It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Home and Away teen Ryder Jackson, who had his world turned upside down when his estranged dad Evan Slater (Cameron Daddo) rocked up unannounced in Summer Bay, but as father and son attempt to build bridges a shock revelation is set to complicate matters further – Evan is dying.
The emotional admission on Monday 29th June comes after suspicious Ryder questions his parent as to why he’s waited all these years to be part of his life, having had no contact until a few weeks ago.
Alone with Ryder’s aunt, Roo Stewart, Evan eventually confesses the real reason he tracked him down…
“It’s not until Evan is faced with his own mortality that he thought about getting to know his son,” says acclaimed Australian performer Daddo, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “He had a relationship with Ryder’s mum, Quinn, when they were both very young. It didn’t work out and Evan didn’t know Quinn found out she was pregnant after they split up.
“He got the news much later on. His son was never far from his mind but as time went on, Quinn made things more difficult and it was obvious she did not want to be found, so he gave up on the idea. Until now.”
Opening up to a stunned Roo, Evan insists he doesn’t want Ryder knowing the father he’s just found won’t be around for much longer. “He wants Ryder to get to know him without having the fact he is sick being in the way,” explains Daddo. “Ryder would feel forced to have a relationship with Evan, whereas Evan wants his son to want to spend time with him. He does not want Ryder to know he’s dying.”
Stuck in a awkward position, Roo agrees to keep his counsel – for now – but is adamant Evan faces the music and tells Ryder himself after the long-lost relatives’ falling out.
Unfortunately, Evan can’t bring himself to do it and instead throws himself at Ryder’s mercy and begs for another chance. Ryder agrees, and the pair take small steps to forming some kind of bond – but when Roo learns her nephew’s parent failed to come clean, she confronts him.
“Roo has been through her own experiences of grieving for a lost parent, as she spent most of her life believing her mother Martha had died,” continues Daddo. “She has a perspective on this from her issues that could help persuade Ryder to cut Evan some slack.”
For the moment, Ryder remains unaware of the tragic truth. It feels horribly inevitable everything will be out in the open at some point, although Daddo hopes viewers can understand his alter ego’s perspective.
“Evan is a very straight-down-the-line guy. He wants to get to know his son and explain why he hasn’t been there for him during his life. The only thing out of alignment is him not being truthful about his illness, but he has his reasons.”