AT LAST, ROWENA'S BACK IN THE SOAP OPERA RAT-RACE
Seven Secretive about her Role
Rowena Wallace is back on the set of Sons and Daughters
- and the rat is nearly out of the bag on the biggest secret
For how can the Gold Logie winner possible return to the bitchy
role of Pat the Rat while the show still has a resident rat
in the shape of Belinda Giblin?
The answer is that she won't.
"Put it this way: I'm going to be a different sort of
rat, a rat of another color," Rowena said after resuming
work on the show she left two years ago.
Much to Rowena's amusement, Channel 7 is still keeping mum
about her comeback.
The original scriptwriters have been brought back and secrecy
is supposedly so intense stories have been circulating that
the actors have to leave their scripts in a security bin when
they leave the Epping studios for fear that outsiders may get
a look-in on story developments.
But while the producers play cloak-and-dagger games downstairs,
closed-circuit monitors upstairs are displaying pictures for
any visitor to see of Rowena and Belinda, face to face, rat
to rat, rehearsing and filming their roles.
One brief scene was enough to reveal that Rowena's new character
will have a close relationship - sister or step-sister seemed
best bets - to Belinda's role of Alison Carr, alias Patricia
Hamilton, the murderous Pat the Rat.
"This secrecy is a bit boring really," said Rowena,
melting a little. "The thing is, er..." She begins
to mumble a bit, hoping we won't quite catch the words. "The
thing is, I don't return as the old character, you see.
"But it's great to be back. I didn't just enjoy playing
Pat the Rat, I relished it. I had a really good time."
How was it being away? Were there withdrawal symptoms?
"Yes, a little, Being in a show for three years becomes
a sort of structure for your life. You live it and you do it
virtually seven days a week."
Presumably Rowena's home life had been reorganised for the
return to television?
"There's only me," she said.
What could one say. Rowena Wallace, fabulous-looking platinum
blonde, living the life of a recluse. It didn't seem right.
"It may not be like that for long," she said and
looked down at her feet and giggled to herself. If we were fishing
for names, "there wouldn't be any."
"Before Sons and Daughters, I was just a jobbing
actress. I did everything: I did the Homicides and
the Matlocks and the Divi Fours like everyone
else. But I never did a feature film until Backstage,
in which I had a small role."
Rowena spent much of her two-year break from Sons and Daughters
working on the stage. She appeared in two plays, Stepping
Out and A Coupla White Chicks.
"Refreshing? Not really. I know actors are supposed to
say that stage work is great, but I find it painfully nerve-racking.
"Once I'm out there and saying the words I'm all right.
But I think about it all day and I can't enjoy the day because
I'm thinking about the performance that night."
Rowena is glad to be back before the TV cameras.
"Pat was quite a nice sort of rat," she said. "I
enjoyed being a rat. The audience wanted Pat to be a rat.
"The thing is that always in the back of my mind was the
thought that I was having fun and I hoped that I was communicating
that sense of fun. You are always slightly tongue-in-cheek.
"Pat had to have some saving graces. I mean, she couldn't
continually be the bitch. Nothing would be more boring. Sometimes
she was vulnerable and sometimes she was quite normal."
The Rowena Wallace version of Pat the Rat went away to South
America, was in a car crash, had her face smashed up and came
back as Belinda Giblin.
By: Robin Oliver