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Cocaine and cleavage: The iconic TV series Westside returns

Westside. Photo/Supplied

In the return of the West family saga, it’s 1987 and Ted West and the gang are waiting to rob a safe.

It’s a new season of Westside (Three, Monday, 8.35pm), and there’s a new Cheryl West in town. Jessica Grace Smith steps into the iconic role for season five and you never know where that could lead. Perhaps even a Queen’s Birthday honour, as it did for Outrageous Fortune’s older Cheryl, Robyn Malcolm.

Smith is a graduate of Toi Whakaari and, apart from roles in 2009 horror-comedy Diagnosis: Death and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, she has also written and directed her own short film, Everybody Else Is Taken. She is also known to soap fans as Denny in Home and Away.

She is certainly landing in the deep end on Westside – as if there were any other end. As the season begins, twins Van and Jethro are three and Cheryl is about to give birth to Pascalle.

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

And as co-creator James Griffin joins the dots in what has become known, to Griffin at least, as the Outrageous Televisual Universe (it’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe but with Westies, more crime and fewer special effects), another OTU loop closes. As Pascalle arrives, so does Brandon, Wolf’s son with Anne-Marie Gibbs, who was revealed in season two of Outrageous Fortune.

Smith says the season is all about Cheryl and Wolf’s early years as parents and “protecting my kids like a mother lion, fighting and making up with and fighting some more with Wolf, and punching a certain character in the face”. As ever, Rita (Antonia Prebble) is hiding a tonne of secrets.

It’s now 1987, and as the country celebrates our defeat by Dennis Conner in the America’s Cup, Ted (David de Lautour) and the gang are hiding out waiting to rob the safe of a gold futures firm.

But the times, they are a’changin’: Lefty (Dan Musgrove) and Ngaire (Esther Stephens) have been seduced by the deregulated future promised by Rogernomics and by the cocaine flowing into the country to cater to the yuppie stockbrokers on Queen St.

There is also a worrying number of security cameras capturing both Ted and Wolf’s gangs, which is where a new villain comes in. Businessman Frankie Figgs, played by the veteran Peter Elliott, is not best pleased that Wolf (Reef Ireland) and the gang have ripped off his warehouse.

The West family saga reaches a milestone this season – beginning with Outrageous Fortune, their story will rack up 150 episodes, which raises the question of how many more it will take to span from 1987 to 2005. Plenty, we hope.

This article was first published in the June 15, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.