The reunion between Ryder Jackson (Lukas Radovich) and long-lost dad Evan Slater (Cameron Daddo) in Home and Away becomes all the more emotional as the teen finally learns the real reason his father tracked him down – he’s dying.
Upfront about his absence from his son’s life and ready to rectify his mistakes, Evan has won Ryder round and even manages to charm the lad’s grumpy granddad, Summer Bay stalwart Alf Stewart, at a family dinner in which he promises to make up for lost time with his offspring.
Unable to watch her nephew being lied to, on Thursday 9th July concerned Roo Stewart reveals to Ryder what Evan told her, that he does not have long to live but doesn’t want anyone to know…
“Ryder was suspicious that Evan was looking for money or was in trouble and that’s why he came to the Bay,” says Radovich, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “As soon as he begins to trust him it makes it a bigger shock when he discovers Evan is sick. He finally accepts him into his life, then realises he has been lied to.”
The bombshell has an understandably epic impact, but Ryder’s reaction is more surprising as he tells Roo and Alf he refuses to discuss it with Evan and wants to carry on as normal. As Roo has gone behind Evan’s back, he’s none the wiser his son knows the truth.
“Once the initial shock has gone, Ryder is angry that Evan wasn’t truthful with him from the very beginning,” continues Radovich, “but obviously he has to overcome that by the end of Evan’s life as Ryder realises he needs to spend as much time as he can with his father before he passes away.
“He speaks to his best friend Nikau Parata, who lost his own father, and he advises him to create as many memories as he can with Evan. So Ryder thinks even though Evan might not be around for very long, he needs to make it count.”
With no chance of a happy ending for the storyline, Radovich reflects on how meeting Evan and the inevitable loss ahead could shape his character in the future.
“I think this experience will mature him in the sense that he realises how important family is and how you need to maintain connections with those who are willing to support you,” he says.
“After not wanting anything to do with him, at one point Ryder realises all Evan wanted was to connect with his son and to share some part, even if it’s a small part, with him.
“So moving forwards, Ryder will try to hold onto the relationships he has with his friends and family, and to cherish them as much as he can.”
In heartbreaking scenes, father and son continue to bond without addressing the elephant in the room, and Ryder asks musician Evan to play a concert for the locals at Salt hoping to make it a special event they can share.
Tragically avoiding the truth, how long can they go without acknowledging Evan’s declining health? And just how long has Evan got left?