Despite his inexperience, Shortland Street’s newest nurse, Sage Stewart, finds himself working hard to save the life of one of Ferndale’s nearest and dearest in the unmissable Christmas cliffhanger.
Sage is played by 24-year-old Peter Burman, who is in the middle of filming the famously top-secret end-of-year episodes.
“Having never done any professional screen work before, it’s been a real trial by fire and Shorty is so fast, but I think I like it that way,” Burman tells Spy.
Producer Oliver Driver says it was hard to top last year’s Christmas cliffhanger when they burnt the hospital to the ground.
“Instead, we sail right past Christmas and, for the first time, do a New Year’s Eve cliff and, trust us, this is one countdown you will not want to miss,” says Driver.
“Your favourite characters ring in the new year in turmoil and tragedy, setting up a 2024 that will see friendships destroyed, hearts broken, the return of familiar faces and the arrival of a new bunch of characters that turn Shortland Street upside down.”
Burman graduated from NZ’s leading drama school, Toi Whakaari, two years ago, and since then he and his friends have created their own theatre production company called Resistant Productions.
“We’ve been making our own work - most notably She’s Crowning, which has toured all over Aotearoa, and we recently took the show to Melbourne in October,” says Burman.
Burman was born in Whangamatā but grew up in Tauranga, and at high school, his road to Ferndale seemed predetermined.
“I’m not sure if being on Shorty was always in my sight, but the spooky thing is, in my high school yearbook I was awarded most likely to appear on Shortland Street, so maybe the universe had a plan,” he says.
“My family were stoked when I told them I got the role and my mum cried, I think. They are just glad that I have a stable job and driving me to all my drama classes and shows when I was a kid has paid off.
“And how lucky for them that I can be in their living rooms every weeknight at 7pm.”
Burman is relishing being one of the new faces in Ferndale turning things upside down and describes nurse Sage as Shorty’s new ingénue.
“He’s a compulsive oversharer, leading to him feeling like he’s put his foot in his mouth.
“He’s naive and impulsive, prone to making big life decisions on a whim.
“Sage is not afraid to challenge his superiors and he wishes the system was a little more holistic – and he’s hoping he can change it.”