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EXCLUSIVE: Rodger Corser on why he reluctantly agreed to do more shirtless scenes in Doctor Doctor

''I really had to talk myself into it.''

By Tamara Cullen
When TV WEEK calls for a catch-up with Rodger Corser, he's stepping out for some fresh air after a chaotic morning.
As it happens, we've momentarily rescued the actor from childcare duties – and he's soaking up the reprieve.
"We're looking after a few of the neighbours' kids today, so there's lots of noise in my house. My wife's in there, so I'm quite happy to be on the phone with you, thanks very much," he jokes.
This sentence alone is very characteristic of Hugh Knight, his bad-boy character in Doctor Doctor who has recently become a father to a baby girl.
As we point out the similarities between the two, Rodger, 46, pauses to consider the parallels.
"Hugh is a doctor and far smarter than me – I'm just an actor!" he says with a laugh.
"I'm possibly 30 to 40 per cent of him. I do have some of his flaws, but none of his brilliance.
"I also have a few more kids, so my home life is very different to Hugh's. While he's incredibly fun to play, it's nice to clock off and come home."
Rodger is reprising his role as the heartthrob lead on Doctor Doctor. Image: Channel Nine
He may not have the skill of a cardiothoracic surgeon, but Rodger is a family man at heart. Over the summer, he and wife Renae Berry gave their three children – Budd, Cilla and Dustin – a puppy named Eddie.
The gorgeous Jack Russell-Dachshund was adopted after a visit to his former McLeod's Daughters co-star Simmone Jade McKinnon.
"We started our relationship with the dog by going on a six-hour road trip driving back from the Gold Coast," he says of their spontaneous decision.
"I'm a glutton for punishment. It's been eventful!"
It would seem keeping busy has never been a problem for the three-time TV WEEK Gold Logie nominee.
But in 2020, Rodger hopes to donate more of his time to sentimental causes.
In the wake of the recent bushfire crisis, Rodger is acutely aware of his children's future and the need to take stock of what we value most.
"All of Australia has been affected and shocked by the ferocity of the bushfires," he says.
"I want to help any way I can. I want to do whatever I can, wherever I can. Some of the Doctor Doctor crew live outside Mudgee [in country NSW, where the series is filmed] and were evacuated at the time, so we've all felt it.
"Without getting too political, the response was slightly below par from the Federal government. But a vast majority of people have food, shelter and clothing needs.
"These were immediate, but where will they sleep tomorrow? The Australian public has rallied to help that gap. They're doing things that show real results and a positive impact for those who truly need it.
"When these things happen, you do take stock and try not to sweat the small stuff anymore. It's insignificant to what others are going through."
Rodger and his wife Renee with their three kids. Image: Instagram
Rodger with his stunning wife Renae Berry. Image: Instagram
In addition to helping the hunger relief charity Food Bank Australia, Rodger is an ambassador for men's mental health organisation 2020 Mentality Project. It's caused him to reflect on his own state of mind in another jam-packed year.
He also recently used his voice alongside his eldest daughter, Zipporah, to highlight the lack of recognition in our constitution for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"I'm a guy who doesn't like speaking about personal things – even my loved ones I can be protective of that," he says.
"But when things build up, you can develop problems. It can only be a good thing to talk about it and help others."
Rodger's talent and humility have seen him win him a place in the hearts and minds of the public for more than 20 years – and often on the TV WEEK Logie Awards nomination list.
But as Doctor Doctor enjoys its fourth season, its leading man attributes its success to those around him.
"We're the little show that could," he says.
"The show centres around Hugh, but it's an ensemble. It's humbling to get the attention, but it's also slightly embarrassing, because I know there's more to it than me. This cast brings so much to the story."
Rodger says he had to be persuaded to do more shirtless scenes in Doctor Doctor's fourth season. Image: Channel Nine
In fact, Rodger is far more modest than many assume – including when it comes to shirtless scenes!
"I did a photo shoot last year for [ABC series] Glitch, which I needed to be in good shape for," he begins.
"So, when it came time to film season four of Doctor Doctor, the writers assumed I was like that all the time, which I'm not. It's not sustainable!
"Then came the serious discussions about raunchy scenes where Hugh would have his top off. I really had to talk myself into it. It's tough to get back into shape at my age! [Laughs]".
As an executive producer on the show, Hugh caved in and "put down the ice-cream".
But it's all part and parcel for the drama series that's continuing to be enjoyed across Australia – and overseas, where it's known as The Heart Doctor.
WATCH BELOW: See Rodger Corser do the TV WEEK Two Minute Challenge. Story continues after video.
Rodger firmly believes the local production struck gold in a defining new era of television.
"The way we look at TV is so different to 15 years ago," he says.
"TV was looked down on as commercial and disposable, but the quality coming out of television these days entices people to spend time with these characters, and for longer.
"Doctor Doctor is soaring and I'm just riding the wave of a fantastic cast and crew."
Doctor Doctor airs on Wednesday nights at 9pm on Channel Nine.

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