Another Packed to the Rafters cast member, James Stewart (Jake Barton) is set to leave the series.
The Herald Sun reports he will join former cast member and partner Jessica Marais in the US to take care of their new child.
A Seven spokesperson said, “It’s all about the baby for James and we back his decision with all our love and support.
“We don’t know whether he’ll be back at this stage. That’s still being worked out.”
The news follows Hugh Sheridan defecting to TEN and on-going concern about the core cast exiting the hit series.
Recently creator Bevan Lee addressed the issue in Encore:
“When creating a long-running series, you establish a core set of characters and, if you are successful, you make the nation fall in love with them. And for a long-running love affair, that character mix should remain relatively stable from season to season. In the past you signed your cast to three-year contracts, hoping success would make them remain even after that period. One relied on the motto, ‘when you’re on a good thing, stick to it’. Not now. Just try and get a charismatic newby with embryonic star potential to commit for more than a year these days. Overall, you’re whistling Dixie,” he wrote.
“And should you manage to do so, forget any life for the character after three years. It’s thanks for the experience and see you later. This is not an accusation or a complaint, simply a statement of fact.
“Were I creating Packed to the Rafters now, I doubt I would have used the word ‘packed’ in the title. It certainly exacerbates the current problem created by the actors playing the Rafters children heading for La La Land en masse.
“As I don’t see the overall problem going away any time soon, I am adjusting my way of constructing new shows at the core, buffering up front against this ‘desertion’ factor to ensure series longevity.”
While it’s true to say that young actors might be reluctant to sign long-term contracts, I think it is also fair to say networks rarely offer ‘network’ contracts, ie. year-long salaries. When shooting ends so does the income. With most actors only being signed from series to series it is necessary for them to keep their options open for other work opportunities.
The Seven spokesperson confirmed Rafters would return next year, with new stars being announced in coming weeks.