11 September 2019

Frankie J Holden, a life in the spotlight while based in the Bega Valley

| Ian Campbell
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Frankie J Holden at Tathra Beachside, a caravan park he is part owner in. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Frankie J Holden at Tathra Beachside, a caravan park he is part owner in. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Frankie J Holden says he’s running himself ragged. Speaking to him in the week following his recent Logie win it seems short retreats at home base in the Bega Valley are key to keeping him going.

Mind you life in the Bega Valley has been part of Frankie’s busyness lately, having volunteered to direct Spectrum Theatre Group’s smash hit season of ‘Ladies in Black’ at the Bega Civic Centre. A cast and crew of over 50 people which included his wife Michelle Pettigrove, a performer in her own right, and teenage daughter Georgia.

“It was a great experience and a great sense of community and a great example of community working together,” he says.

“We sold out eight shows, everyone was very very proud of their community putting on such a fabulous show.

“It’s an example of what will be coming as we go forward and get the new theatre up and running [Twyford Theatre, Merimbula].”

At the high point of the local production, Frankie had to juggle a dash to the 61st TV Week Logie Awards on the Gold Coast, effort that paid off – winning the Most Outstanding Supporting Actor Logie for his role in Channel Seven’s series ‘A Place to Call Home’.

“It’s voted by your peers – other actors and directors, and as I’ve discovered it carries tremendous cachet,” he says.

Despite being on our TV screens for decades, this is Frankie’s first Logie win.

“People just walking on the street are thrilled to bits. It’s humbling.”

Some of our Ladies in Black cast Left to Right Patricia Mills, Haley Fragnito, Georgia Brian, Michelle Petigrove and Mahamati — at Bega Valley Civic Centre.

Some of the ‘Ladies in Black’ cast (Left to Right) Patricia Mills, Haley Fragnito, Georgia Brian, Michelle Pettigrove and Mahamati — at Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre.

Frankie’s character in the TV series was Roy Briggs – a man of the land living in the days following the Second World War. His own country roots inspired the performance.

“My mum grew up in Bendemeer, near Tamworth. I used to visit nan and pop and my uncles and cousins there as a kid,” he remembers.

“They could do things I wished I could – ride horses, shear sheep, shoot and skin rabbits, they could slaughter a lamb and have it cooking that night for dinner.

“They were heroes to me, so to get this opportunity to portray Roy Briggs and bring those uncles back to life was a great honour and thrill.

“And I hope I did it justice [because] its a very hard time to be a farmer at the moment, I hope I gave them some self-pride and self-respect in the way I portrayed that character.”

Click play for the full interview…

As we speak on the sun-drenched deck of a cabin at Tathra Beachside, a caravan park Frankie and Michelle are part owners of, this fresh-faced veteran of the Australian entertainment industry is thinking about his next job.

“I am in the middle of doing some work on ‘Home and Away’ so I’ve been on the plane and off the plane – running myself ragged,” he says.

It’s work that might set Frankie up for another Logie nomination.

“It’s a great night [the Logies] it’s a chance for everyone to reflect on how lucky we are to work in the industry and do something we love, and make a living – I never forget that, ” he says.

“I use it as an opportunity to catch up with people. The only thing wrong with it [Logies] is that they want you to turn up at about 4 o’clock and they immediately put a glass of champagne in your hand and it goes downhill from there.

“But it’s a wonderful night to celebrate homegrown talent.”

Frankie says he enjoyed Tom Gleeson’s opening monologue of the night but does think he “blotted his copybook” with his Gold Logie acceptance speech.

“I don’t think he expected to win and he’d had a few ‘reds’ so by the time he got up on stage he was – tired and emotional, he did come round in the end,” Frankie smirks.

“I hope that doesn’t stain the rest of his career.”

Frankie J Holden, on the tele at the 61st Logie Awards. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Frankie J Holden, on the tele at the 61st Logie Awards. Photo: Ian Campbell.

In terms of his own ‘place to call home’ and his own busy career Frankie chooses to live a long way from the bright lights of his trade – Merimbula.

“I catch maybe 100 flights a year, the airport at Merimbula was one of the reasons why I thought this could work,” he says.

“If people aren’t prepared to pay for the airfare I just won’t do the work, its just a commute to me.”

“I can cherry pick what I do – if it’s interesting if it’s something that will stimulate me and if they [employers] make it easy for me to keep coming back home…or if its rock n roll!

“For example, I knocked back ‘Muriel’s Wedding the Musical’ because I would have been away for a year and not have got home – I just don’t want to do that.

“We moved here in 2004 (from Melbourne), my wife Michelle – her family were here.

“I love the fact that in the main street of Pambula or Merimbula you’ll see a real cross-section of genuine Australian life, and there’s the natural beauty of the area.

“I’ve travelled all over Australia and a lot of the world and this [Bega Valley/Sapphire Coast] is one of the best parts I’ve seen from an all-round point of view.”

Outside of his current stint on ‘Home and Away’, Frankie can be seen performing his beloved rock n roll regularly at Tathra Beachside.

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Good for you Frankie!

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