Now that Nine’s House Husbands has been approved for a second season, Tim Campbell is very happy.
Having had long-standing support from Nine in hosting runs on Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune, The Singing Bee plus appearances at Carols by Candlelight, he finally has another role in a hit series.
But he’s also hoping for a bit of a promotion in Season Two that would see his character given equal partner rights, of sorts.
Campbell plays Tom, same-sex partner of Kane (Gyton Grantley), but unlike Julia Morris, Anna McGahan and Natalie Saleeba, he is not yet a full-time cast member.
“The structure of the series is the guys are the 4 leads and there are three girls, two are partners and one which is probably going to be a partner,” he told TV Tonight.
“The girls might have been on full-time contracts, I don’t know, but I wasn’t.
“I’m obviously part of the cast with a slow ease- into-it.
“I would love in a second series to take my character and be on a level-playing field as the other partners.
“But I took on the role knowing I wasn’t on a full-time wicket and I was doing my gigs so it kind of worked out perfectly for me.”
Campbell is most-surely an optimistic, and versatile, kind of guy. When the TV jobs slowed down he kept busy with corporate gigs with his band, lead roles in musicals and trips to the US in pursuit of acting roles in the Fall season.
Despite being openly gay to family and friends since he was 20, it wasn’t until 2008 that the former Home and Away star came out publicly. If that was a move that affected career opportunities, he isn’t sure. Showbusiness is fickle for straight and gay performers, after all.
“I did hear second hand from a couple of people that ‘He will never play a romantic lead again on TV’ but I’m not going to buy into that. I’m not going to change the world, I’m not going to change me,” he says.
“I’d take my home life over a career any day.”
Home life these days includes a long-term relationship with singer Anthony Callea. Despite frequently being touted as a profile gay couple, Campbell speaks of their partnership as having the same highs and lows as non-gay, non-famous couples. There are even elements of House Husbands that feel familiar to him.
“I can see a lot of my own relationship with this one on air as well. Anth and I live in suburbia and we’re not the cliché that is sometimes put out there, so it’s nice to portray that (kind of) gay couple. We don’t have a kid but there’s another element that keeps them together and is quite relatable,” he explains.
“Had they written two guys who were really camp or had issues with their sexuality I probably wouldn’t have taken on the role to be honest.
“What I liked about it was that you could easily substitute a heterosexual couple into the storyline and virtually have everything exactly the same. So that was something that really appealed to me.”
The character of Tom is uncle to Stella (Edwina Royce), and together with Kane the three form a domestic unit. While Tom handballs much of the parenting to Kane, a medical issue for Stella raises deeper concerns for all.
“One aspect of the relationship is Kane who in his personal life is a bit mixed up. But Tom is the bread winner per se and he has a bit of a struggle being a father as such. With Stella being in hospital it’s a bit of a throwback to his sister who died about 5 or 6 years ago,” he says.
“There’s a really nice moment where Tom wants to be a father figure as much as Kane. Tom is the blood relative of Stella but he’s offloaded a lot of the responsibility onto Kane.
“You don’t want to use the word ‘normal’ but it’s a pretty easy domestic relationship.
“Often when they write gay characters on TV they have issues with their sexuality with a story arc that goes on forever about that or they write the comic cliché and the camp guy. But we’ve seen all that shit before, we don’t need to see it again.”
Tom has been introduced gently to the show. If that’s a move to avoid alienating conservative viewers it has also meant the same-sex couple are not treated as an issue. But will they display the same level of affection as heterosexual couples? As Modern Family learned the hard way, not sharing something as simple as a kiss can become the elephant in the room.
Campbell admits in his own life he can be self-conscious about displays of affection.
“It’s something I had a chat to Gyton about. He obviously relates his past relationships as an actor to the scripts, but I said to him ‘Look, when it comes to being in public, I have a slight sense of awareness about public affection.’ So if there are scenes outside where you might be holding hands with your girlfriend I said I would probably double-think that. Maybe that’s just me!” he admits.
“But at the end of the day (our characters have) been together for 6 years so in any relationship you don’t walk into breakfast all lovey-dovey in the morning. I’ve been together with Anth for a while and my previous relationship was a long time as well.
“For the sake of putting up a sign saying ‘We’re a gay couple so it means we have to kiss and be affectionate in every scene’ –I’m definitely not going to do that, and I didn’t do that during the series. I didn’t make a conscious effort not to, but there’s so much more life to characters outside of scenes in Drama. All you are doing is seeing a little snippet of their lives written in their lives and put on the telly. Obviously they do sleep in the same bed and they do kiss but if it’s appropriate for the scene, yes. If it’s not, it’s not.
“If people down the track say ‘They’re not as affectionate’ then it’s probably because the scene didn’t call for it.
“But there is an affectionate scene coming up, in public, which I thought was appropriate so assuming the editors put it in…..”
If he sees elements of his relationship in Tom and Kane, I can’t help but ask: have he and Anthony thought about children some day?
“We have thought about it. I’m not in a position now, but my body clock is ticking so I’ve gotta be careful!” he jokes. “Honestly, I would never say never but there’s nothing in the short term.”
Right now his focus is on more gigs in the run up to the busy end of year season, and then looking ahead to more work on House Husbands. He is also mulling another trip to the US for the upcoming Fall season in the new year.
“I think being there fulltime would be a lot more beneficial but I’m just deciding whether to go back again or stay home and work. I’d rather be home in Australia to be honest, but we’ll see what happens.
“I was speaking to the writers and they were saying ‘If we go to Series 2 we have some good Kane and Tom storylines.’”
House Husbands airs 8:30pm Sundays on Nine.