All Saints: articles

Playing doctors and nurses

GEORGIE Parker's voice rises. Her answer is a resounding no. All Saints' nurse Terri Sullivan resembles neither a scarlet woman nor a homewrecker, Parker asserts. She is simply a victim of difficult circumstances.

"I think most of the viewers are fairly intelligent and if a marriage isn't working it's not because an ex-nun is hanging around," Parker insists. "I don't think anything she has done makes her a scarlet woman."

Moral questions aside, the relationship between Parker's nursing unit manager Terri Sullivan and Erik Thomson's Dr Mitch Stevens has certainly captivated a large section of the Australian television audience.

Ever since Mitch entered the show after 45 episodes, there has been an unmistakable sexual tension between the pair.

This was initially problematic as Terri was a nun. When Mitch finally had enough and decided to move on, becoming engaged to another woman, Terri began to have doubts about her commitment to the church.

She left her order about the same time Mitch said "I do" to his new bride, Rose.

Next came problems with Rose's mental health. "Firstly, she went off her medication and left her child alone and then she attempted suicide," Thomson summarises.

She also began scheming behind her husband's back and acting out mind games, jealous of Terri's relationship with Mitch.

Her resulting stay in a mental health institution paved the way for Mitch and Terri to get together, delighting fans.

So after three years of sexual tension, three months away from Rose, and a romantic declaration from Terri, Mitch has finally pledged to leave his wife for his colleague.

It's been a good run for Thomson, who scored the role of Mitch through a producer he worked with on the ill-fated Nine soap Pacific Drive.

Thomson says his character has certainly achieved what the writers hoped: "To shake things up a bit".

"Things were a little bit comfortable so we needed to drop a big rock into the pool and create that drama, that friction," he says.

"Also, because Terri was a nun, there had to be a history with this man just to sexualise her character and make the audience aware of her life before she was a nun and to set off the unrequited sexual relationship."

That sexual tension has become a calling card for the show–something the show's producers have exploited on a weekly basis.

But Thomson says the time to consummate the relationship is nigh.

"I don't think viewers would go through another year of it without losing interest all together," he says.

Parker agrees, saying that letting the tension continue would be riskier than seeing the two together at last.

"I think there's more drama to be played out once they're together," she says.

There are still barriers to the All Saints pairing though. Mitch is still married to Rose, even though the relationship has broken down.

Thomson says he is aware of the moral conflict, but claims his character "made up his mind a long time ago that his marriage doesn't have a future".

"People will have opinions but as long as they're talking about it, we'll be happy," Thomson says. "We've played it very safe. I think everyone will understand that none of us are being vindictive at all.

"There are no lies involved. There's withholding of information from Rose, but things are very cool between Rose and Mitch and there's no communication at all. There's nothing there other than a piece of paper and the fact they have a daughter."

Parker goes further. She says the marriage was "fundamentally flawed from the beginning" and a romantic relationship between Mitch and Terri was inevitable.

Many viewers would agree, especially those that Thomson encounters.

"I'll be walking along the street with my real wife and people will yell, 'We hate your wife!' or 'Why did you marry her? She's mad!' That can be quite disturbing," he says.

But Thomson says Mitch is going to have more to deal with than just his relationship with Nurse Sullivan this year.

Mitch also begins to further himself professionally, Thomson says.

"This year he realises that he's always been cruising along (at work) and he decides to undertake something which is really controversial and cutting edge and it becomes his mission, so there's a lot of things going on," he says.

"It's like he's shed his skin and he begins to see himself and feel good about himself."

When it comes to real-life medical emergencies, Thomson would not recommend any of the All Saints cast.

He comes from a medical background–his father is a retired doctor, his mother a retired nurse–but he still resorts to learning the "big medical jargony stuff" phonetically.

As Parker says: "I certainly wouldn't do anything medical, just as I wouldn't rely on a medical professional to recite a sonnet."

• All Saints, Seven, Tuesday, 8.30pm.

Jennifer Dudley
March 14, 2002
The Courier Mail