Despite his worries over the industry as a whole, John has no plans to retire from it any time soon, and admitted: “I don’t really have a choice. I don’t have millions of dollars socked away and a fairly average superannuation fund which I haven’t yet broken in to. I haven’t got on a pension either, because I’m earning too much money on Senior Moments to go on it. But I’m very happy to be working instead of going on a pension.”
John is now focusing on the comedy play in particular. It follows the lives of a group of older people on stage as they struggle to deal with the younger people alongside them, and their differing views. It tackles a series of social issues and puts a funny spin on people’s everyday lives – appealing to all demographics in the audience.
Asked how the comedy can help people watching it in the audience, who may be stressed with their own personal issues at the time, he said: “If people can just see the funny side of things they might not be so quick to jump down people’s throats over things.
“We used to be able to laugh at ourselves and each other very easily. A lot of Australian humour comes from British sensibilities, but now most of the stuff I thought was fairly innocent [isn’t appropriate now].
“This show lets us laugh at ourselves and the difficulties of getting old.”