First there was Waverley (Claire Chitham). Then Stratford Wilson (Antony Starr) appeared, whisking Minnie Crozier (Katrina Devine) off to rural bliss, and we met Amberley on Nick and Waverley's wedding day. Now another branch of the Wilson family has hit town in the shape of Wave's cousin Eltham (Pip Chapman). He's a country boy with a heart of gold, a soft spot for the wrong woman, and a few disreputable habits. Shortland Street may never be the same.
Actor Kip Chapman had an early insight into the workings of the Wilson clan. "I flat with Antony Starr who played Stratford and he was the first one to remind me that Eltham was a place name in Taranaki." As any good actor would, Chapman did his research and the results were interesting, to say the least. "Eltham is the only place in the southern hemisphere to have their water reservoir painted like a round of cheese," he explains. "And they were the first place in New Zealand to have tarseal. So, it's all going on in Eltham."
His portrayal of Eltham is turning out to be as quirkily individual as the town. Although Waverley was delighted when her cousing arrived in Ferndale to meet goddaughter-to-be Tina-Anne, Nick (Karl Burnett) was less impressed by Eltham's easy-going ways. Chapman admits that his character has can be abrasive, but says there are other sides to Eltham.
"He's direct and assertive, but not in a mean way. He has very clear ideas of how life should be; how women should act and how men should act. He gets miffed by people who question that." While Chapman doesn't want Eltham to be seen as a representative of everyone who lives in the country, he relishes the way that his character allows the show to play out all the drama of a cultural clash between city and country lifestyles.
"Eltham does view the city folk as quite odd and different. Their lives are complicated with things that he doesn't think are important, and Eltham's quite an uncomplicated guy." Chapman says he can understand some of Eltham's views. "Sometimes I wonder why people eke out a miserable existance in big cities when they'd be happier in a small town. I love giving another perspective on the big city. Because Eltham looks at Ferndale with new eyes, he gives viewers a different perspective on the show as a whole. Hopefully the audience will enjoy that."
After training at the School of Performing and Screen Arts at UNITEC, Chapman has been a freelance actor for the past few years. He's enjoying developing his television skills. "I love playing someone so completely different to myself. Someone who's confident enough to do things I wouldn't be able to do in real life."
consequence of Eltham's confidence is his pursuit of gay nurse Maia
Jeffries (Anna Jullienne). Maia may have given him a
resounding 'no' but Eltham isn't giving up anytime soon. "He
doesn't get it," laughs Chapman. "I don't think he's really
encountered anyone like Maia before." Chapman won't give say
where Eltham's hopes of romance with Maia lead, but describes the
relarionship as a learning curve for his character. "He ends
up liking Maia not just for her body but for herself. He sees
there's more to it than that. He does really care about
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