After putting in the hard yards on Home And Away, Stephen Peacocke is now at the forefront of Australia's new golden age of television, with not one but four shows in the works at the moment.
Five Bedrooms, The Newsreader and RFDS all have new seasons in 2023, while crime drama Human Error is currently in production.
"It's the dream for anyone, isn't it? To be an actor who's getting a bit of work," laughs Stephen, who welcomed a daughter with his wife Bridgette Sneddon earlier this year. "It's great. They're all good, fun projects and I work with excellent people."
The 41-year-old doesn't take having several projects on the go as a given, knowing how tough the industry can be to not only break into, but to remain in too.
"I've never taken any job for granted," he shares. "Everyone knows how hard it is to get work. It never gets old. I've never had a boring day."
While grateful, Stephen admits some days are easier than others. "It's always a bloody hard job," he adds.
"In many ways, it's fun because it's what I love, but everything's challenging and I'm very nervous before I do any of it."
Since he started out, Stephen says the TV industry has undergone a huge change – for the better. Streaming platforms have led to more work and greater global exposure too.
"Streaming services mean that sometimes you do a show where previously it would only have been seen in Australia, but now it can be seen around the world," he says.
RFDS, in which Stephen plays flight nurse Pete Emerson, first aired in 2021 and has since found an international audience, including here in Aotearoa.
Stephen, who grew up in Dubbo in rural New South Wales, says the outback town of Broken Hill, where the story is set, has benefited from an increase in tourism because of the series – and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which the show is about, has seen increased donations.
"Anything that brings people out here is worth it because it's such a cool town," he says.
"I worked on a sheep station when I was an 18-year-old straight out of school and it was very isolated, with huge, open country. I love that. So to marry the two – acting with being in the bush with a bunch of good people doing really good stuff – is excellent."
Despite his thriving career, Stephen never forgets his River Boy roots, playing Darryl "Brax" Braxton in Home And Away a decade ago.
"Any time you can play a character or do a job that finds a big audience and resonates with people, you should just be grateful," he shares. "It was such a good, fun job. I feel lucky that audiences sort of stuck with me – and that audience has become broader because I'm doing different stuff now.
"Acting is all about pleasing an audience. If you can find an audience and they like what you're a part of, you count your blessings."
Stephen believes his success has stemmed from his work ethic. "I figure that if you turn up with the right attitude – and it's easy to because it's a great job – and you put in the effort, which I always like to think I do, then hopefully stuff will lead from it."
Stephen teases that he has some exciting projects in both film and TV in the works.
"The good thing about being an actor these days is that it used to be that you did television because you wanted to get into film. Film is great – and I'd love the opportunity to do more and there's a bit of that on the horizon – but television now is awesome.
"It's as good as it's ever been, if not better, and the stuff most of us watch at the moment is good telly."
RFDS screens 8.55pm Thursdays on TVNZ 1.
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