NINA'S sister Billie takes a front row seat in the new season of Offspring.
Following the tragic and unexpected death of Nina's partner Patrick at the end of last season, which shocked fans and sparked a social media storm, Nina (Asher Keddie) is struggling with being a new parent, while dealing with her grief.
The new, fifth season, which debuted last night to more than 1.17 million viewers, picks up six months after Patrick's death. Billie has moved in with Nina to help her raise her daughter Zoe.
"I, too, sort of thought, well, where do we go after that?" Kat Stewart, who plays Billie, told The Guide.
"It's such a huge thing in the show but I think they've done an amazing job, the writers, in how we come back six months later and Nina's about to have her first day back at work."
Stewart describes Billie's role as a pseudo second parent as "co-parenting".
"They're living together and it has given Billie this new focus," she said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for her to have a baby in her life. The sense you get through this series is that it's not about who gave birth to the baby. Family comes in all sorts of shapes and forms and she feels like it's their little girl, not just Nina's. It has given her a reason to dust herself off and sort herself out. She was in a bit of a pit of despair at the end of the last series."
Billie is undergoing a self-imposed bout of celibacy as she waits for her estranged husband Mick to return from the UK.
"He's on tour but they're still very much in contact," she said.
"They've got a deal that she's not allowed to Skype him, so she's giving him text updates all the time. They're probably too often and in too much detail, but she's absolutely galvanised and dedicated that she's going to win him back."
Fans will also see how Patrick's death has affected Nina's friends and family.
"You'll find Clegg (Lachy Hulme) has been profoundly affected. Even Phillip Noonan (Nina's biological father) has been affected," Stewart said.
"When you lose someone precious, who you don't expect to lose, it puts life into a different kind of perspective. All of these characters have made bold decisions and have chosen to live differently and seize the day in different ways."
But fans of actor Matthew Le Nevez, who plays Patrick, are happy to see him in some of Nina's trademark daydreaming scenes.
"He's very much still alive in Nina's heart and mind," Stewart said.
Speaking to The Guide at the Logies, where Keddie won two Silver Logies for Most Outstanding and Most Popular Actress, Le Nevez said he enjoyed returning to the Offspring set.
"We have a nice relationship between Asher and myself," he said.
"Those scenes are intimate and delicate and I think they're really special. "It was a really interesting experience to shoot it again and come back after (Patrick's death) last year."
Offspring - Ten - Wednesdays at 8.30pm
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