The other woman's work is never done

Kiss ... Dave (Erik Thomson) and Frankie (Brooke Satchwell).
Kiss ... Dave (Erik Thomson) and Frankie (Brooke Satchwell).

LATE in 2012, Brooke Satchwell was standing in a grocery shop when she noticed a woman looking at her.

It's a moment many actors face - when they're recognised for the role they're currently playing - but in this case she knew nobody would be asking for an autograph.

''I'm not very happy with you,'' the woman said. And Satchwell understood. The night before, as electrician Frankie Calasso, Satchwell had done the unthinkable and kissed Packed to the Rafters's beloved dad Dave (played by Erik Thomson), potentially derailing what had until then been the country's most stable screen family.

It was a dramatic goldmine for the actors, but Satchwell had guessed not everyone would be happy. And apparently she was right.

''It was definitely interesting territory for Packed to the Rafters to go into, because the premise of the show is their solid family unit,'' Satchwell says, laughing, as the next season of the drama goes into production - with Frankie still very much a part of the action.

''I thought I'd at least have some time to curry favour with the audience before I tore apart their hopes and dreams … but nope, it all happened pretty fast.''

What followed led to last season's cliffhanger, with the family slowly recovering, but broken trust an issue. And while they're all trying to put the moment in the past, it will echo through this year, Satchwell says.

''I think it was pretty extraordinary and a testament to forgiveness that Julie [Rafter, played by Rebecca Gibney] is actually championing Frankie's return. What a big woman!''

But not everyone is as forgiving as Julie, Satchwell adds, and that's what we'll see play out in 2013.

''With the episodic television timeline of one hour per week, there is a different timeline for the Rafters than there is for the rest of us, so when we return, some time will have passed. It's interesting to see the progression through anger and grief and forgiveness played out quickly … how it works and how those little, and big, moments impact on each character and how the characters process and deal with it.

''But I think that's what this show does that is like real life. Every day you have to get up and get on with it, and that's exactly what happens with the Rafters.''

So with Frankie there to remind the Rafters of what was nearly their biggest mistake, everyone forced to look at their own behaviour, and some family members due to be absent, big things are in store.

Satchwell jokes she would happily throw more grenades into the storyline: ''I would make it Frankie's mission to see how many of the Rafter relatives she can work her way through before the end of the series and how much forgiveness she can earn.''

Packed to the Rafters returns to Channel Seven in 2013.

This story The other woman's work is never done first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.