Ditch Davey can relate to the Paper Dolls storyline about a young person being exploited

'No-one's immune.'
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TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses depictions of sexual exploitation. Viewer discretion is advised.

When Ditch Davey said yes to a role in Paper Dolls, he didn’t realise the impact it was going to have on him. In the new eight-part drama, Ditch plays Roger, a record company executive who has an exploitative sexual relationship with one of the teenage singers on his label.

“I’ve got a story about being taken advantage of when I was a young actor,” the actor tells TV WEEK. “That’s something I’ve never mentioned, and I didn’t even recognise that it was a thing until I did this show. And that’s where I was taken by surprise – that there was someone in a position of power who abused that power. I just thought, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ – no-one is immune.'”

Ditch plays Roger in Paper Dolls.

(Image: Supplied)

Paper Dolls is the story of girl band HARLOW, which has been put together via a reality TV show. The concept for the series came from Belinda Chapple, who was a member of Bardot, the band formed by reality show Popstars. The five girls in HARLOW face some tough issues – struggles with sexuality and mental illness, as well as the storyline about the young singer and Roger.

Ditch says the show, set in the early 2000s, gives an insight into the exploitation that was going on in the industry at the time.

“It was running rife,” he explains, “but to say it doesn’t exist anymore would be ignorant. We’ve got names for it – grooming, #MeToo – but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t [still] exist, and to be able to highlight it on this show is really important.”

Ditch says the show gives an insight into the exploitation that was happening in the industry.

(Image: Supplied)

While Ditch says Paper Dolls is entertaining, he also believes it will be a conversation-starter.

“There will be people who will turn to their parents or their kids and say, ‘I think I’ve seen myself on the show,’ or ‘I’ve seen you. Is there something you want to talk about?’ Those types of shows, I’ve been lucky to be part of a couple of them, and they’re really important for people to come out of the shadows.”

Ditch, now 48, had small roles in several Aussie series before finding fame as Constable Evan “Jonesy” Jones in Blue Heelers. Later, based in the US, he starred in drama Black Box opposite Vanessa Redgrave, then took on the role of Julius Caesar in Netflix series Roman Empire. More recently, he played neurosurgeon Dr Christian Green in Home And Away, which he says was “an absolute joy”.

“The way the audience embraced my character and me was really quite touching,” he adds. “I’d never felt that sort of warmth. I had people yelling out of their cars, ‘Hey, Doc!'”

Paper Dolls is the story of girl band HARLOW.

(Image: Supplied)

Since leaving Home And Away in 2021, Ditch has stayed close to his former castmate James Stewart.

Jimmy and I have a lot in common. We live just around the corner from each other, we’ve got kids roughly the same age and we really have a good friendship. I adore that man. Not only that, he was bloody good to go toe-to-toe with. I’d work with Jimmy again in a heartbeat.”

Ditch’s younger son, Taika, 12, seems to have inherited his acting talent.

“He’s been on film sets since maybe a week or two weeks after he was born,” Ditch says. “He knows how they run and he’s not that overawed by it. So we made this short film together and I was directing him and thought, ‘You little b—–d – you’re so much better at this than me!’ And I loved it.

“I don’t know whether he wants to do it or not, but he’s very good at it and I will support him in whatever he wants to do. It’s not about my ego, it’s just about him and whatever makes him happy.”

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