Riptide's Jo Joyner: 'The audience will know who they shouldn't trust!'

Alison Weston (Jo Joyner) and her husband Sean (Peter O'Brien) are in their sleek modern kitchen, he is kissing her neck and she is grinning happily
(Image credit: Channel 5/Fremantle)

Jo Joyner plays a woman whose idyllic life in the suburbs of Melbourne is dealt a devastating blow in the nail-biting four-part thriller Riptide. 

Jo plays Alison Weston, who lives in a stunning beachfront house with her second husband Sean (Neighbours star Peter O'Brien) and Hannah, her daughter from her first marriage. One fateful morning, Sean fails to return from surfing, and after a search of the local coast fails to locate him, the police conclude that he must have drowned in a dangerous riptide. 

Devastated by the loss of her husband, Alison soon begins to suspect that the story around Sean's disappearance doesn't fully add-up — but will she find out what really happened to him?

We caught up with Jo to find out all about her latest role...

Jo Joyner Riptide interview

How would you describe Alison?

"Alison is more creative, and sort of artistic and hippy-like than the people I've played in the past. It made me realise I've played a lot of women who've got careers, or who are professional and are juggling life and their career, and actually Alison is now in the second phase of her life. She has a job, she's married for the second time, and she's reached a real peace within herself. Her daughter is grown-up — well, teenage, so still hard work but the frantic early years are kind of over, so when we meet Alison, she's a calm, happy, chill person. Like all good thrillers, she's in a really good place before it all goes wrong!"

Sean (Peter O'Brien) out in the ocean, lying on his surfboard, wearing a wetsuit

The alarm is raised after Sean (Peter O'Brien) fails to return from surfing (Image credit: Channel 5/Fremantle)

What was it about filming in Australia that appealed to you?

"Hahaha, good question! It's so funny, I'm going to sound like one of those big manifesters, but every New Year we talk about what we want to do as a family in the future. Last year, I had been really specific, which is unlike me, and I'd said I wanted to be in Harlan Coben's next thriller, and then lo and behold I was. This year's New Year's resolution was that I wanted to travel with work a bit more, because I'd filmed so close to home a lot and my kids were in secondary school, and I felt like everyone could handle me being missing a bit more, and all I've done this year is film abroad!"

Peter O'Brien and Jo Joyner as newlyweds Sean and Alison Weston.

Sean (Peter O'Brien) and Alison (Jo Joyner) enjoy a happy family dinner before his unexpected disappearance (Image credit: Channel 5/Fremantle)

Alison's stepson accuses her of being a gold-digger — what was your impression of her when you first read the script, did you wonder if there was more to her than we were initially seeing?

"I was on her side from the get-go, definitely. It's a really fine line, isn't it, because you have to kind of drop seeds of doubt constantly in thrillers so that nobody is too easily forgiven, or not suspected, but it was very clear from the writers and the director when we first chattered that she was absolutely just with her happy place — she found a much more mature, calm man who knew his own mind, rather than her first husband. 

"The kind of guy she was with when she was 17 was not the sort of guy she was supposed to grow old with, you know? He couldn't quite mature himself in time, it was just bad timing with the two of them. So no, I didn't doubt her motives at all, it was all set out for me to know."

Ethan (Ben Turland) and Jesse (Benjamin Samaddar) stand in the kitchen of Alison and Sean's home. Jesse has his hand on the small of Ethan's back. They are talking to Hannah (Asher Yasbincek), who is in the foreground with her back to the camera, slightly out of focus

Alison's stepson Ethan (Ben Turland) is suspicious of her reasons for marrying his father (Image credit: Channel 5/Fremantle)

What's Alison's relationship with her teenage daughter like?

"It was really lovely, because Asher [Yasbincek] who plays my daughter Hannah, she's quite new — she's just done the Netflix Heartbreak High, and when we were filming that hadn't come out yet, so she wasn't really aware of what was about to. hit, and what a lovely year she was having, because she's just so young! 

"It was nice to do that shift of relationship that you get with older children, whereby the mothering, at some point, should tragedy hit, the roles reverse slightly and there's a point where, despite all the bickering, she starts to sort of look after her mum. Ultimately they're closer than ever, and they will come through for each other, which is a lovely journey of mother-daughter relationships. Asher was really lovely to work with — she's a great actress and she's got a really bright future."

Asher Yasbincek as Hannah in Riptide, standing in front of a large window with a look of alarm on her face

Heartbreak High's Asher Yasbincek plays Alison's daughter Hannah (Image credit: Fremantle/Channel 5)

What sets Riptide apart from other thrillers?

"One thing I think is unusual is that you don't spend all four episodes wondering who did what, and who to look out for. You spend a good amount of time wondering, being suspicious of everybody, but at a certain point the audience hold a lot of the cards, and I think that has its own thrill towards the end of the show because they know who is in jeopardy and who isn't. At a certain point, the audience will know who they shouldn't trust, and then that becomes even more suspense-filled, I suppose, because they're watching plenty of people possibly become victims or not!"

The cast of Riptide assembled on a grassy clifftop with the ocean behind them, with Alison (Jo Joyner) in the centre

Who in Riptide is hiding a secret? (Image credit: Fremantle/Channel 5)

Did you enjoy filming in Melbourne?

"What was really lucky for me was that it was over the summer holidays, so it meant my family could all come out and join me in the middle. My husband has family in Perth and Melbourne, we hadn't seen some of them for eight years, so it presented not only the chance to work in this incredible scenery with these fabulous people, but I got to take the family and have a big reunion as well.

"It was stunning where we filmed, and I completely fell in love with Melbourne. I've been to Perth before, but I've not been anywhere else in Australia, and Melbourne — just the people, the food, the culture, the art, the buildings, honestly, I've got a real special place for it in my heart now."

  • Riptide runs from Tuesday December 27 to Friday December 30 at 9pm on Channel 5 in the UK
Steven Perkins
Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com (opens in new tab), who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.