QUEANBEYAN actor Mike Smith thought he was onto a good thing when he first starred in the television debut of Winners and Losers early last year, but even he couldn't have predicted how popular the show would become.
More than 1.8-million Australians tuned in to watch Tuesday night's series finale cliffhanger in which Matt, played by former Big Brother contestant Blair McDonough, was killed in a fiery car crash.
However Smith's character, knockabout aussie bloke Callum Gilbert, survived the episode, and the former Queanbeyan High student is currently shooting series three of the show down in Melbourne, where he now lives with his wife Jillian.
He told the Queanbeyan Age that the aussie drama had forged its own niche and established a unique identity.
"There was an expectation there that because it's from the makers of Packed to the Rafters that it would be similar, but it's a lot different than first expected," Smith said.
"I think it appeals to a wider audience than was first expected I suppose ... not only in terms of TV ratings, but on social media it's got a really good buzz about the show."
Smith dropped out of a science degree to go and study acting at NIDA in his twenties, and he first appeared on screens in the long-running drama All Saints, and also performed in the recent stage production of Billy Elliot.
After looking at the early scripts for Winners and Losers, he said he was confident the writers and cast could make the show a success.
"In a lot of ways I was very comfortable with the product they had created, but it always is very volatile [in television] and a lot depends on audience responses.
"It was nerve wracking for a lot of people when it first went to air; we wanted to see what the general response would be. And it was a little mixed at first, but it's got a massive following now," he said.
With a third series set to air next year, Winners and Losers has become a powerhouse drama in its own right, he said.
"Going on to the third series is a massive step forward. But it only gets harder and harder, because storylines go here, there and everywhere, and you've got to keep it interesting. If you don't keep it interesting you'll lose your audience."