Killer Role

Don’t miss 20/20 – the best of New Zealand and international Current Affairs presented by Miriama Kamo with reporters Pete Cronshaw, Paul Hobbs and Sonya Wilson.

This Week on 20/20
KILLER ROLE: All of New Zealand knows how the Shortland Street serial killer plot line played out on screen. Now, 20/20 brings viewers a unique opportunity to peek behind the scenes of one of the year’s biggest television events.

This week on 20/20, Sonya Wilson talks to Johnny Barker, the actor responsible for bringing murderer Joey to life; and early police suspect, Kiel ‘Scotty’ McNaughton. The 20/20 story picks up where the Shortland Street story line finishes, following Barker during his characters final days on air. Viewers will have the opportunity to meet the real people behind the characters. People that 20/20 producer Kiri Coughlan describes as “amazingly talented”.

20/20 reporter Sonya Wilson says “Thanks to Johnny and Kiel (Joey and Scotty) we had unprecedented access behind the scenes at Shortland Street – a fly on the wall look at how the actors dealt with the storyline – and then once the killer was revealed – how the public dealt with the actors.”

This is thanks to previously unseen footage from a documentary that Barker and McNaughton are making. Their film follows the creation and journey of New Zealand’s latest bad guy, the Ferndale strangler. The project documents Barker on the Shortland Street set and off “as he deals with the challenges of playing a serial killer on screen while dealing with increasing public scrutiny in his every day life”.

The documentary is still in production, but the pair are aiming to have it completed by the end of the year. Kiel hopes “people will get an understanding of what it’s like being an actor – not only a working one but also an unemployed one. What it’s like to be thrust into the public eye in the way only Shortland Street can.”

When Barker was hired to play the ‘nice guy’ nurse he was thrilled. Here was an opportunity to practice his craft daily, in an ongoing and well paid job. He had no idea that his character was about to become the person all of New Zealand loves to hate.

As an actor playing a serial killer is a double edged sword, it’s a great professional challenge, but it can be a personal nightmare. Both Barker and McNaughton have been on the receiving end of abuse from strangers on the street. As Wilson says “Despite his on-screen serial-killer tendencies, off-screen, he’s a really nice guy – but that hasn’t stopped people screaming out ‘murderer!’ as he walks past. It’s a pretty bizarre thing to deal with.”

“It’s been emotional struggle getting though the work” adds Barker, “but now that I’ve come out the other side, I get to look back on an amazing experience. Most people have been positive – there have only been a few crazy ones who have hit me with handbags”.

The ratings for Shortland Street throughout the dramatic plotline have been consistently high. More than 601,000 people tuned in last week to watch the plot’s climax. The public have been interested and emotionally involved in the storyline. The pair hopes this fascination will extend to the documentary.

To meet the real person behind the Shortland Street serial killer, be watching 20/20, Thursday 13 March, at 9.30pm.

Also on 20/20 this week:

DECISION TIME: We all like to think that when something bad happens, we’d launch into action, and become a hero. But 20/20 discovers some surprising results when conducting the ultimate social experiment. A thief steals a wallet or purse in a crowded bar, in a way that leaves patrons in no doubt a crime’s been committed. But will anyone intervene? You’ll be astonished at who chooses to chase after the guilty suspect, and who decides to turn a blind eye. And in this real life experiment, one unwitting participant will decide to act – in a shocking way. It’s a story that’ll leave you wondering just what you’d do!

LITTLE MERMAID: Little Shiloh Pepin was born with her legs fused together, feet turned outward in a condition called the Mermaid syndrome. It’s almost always fatal to a newborn, but after more than 100 surgeries she’s living life to the full. 20/20 brings together two of only three people in the world known to have survived this condition – alive against all odds.

NANNY NIGHTMARES: You’ve seen her hard at work on the Supernanny shows, but what’s life really like for Jo Frost? 20/20 reveals the struggles she goes through to help families work through their anger, and learn how to deal with it. She also talks about some of her worst encounters with tots out of control, and shares practical advice that every family can use.

PLUS At more than eight feet tall there’s a new entrant in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s tallest man. 20/20 travels halfway around the world to Ukraine to meet 36 year old Leonid Stadnik who is eight inches taller than the previous record holder… and find out what things look like from his point of view.

Voted Best Current Affairs Programme – TV Guide Best on the Box People’s Choice Awards

For up-to-date details on the programme check Keyword: 20/20

Thursday 13 March, 9.30pm on TV2

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