The Blake Mysteries star Nadine Garner, 47, has spoken candidly to The Australian Women's Weekly about the "grieving" she went through after news broke that her on-screen husband Craig McLachlan was accused of bullying and sexual assault.
The mother-of-two was preparing lunch for her sons Eden, 12, and Jem, nine, when she heard allegations McLachlan, 53, had harassed, assaulted and bullied his female co-stars on the set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2014.
"I went through a grieving for what happened to Craig personally and professionally," Nadine says of her former co-star on The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Nadine played Jean Blake, wife to McLachlan's Dr Lucien Blake in the hit TV program that was axed in the wake of the allegations against McLachlan. The Sydney Morning Herald and The ABC's 7.30 aired claims relating to five of McLachlan's female musical co-stars. McLachlan denies the accusations and has returned fire with a defamation lawsuit that will be heard in February 2019.
"I thought this was a storm in a teacup that would all blow over," Nadine told The Weekly, describing for former co-star as "flirty, fun, cheeky and a bit bawdy at times," before pointedly adding "and he's been that way for 30 years."
She continues, "Whether or not his behaviour is always politically correct is not for me to say, and what's true or not and what actually happened between him and the women who accused him is not for me to say either."
"I have no idea and I don't deny the women felt what they felt."
What Nadine did say, was that she is vehemently opposed to "that sort of trial by media."
"Craig is who he is and he's been that way for a very long time. He brings a persona to the set which everyone enjoyed for six years. He's an entertainer who never switches off and I think he was an easy target for the media."
An internal investigation into McLachlan's behaviour on the set of The Doctor Blake Mysteries found no evidence of wrongdoing, but in light of the allegations, Seven network cancelled the series.
Despite the turmoil, the show's producer George Adams was determined to salvage the show, and began exploring the possibility of Nadine stepping into the lead. Following a marathon 13-day shoot, The Blake Mysteries: Ghost Stories telemovie was completed.
"Before we stepped on set, I did a lot of imagining as to what it would be like without him. So, by the time we were ready to shoot, I'd worked out in my head how it would be because, once we were shooting, I had a job to do and I had to put emotions aside."
"My career has been a huge rollercoaster," says Nadine, who first found fame 33 years ago alongside Kylie Minogue and Ben Mendelsohn in The Henderson Kids. "For the majority of my working life I haven't had enough money – that's the harsh reality of it. It's very hard to survive as an actor."
The Dr Blake Mysteries came along in 2013 at a low point in her career, when she was tempted to give it all away. It was an instant hit, becoming the ABC's highest rating locally-produced TV show, and airing in 130 countries. The Seven network rescued the show after the ABC dropped it. The second resurrection, in the form of The Blake Mysteries.
"Some people might not like the series without Craig," she said. "We are aware of that. I care how he feels too. I'm sure watching us go forward without him is incredibly painful, but in making the decision to go ahead it was for the greater good of all the other people involved."
"It's sad that he will not be remembered for the extraordinary talent that he is," she said.
Read the full interview in this month's Australian Women's Weekly, on sale now.
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