Matt Okine reimagined Mother and Son to understand what it felt like to be a grown-up with a mum

Matt Okine Denise Scott Mother and Son

Matt Okine: “I wonder what my life would be like if my mum was still alive”

Actor and comedian Matt Okine is starring in a reimagining of Mother and Son alongside comedic icon Denise Scott. And while there are many reasons to reboot such an iconic TV show, Okine had a more poignant motivation — and it was all to do with the loss of his mum Roslyn to breast cancer at the age of 12.

“Part of the appeal for me of wanting to make Mother and Son was really just me going, ‘I wonder what my life would be like if my mum was still alive’,” he said during an interview with Mediaweek and Chattr’s The Entertainment Hotline podcast.

Okine, who is of Ghanaian and European descent, also said that “because she [Roslyn] was white”, he was “not familiar with what that relationship would actually be like as a grown person”. During the initial stages of the series, original creator Geoffrey Atherden sat with the 38-year-old to talk about the script. 

“He said — and he was always really helpful with things like this — he’d say, ‘You know, just remember that these two really love each other. The true essence of this show is about a mother and son that love each other.'”

He continued: “Then we got into the conversation of the physicality between each other and touching and hugging. [We (Scott and Okine)] were having to have these conversations about like, ‘Well, would I hug you?’ Because I don’t know what that physical relationship is actually like as a grown-up with a mum…It seems like a really simple thing that you should probably know.”

Denise Scott and Matt Okine. ABC

Matt Okine on working with Denise Scott

Luckily, Okine and Scott’s relationship already had firm foundations, given that he had decided to recreate the show with her in mind, after going on tour together.

“I remember thinking, ‘I just wish that there was a show that we could be on together,'” he said. “I remember we were getting out of a car and the idea of being in Mother and Son came to me. I must have just thought, ‘If my mother was alive, she would be someone like Denise right now.'”

Almost seven years later, Okine then sat down with Wooden Horse, whose “eyes lit up”.

Matt Okine and Denise Scott.


“It’s exciting that things can actually happen when you work with people who make them happen,” he said. 

Even though a large part of doing the job was because he “loved working” with Scott, there was another “selfish” cause for their on-screen union.

“I think part of the reason, selfishly, was that this is the only way that I’d be able to get Denise Scott as my mum ever in real life,” he admitted. “And I probably just wanted that. I probably want that in general.”

Recently it was revealed that Scott had been diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of weeks prior to filming; however, Okine said that her “energy” on set was infectious.

“She’s just so funny and the energy that she brought to the show, to the set and to the production, everyone just fell in love with her and we just wanted to be around her. She gave so much of herself for the role.”

Matt Okine on the “presence” of Ruth Cracknell

The original series, which ran from 1984 to 1994, starred Gold Logie winners Garry McDonald and Ruth Cracknell as Arthur and Maggie, who, just like the reboot, lived together after the breakdown of Arthur’s marriage.

While McDonald is living his life out of the spotlight, Cracknell passed away in 2002 with Okine revealing her presence was very much felt during filming.

Mother and Son ABC original

Garry McDonald and Ruth Cracknell. ABC

“The presence of Ruth was always there with us,” he revealed. “We’d always make jokes about it. I remember very early on when we were filming, we all got into a van to go back from set to the unit base and there was a makeup artist in the truck with me and Denise.”

He continued: “There was one empty seat in the van, but then suddenly, the seatbelt light started dinging, ‘ding ding’ as if there’s someone sitting in the middle and Denise immediately was like, ‘Oh, great. The ghost of Ruth Cracknell is here making sure that we’re doing a good enough job.

“We all know that the pressure is on but that’s what makes it exciting.”

Mother and Son premieres on Wednesday, August 23 at 8.30 pm on ABC TV and ABC iview

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