Australian psychological drama “Wakefield,” starring British actor Rudi Dharmalingam is headed to Showtime. The eight-episode series, which debuted on Australian public broadcaster ABC in April, will premiere on the network on Oct. 18.
Dharmalingam plays psychiatric nurse Nik Katira, “the most stable person at Wakefield mental health unit” in the picturesque Blue Mountains of Australia. But as his own sanity suddenly starts to slip, he finds himself questioning the line between reality and madness, according to the series synopsis. Showtime says the series “explores the fine line between sanity and madness through the perspectives of staff and patients at a psychiatric facility.” It is inspired by creator Kristen Dunphy’s personal experiences, according to Deadline. Dharmalingam is joined by an ensemble cast including Mandy McElhinney, Geraldine Hakewill, Harriet Dyer, Ryan Corr, Sam Simmons and Felicity Ward.
Dharmalingam is of Trinidadian and Sri Lankan heritage and grew up in Maidstone, Kent. His father, Indra Dharmalingam was a radiographer, and his mother, Deoranee is a district nurse. He told Desi Blitz that acting wasn’t encouraged in his family. “But rather the obsession with academia and becoming a doctor or banker was.” GCSE Drama “was a pivotal time” for him as he “discovered a subject” that he began “to really enjoy and succeed in.” He then took A-Level Theatre Studies and completed a season with the National Youth Theatre, followed by a degree at the University of Salford in Performing Arts.
Very little is known about Dharmalingam’s personal life. He is married to a social worker and the couple has two kids.
A regular on theater and TV, he worked at the Royal National Theatre on the original London stage production of “The History Boys,” understudying the role of Dakin. Later he made his debut on Broadway in the same national production of “The History Boys” in the role of Crowther.
It was his theater background that helped him prepare for the role of Nik, he told the Blue Mountain Gazette. “It required me to dedicate everything I had to fulfill the complexity of the character,” he said. “I like to work to extremes and this gave me that opportunity.”
He told the Gazette, that getting the call from his agent for the role of Nik Kataria was “one of the best moments of my life.” He was “immediately drawn” to the script because he’s “always attracted to deeply layered and textured characters that require a detailed analysis of character.” He said there were “lots of similarities with my own trajectory through life so it had a deep resonance within me.” Dharmalingam was “fundamentally attracted” to the character, because “Nik’s journey is deeply complex.”
Shooting for “Wakefield” began in January 2020, scheduled to finish by May, but got delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The series was finally finished in September. “So you could say for nine months I held onto the character of Nik,” Dharmalingam told the Blue Mountain Gazette. He got a special dispensation from the Australian government to travel and work in Australia.
Dharmalingam first appeared on TV screens, in 2002, as a member of the cast of the drama series “Cutting It,” which was nominated for a BAFTA award. He made his BBC TV debut in “Casualty,” and “New Tricks.”
In theater, Dharmalingam continued to perform at the Royal Theater as Far in “Playing With Fire”; as Jai in “Rafta Rafta”: and as Benny and Naz in “England People Very Nice.” He played Tom in “Tom’s Midnight Garden,” which opened in 2004 at the Unicorn Theater. He also worked with the Headlong Theatre Company where he was seen in “The English Game.”