‘I was so overwhelmed’: Five Bedrooms star Kate Jenkinson talks the challenges of motherhood

She is sharing the spotlight with her son, Fletcher.
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Kate Jenkinson knows she’s outshone by the actor playing her daughter in the latest season of Five Bedrooms. But she doesn’t mind one bit. That’s because the actor is her own son, one-year-old Fletcher.

“The first time we were on set, he was a bit grizzly and upset, but as soon as they called ‘Action!’ something happened,” Kate, 41, says. “He just pulled it together.

Fletcher is a born star!

(Images: Paul Suesse)

“They did have a standby baby, but I have to say – no disrespect to the other baby – Fletcher just nailed it. He was pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. He really stole every scene he was in.”

Kate is every bit the proud mother as she poses with Fletcher for a TV WEEK shoot at her home on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where she lives with her partner Nathan Harding. Best known as Allie Novak in acclaimed prison drama Wentworth, Kate fell pregnant when she’d just finished shooting Wentworth and moved on to play midwife Grace in Amazing Grace.

She says the timing was “somewhat serendipitous and fortunate”.

“I’d literally never changed a nappy until I shot that show, so it was good training,” she explains.

Just after having Fletcher, Kate returned to work, shooting the third season of Five Bedrooms, where she plays Lachlan’s (Hugh Sheridan) ex-wife Melanie.

“Fletcher just nailed it.”

(Images: Paul Suesse)

“Fortunately, the writers were aware of that, so they didn’t write me into too many scenes,” she explains. “But they did get me back to sing karaoke and dance like a maniac three weeks post-partum, which was a lot of fun. I remember still feeling the stitches chafing as I was doing my high kicks – and I think I was leaking milk at one point.”

When it came to shooting the fourth season of Five Bedrooms, the producers needed a baby to play Mel’s daughter Starlet. Fletcher happened to be the right age.

“The producers just thought, ‘Well, why bother trying to search for a kid who looks exactly like me when I have a kid who looks exactly like me?’ And then we don’t have to worry, ‘Is the kid going to take to me?’

Fletcher plays a girl in the new season.

(Images: Paul Suesse)

“Also, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have him dressed up like a baby girl so I could play footage of him dressed in pink skirts at his 21st birthday!”

When season four begins, Mel is ready to throw herself back into the dating game, and she’s managed to line up a date with Ben, played by Stephen Peacocke. Ben has no idea how determined Mel is to get him into bed.

Kate, who’s known Stephen since she shared scenes with him in Home And Away more than a decade ago, says he’s “such a gentleman, through and through, top to tail”.

“He’s so respectful of everybody on set, but especially the women,” she explains. “It made my job all the harder, because Mel is the opposite of respectful – she’s really kind of carnivorous in her desire for tearing Ben to shreds. I had to be the aggressor!”

Mel also isn’t the most doting of mothers, complaining at one point that baby Starlet is “being a b***h”.

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“You know what? Being a new mother myself, I can be on board with Mel with this one,” Kate says with a laugh. “God, kids are annoying! They’re delightful – and I’m probably more gentle and maternal with my son than Mel is with Starlet – but gee, they really test your patience.”

She says a friend described motherhood as “the best and hardest thing you will ever do”.

“For me, that sums it up,” she adds. “It’s been unbelievably hard. It’s that huge and unchangeable switch between having complete autonomy over your own life to basically being a slave – a slave to a very adorable and needy human.”

Apart from Five Bedrooms, Kate didn’t have much work going on when her son was a baby, something she’s happy about in retrospect.

Motherhood has been “unbelievably hard” for Kate.

(Images: Paul Suesse)

“I was so overwhelmed when Fletch came along, and so glad I had time where I could focus on nothing else but learning how to be a mum.”

But now, she’s getting busy again, recently shooting a new comedy in Sydney and also attending Wentworth fan events. One thing the show’s fans have been wondering: did she name her son after Aaron Jeffery’s prison-guard character, Matthew “Fletch” Fletcher?

Kate says she didn’t realise what she’d done until she was emailing her Wentworth castmates about her son’s arrival.

“I sent a photo and I said, ‘Guys, meet my son Fletcher William.’ And I realised, as I was typing the email, ‘Oh my gosh – I’ve named my son after not one, but two Wentworth characters: William “Will” Jackson [Robbie Magasiva] and Fletcher!’ I’m like, ‘OK, this is kind of embarrassing. I swear, this isn’t some kind of Wentworth tribute.’

Fletch is named after two Wentworth characters! Was it really an accident?

(Images: Paul Suesse)

“If I have a girl next I’ll be really in trouble if I call her Vera Joan!”

So does the star want to have another baby?

“Yes and no,” Kate says. “As a woman in her early forties, I can’t imagine having enough energy to run around after two children. But I was at a cafe with Fletcher today and saw a brand- new baby and, of course, my ovaries started throbbing.

“I was older when I fell pregnant with him and was very lucky I was able to do that so easily. I’m incredibly grateful for him, and if he gets a sibling, awesome – and if not, he’ll just be a very, very indulged and spoilt only child.”

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