'I'm so sad': Celia Pacquola gets ready to say goodbye to Rosehaven

Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola in Rosehaven, season five. Picture: Supplied
Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola in Rosehaven, season five. Picture: Supplied

Celia Pacquola is going to miss Rosehaven. She's packing her prized collection of cardigans into a little suitcase and leaving the idyllic Tasmanian town which has been home since 2016.

"I'm so sad," says Pacquola. "I don't think it's really sunk in yet, but what I'm holding on to is that it won't be the saddest of sads until the last episode goes out."

After five seasons, the quirky and much-loved ABC comedy is coming to an end. Season five premieres on Wednesday, August 4 and eight episodes later, Emma and Daniel, and the eclectic residents of Rosehaven will be no more.

"We were thrilled just to make one episode," says Pacquola. "To have made 40 episodes is just incredible, something we're all really proud of.

"I'm so happy that we're ending it on our terms, and we can have the ending we want, rather than outstaying our welcome."

Celia Pacquola on the set of Rosehaven which was shot in south-east Tasmania. Picture: Supplied

Celia Pacquola on the set of Rosehaven which was shot in south-east Tasmania. Picture: Supplied

Rosehaven captured our hearts from the first episode. Pacquola and Luke McGregor were an unlikely pairing. The two had met on the set of the hit ABC show Utopia in 2014 and hit it off, thinking it would be fun to write a series that "was just us talking rubbish".

"We didn't know people would like it," she says. "We were just interested in making something that didn't exist before, we built a world, and characters, and we didn't know if audiences would like the story, the humour, the dynamics.

"My nightmare scenario was that people would love everything about the show except for my character.

"At the core of it, people had to want to spend time with Emma and Daniel, and then the world, and then the characters and their struggles."

She loves it that the relationship between Emma and Daniel has always been platonic, that they love each other as friends and that's it - they are a team. That doesn't happen often in television, she says.

"We were nervous about that. At the beginning, the network notes said, 'they are going to get together, right? It's a will they, won't they thing'.

"Luke and I knew we didn't want that, but we said maybe, season two they might get together, just to keep the network happy.

"Luckily we found the audience was totally on board with it being a platonic relationship, a friendship, because we found that much more interesting and kind of rare."

She has that relationship with McGregor in real life.

"He's my best friend in the whole world, and it's been the best thing to be able to work with him," she says.

"I've spent more time with him than anyone else in my life, it's the longest relationship I've ever had - well, apart from my family.

"We kind of just fluked it. With our stand-up background there was this mutual respect, I thought he was funny, he thought I was funny, and we were both at the same sort of point in our career.

Small town life became the focal point for the series. Picture: Supplied

Small town life became the focal point for the series. Picture: Supplied

"We are basically our characters in the show, a bit heightened maybe. We're very different people, but at our core we want to support the other one, we care about the other one, it's been really great.

"And he makes me laugh. The things that happen on screen, the conversations which happen, have likely happened in real life at some point. Half the time when there's a bit of banter on screen about something ridiculous, like superpowers or whatever, that was generally a word-for-word conversation that we just wrote down."

She says there were days where things were a slog, where the two would "have our little differences".

"But we both hate conflict, so sometimes we'd apologise before we'd even had the fight. I would go, 'I'm feeling pretty shitty today, so I'm going to apologise for when I do this later today'.

"I'm going to miss spending so much time with him."

Pacquola studied writing and drama at university, where she was keen to be part of the law revue, "because that's where The D Generation started and I did that, even though I didn't go to Melbourne University or study law".

Pacquola is going to miss spending so much time with Luke McGregor. Picture: Supplied

Pacquola is going to miss spending so much time with Luke McGregor. Picture: Supplied

The D Generation changed the way Australians thought about comedy. It was clever and satirical and reflected issues of the times. Led by Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Marg Downey, Michael Veitch, Magda Szubankski, John Harrison and Tom Gleisner, it screened across the ABC and the Seven Network between 1986 and 1989.

Surely Pacquola can't remember watching the original shows? She was only born in 1983.

"We all knew who they were. I loved The Late Show [which started in 1992] and went back and watch The D Generation," she says.

"It blows my mind that I've been on shows with these guys, it's ridiculous."

One of those shows is Have You Been Paying Attention? on the 10 Network.

"When they first asked me to do it in season one in 2013 I thought, this is not for me. I don't do news, I don't do political stuff, but I was able to do it my way. I've never felt like a regular on anything, but I feel like a regular on that show. People will go, oh Celia's on, she's going to giggle and flirt with whoever the guest presenter is and do some terrible, terrible puns."

On the set of the 10 Network's Have You Been Paying Attention? Picture: Supplied

On the set of the 10 Network's Have You Been Paying Attention? Picture: Supplied

"The only downside of having to do the show is that I have to watch the news, which sometimes I find really depressing. I was on the week of a royal wedding and it was such a chore to watch it all."

In the beginning, Pacquola was dating a stand-up comedian who signed her up for an open-mic Raw Comedy night without her knowledge. She got to the national final where she was beaten by Hannah Gadsby - "like where is she now!".

She says the comedy scene was full of helpful and supportive women, like Judith Lucy, Kitty Flanagan, Cal Wilson, Denise Scott, Claire Hooper, Geraldine Hooper, Kate McLennan, Felicity Ward and Anne Edmonds.

"I remember when I was so new and I was on a bill with Judith Lucy, she came up to me, it blew my mind, I was such a fan of hers, and she gave me her number on a napkin and said if I ever needed anything to give her a call. Not that I ever did, I was terrified, but I consider her a friend now."

Covid's been a tough time for the comedy community. The Melbourne Comedy Festival was one of the first major events to be cancelled in 2020. Online gigs are tough to do, and sell.

"Comedy works best in a small space with a lot of people .. it's the perfect super spreader event," she says.

  • The final season of Rosehaven premieres on ABC on Wednesday, August 4 at 7.30pm.
This story 'I'm so happy we're not outstaying our welcome' first appeared on The Canberra Times.