Richard Roxburgh as Senator Cleaver Greene in the final season of the TV series Rake.
Richard Roxburgh as Senator Cleaver Greene in the final season of the TV series Rake.

Rake's roast of Canberra provides much needed comic relief

HE MAY be an Australian Senator, but life is just as chaotic as ever for Cleaver Greene.

In an absurd but all too believable development, the criminal barrister-turned-politician is navigating Canberra's halls of power in the fifth and final season of the ABC's award-winning satire Rake.

It's a bitter-sweet time for star Richard Roxburgh, whose charismatic portrayal of the lovable scoundrel has garnered critical acclaim and inspired a short-lived US adaptation starring Greg Kinnear.

"It's been such a highlight in my creative life, and all of our creative lives, working on Rake," he says.

"It's been eight years and there just comes a time when it's time. We wanted to finish it beautifully, and I think we've done that - beautiful in a Cleaver Greene sort of way."

Richard Roxburgh in a scene from the final season of Rake.
Richard Roxburgh in a scene from the final season of Rake. Tony Mott

In the final season, viewers find Greene in the Senate after his tongue-in-cheek campaign to "do nothing" surprisingly gets him elected. He admits his surname's similarity to the Greens also probably helped.

"His natural resting place is on the slippery side of the law, so the natural trajectory really was the Senate," Roxburg says.

"It's perfect for him in so many ways. It was very tricky in a sense it was starting from scratch. There's new characters and obviously the mechanical things like the new protocols we had to get on top of."

The absurdity ramps up in this Sunday's episode as Cleaver goes viral for an impassioned speech made while wearing a zebra costume. You'll have to tune in to find out why he's gone safari.

"There's this accidental wonderment of Cleaver's world," Roxburgh says.

Richard Roxburgh and Jane Turner in a scene from Rake.
Richard Roxburgh and Jane Turner in a scene from Rake. ABC-TV

"Sometimes he trips over and does something genuinely kind of marvellous completely by accident and shocks everybody.

"The whole idea of doing nothing and saying nothing is all very well in theory, but like all of Cleaver's theories it's never going to work in the end in the real world. It's going blow up in his face and burn his eyebrows off. He's forced by the force of life to undertake something, but because it's Cleaver it doesn't necessarily come from the right place originally. It comes from all the wrong places for the wrong reasons."

So will the acclaimed series wrap up with some moment of reflection, realisation or reconciliation for Cleaver?

"There are these occasional moments when it all goes completely to s--- and he's left standing in the awful light of a realisation of something that has happened," Roxbourgh says.

"You sort of get a glimpse into the soul of Cleaver Greene, and that's always been important. There's maybe a moment or two of that nature, but of course it being Cleaver he pretty quickly moves on. He's such a jack in the box; he's so constantly on the move with his shoes on fire."

Rake airs Sundays at 8.30pm on ABC-TV.


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