Reference > Erinsborough News > The Inside Interview: Mark Raffety
Mark Raffety has earned his wings and is about to fly out of Ramsay Street, so Jason Herbison finds out what the future holds for the dashing actor with the angelic smile…
Three years ago, Erinsborough was one of the happiest addresses on the soap map. But while young love and neighbourly feuds kept viewers hooked, the show lacked an important element – a great bad guy. When Susan Kennedy’s nephew, Dr Darcy Tyler, arrived and impressed everyone with his country hospitality, no one suspected that he was about to fulfil the role of evil schemer. But without a doubt, Darcy has become one of the darkest, most manipulative characters to call Ramsay Street home. From trying to rip off his uncle, Dr Karl Kennedy, to his machinations to win the heart of Dee Bliss, the devious doctor has certainly made Erinsborough a more interesting place to be.
But, alas, Darcy’s days of underhand dealing are almost over. Mark Raffety, who portrays the handsome medic, filmed his final scenes as Darcy earlier this year, and will be on screen in the UK for the last time next month.
“I’m a little bit sad to be going to be honest,” confesses Mark. “I think there is more that could be milked out of Darcy, and I would like to see him return down the track. I think he’ll be missed.”
Mark will also miss working with the cast, especially Jackie Woodburne (Susan), Alan Fletcher (Karl) and Madeleine West (Dee). “I really liked our storylines, especially the one where Darcy was trying to steal the surgery from under Karl’s nose,” he reveals. “His schemes to get Dee back have also been a lot of fun.”
While Mark has nothing but respect for the soap, he admits that he feels Darcy’s evil plans could have been pushed further. “If I could be a little controversial, I’d say that Neighbours viewers are more sophisticated than producers give them credit for,” he reveals. “There are storylines that are engrossing, but which aren’t taken to more extreme conclusions because of the teenage audience. Some of the stuff that Darcy got up to pushed those boundaries, but I’d like to see more.”
Like all good Aussie soap actors, now his time in the show has come to an end, Mark is heading over to Britain to make the most of the popularity of his Neighbours role. But it’s certainly not Mark’s first visit to the UK, as he was born in Portsmouth and spent the first few years of his life there.
“It’s quite funny as I did pantomime in Portsmouth last year, and I’ll also be going back again this Christmas. It’s like coming full circle!” he laughs.
So, was Mark an angel or a devil as a youngster? “Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails – that was me,” he laughs. “I’m the eldest of three – I have a younger brother, Paul, and a sister, Clare – and I’m the one my parents made all the mistakes with. I was a great example of what not to do rather than what to do!”
Mark’s father was in the Navy, so Portsmouth was just one of many homes for the family. But Mark was there long enough to make his first move into acting at the age of six, in a school play.
“I wasn’t part of the cast, but I got up on stage and pretended to be the robber the policeman character was trying to catch!” he recalls. “I got a laugh and thought ‘This is alright’.”
When Mark was eight, his father found work as an engineer in New Zealand, and the family migrated to the other side of the world.
“It was a huge culture shock for me,” he admits. “I’d come from a country of housing estates to a country where everything was open and green. And I couldn’t understand a single thing people were saying because of their accents! It was a very brave more for my parents, but it really paid off for us.”
The rolling green pastures of New Zealand inspired a lifelong passion for painting, and for a time, it seemed Mark might make his living in the art world. But fate had other plans.
“It was through a girlfriend of mine that the acting thing really kicked off,” he explains. “One day, she heard about an audition and said to me, ‘Why don’t you go for it?’. So I went along and landed the job. It was an advert for washing-up liquid or something, and although it wasn’t a huge break, it opened my eyes to what happened on a film set.”
Before long, Mark won a role in another commercial – this time as the lead. “I remember standing there with the crew in front of me, and I felt this sense of ‘I’m home’,” he says. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be in the industry, and one thing led to another and then another.”
Although Mark had appeared in shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess, he ranks Neighbours as his biggest opportunity – although it took him a bit of time to shape it into the role he wanted it to be. But with Mark’s help, Darcy was transformed from an angel into the devil we know and love to hate today!
“I didn’t find Darcy very interesting at first, so I came up with a strategy to change him,” he tells us. “To my delight, the writers picked up on it and we started to take Darcy to other places. Darcy has a childlike wish to be loved and nurtured, but at the same time he has a scheming side. At the end of the day he’s both an angel and a devil, I suppose!”
But as the devilish doctor bows out of Ramsay Street, Mark is looking to the future. While he’s currently living in Melbourne with his girlfriend, he’s not averse to another move – possibly even to the US, where his sister lives. In the meantime, he has another panto to look forward to – he’ll be back in the UK playing King Rat in Dick Whittington at Christmas – and also a highly dramatic exit from Ramsay Street. While Mark doesn’t want to give away too much about the exact nature of Darcy’s departure, he does hint that it won’t be a happy ending for the doc… “He gets his just desserts,” Mark teases. “Let’s just say he doesn’t move to Brisbane – he moves somewhere a lot, lot smaller!”
This article originally appeared in Inside Soap magazine and was written by Jason Herbison