“Overwhelming. It was one part extremely exciting, because it was a new experience, and then it was terrifying because I wasn’t quite prepared for it to be so big.”

That’s how Johnny Barker remembers the early months of 2008. His Shortland Street character had just been unmasked as the Ferndale Strangler, marking the end of the soap’s biggest whodunnit and the beginning of a strange new chapter in Barker’s life.

Murder had never been an unusual event on Shortland Street, but 2007 saw the show take it to a new level.

On a Monday in July, it all began with the discovery of Claire Solomon’s body in a rubbish skip. What seemed to fans like a one-off act kick-started an epic storyline that lasted the rest of the year.

The entire country seemed obsessed with the show, everyone wondering who was the Ferndale Strangler.

When Joey Henderson was exposed as the killer, Barker remembers the reaction he got in public was emphatic and instantaneous. “Every single person had an opinion and was excited to tell me about it, whether it was positive or negative.”

It was an intense time for the actor, who faced abuse whenever he went out in the public, with one man yelling at him during a concert he was playing the night the cliff-hanger aired.


Full article published on nzherald.co.nz May 27th 2017.