EXCLUSIVE: Why Craig McLachlan hates life in the spotlight

The Doctor Blake Mysteries star Craig McLachlan reveals why he likes to live his life out of the public eye.
craig mclachlan

Craig McLachlan doesn’t want anyone to get him wrong. He loves being in [The Doctor Blake Mysteries]. It’s the celebrity side of things he’s not keen on.

Speaking to TV WEEK from the set of the Blake telemovie Family Portrait, he says he’s having “a hoot”.

“Whether it’s whacking on Lucien’s three-piece suit or throwing on the high heels for another doctor [Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show], I love what I do,” he says.

“The rest of what goes with our biz doesn’t interest me in the slightest.”

Craig isn’t one to share his life with the media. You might read the occasional mention of Jacob, his teenage son with UK actor Charlotte Avery, or his long-term partner, conductor Vanessa Scammell.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find Craig opening up about them.

“I made a decision early on that I was going to keep my private life private,” he explains.

Doctor Blake and Jean (Nadine Garner)

The 52-year-old is not a red-carpet regular at star-studded social events. In fact, he’s somewhat of a recluse.

“I’m such a Howard Hughes,” Craig says. “I don’t know anyone in the business.”

He’s never been interested in publicity, even back in his days in Neighbours in the 1980s, playing Henry Ramsay.

“Even as a kid, they almost had to threaten me – with starvation, cutting the mullet off, whatever – to get me to do anything,” he recalls.

“From a kid who just worked as a guitarist in club bands, to being thrust into Neighbours at the point of its absolute ascent and seeing what was happening with Kylie [Minogue] and Jason [Donovan]… it was so intense.”

Craig, who grew up on the NSW Central Coast, says Neighbours all happened at “a zillion miles an hour”.

“I was restocking the fridge at the Marble Bar [in Sydney] at the beginning of November and by the end of the year I’ve got my first TV WEEK cover,” he remembers.

“And then the Logies and my Gold Logie [in 1990]… I certainly didn’t come from a showbiz family and it was beyond eye-opening.”

With his 1990 TV WEEK Gold Logie award for Neighbours

But Craig looks back on that time with a lot of fondness. The TV WEEK Logie Awards he won for Neighbours and Home And Away – three silver and a gold – take pride of place in his home.

“They’re out and proud,”

He says. “I might apply a little Silvo to the silver ones now and then and give them a buff.”

With Craig playing egotistical TV host Eric in The Wrong Girl, as well as starring in Blake, surely 2018 could be his chance for a second Gold?

“I don’t know if Eric has fans − although people do love to laugh at him,” he says.

“Who knows? If the two audiences merge and I’m in with a shot, well, to paraphrase Prince, we would all party like it was 1999.”

One of the things Craig has enjoyed about Blake has been taking on the role of associate producer.

“I love it,” he enthuses. “It’s been an amazing education. To be more involved in story and scripting and casting has been great fun.”

With The Wrong Girl co-stars Medleine West and Jess Marais

Although this week’s telemovie marks the end of Blake on the ABC, the series is to live again on Channel Seven in 2018. Co-creator George Adams has come up with storylines well beyond season five.

“He already has six, seven and eight loosely mapped out,” Craig explains.

“You look at it and go, ‘Wow, that would make a good season. What a twist!'”

Craig is happy to be playing out more of the doctor’s storylines.

“I love Blake and I love my Blake family,” the actor beams.

“We still get such a kick out of each other.”

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