Baffled by Blake

A while back, as I was watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, people were also telling me to watch another period crime-solving series called The Doctor Blake Mysteries also set in the Australian province of Victoria (at the end of 1950s/beginning 1960s and not in the 1920s like Miss Fisher). Over the years I’ve watched a fan video or two but nothing pulled me across the line. That is, until I was staying at my brother’s in London a few weeks ago. My brother had to leave early for work while I stayed with him, so I sat down for breakfast on my own with a bowl of Weetabix and a cup of tea and flipped through channels after watching the news. I landed on a re-run of a Doctor Blake episode and got stuck watching. “Hmm, pretty good!” I thought and the next morning over breakfast I watched another. “OK, I’ll check it out from the beginning when I get home,” I decided.

The actress playing Dr. Blake’s widowed housekeeper, Mrs. Jean Beazley, looked slightly familiar to me. I’m pretty good with faces, I just knew I knew her from something. I looked her up, Nadine Garner, but nothing really rang a bell.

She did do two guest episodes on The Flying Doctors, my go-to end 1980s TV show, so I figured I probably knew her face from there. And I was right, when I saw her episode description, I even remembered the story. She’d also been on a few Neighbours episodes that I used to watch a little on and off in the Kylie Minogue days and I may or may not have seen her there too. In any case, I now knew where to place her and then moved on to researching the main actor playing Lucien Blake.

I really like Lucien Blake –  the police surgeon who helps solve murder cases. He comes to Ballarat after 30 years away to take over his deceased father’s practice and is the go-to guy for the police to help solve these murders. He’s very smart, knows how to charm people for answers, always polished, likes his whiskey too much (he has a lot of wartime trauma to deal with), always focused on his work, he has a warm heart but doesn’t let many people close even though somehow Jean is able to get under his skin. I figured I should’ve seen this actor before. After all, pretty much every Aussie actor of his generation and older has been on The Flying Doctors, but he didn’t look familiar to me. As I said before, I’m good with faces and I was also sure I had never seen this actor before. Turns out I was wrong!

Dr. Lucien Blake is played by actor Craig McLachlan. When I googled him, my eyes popped. Apparently I did know him! He too had been on Neighbours, he’d played Kylie Minogue’s brother, a beach bum hunk called Henry Ramsay (I had to look his Neighbours name up).

I was baffled! How had I not recognized him? I think I’ve seen more of Craig McLachlan on Neighbours than I’ve ever seen of Nadine Garner. I mean seriously, how is this the same guy……?

Yeah, if you look closely, you do see it. I just had the Henry character in mind as a guy that I really did not like; he was this sexy guy the girls were supposed to love but I never could. Too muscly and beach bummy and in my memory too dumb to really like. Lucien, on the other hand, is a total attraction – smart, warm, a man with his demons, sometimes annoying and a bit too full of himself, but always interesting. How could these two opposites be the same man underneath? So, I binge-watched Doctor Blake and I am still trying to wrap my mind around this dichotomy. It still seems impossible to me and I am completely under the spell of this surprise. Craig McLachlan does a brilliant job at bringing Lucien Blake to life! Going by my memory of his portrayal of Henry I would never have guessed his range that he displays on Doctor Blake. The man can even play the piano and sing. Alas, the whole confusion doesn’t end there.

Sadly, McLachlan is embroiled in a case of sexual harrassment at the moment. The  Doctor Blake series is cancelled as he awaits trial and as I dove into that story I realized, yet again, that you can never judge a book by it’s cover. Maybe the man is a bit of douche like I remember thinking his Henry-character was? Or maybe he just honestly didn’t realize he was going too far (although, I find that hard to believe when I read what the women had to say)? I just can’t rhyme the fact that someone who has brought Lucien Blake to life can also be so controversial. Then again, this is not the first time an actor has baffled me so – think Bill Cosby, for instance. I guess we must continue to remind ourselves that characters and the actors who portray them are completely separate entities.

What this particular post boils down to for me is this: I never liked Henry Ramsay, I really like Lucien Blake and Craig McLachlan confuses the heck out of me.