All Saints: articles

Saints of the West

All Saints might be renamed A Westside Story if any more Sandgropers join the cast of Seven’s medical drama. Mark Priestley is the latest West Australian actor to join the cast that includes fellow Perth’s Tammy MacIntosh, Paul Tassone and Natalie Saleeba.

Priestley, a NIDA graduate who played Curley in ABC’s prisoner of war series, Changi, joins All Saints as emergency department nurse Dan Goldman.

“He’s genuinely a nice guy, he’s a flirt,” Priestley said of his new character. “They wanted to get a younger guy, and girls, into the mix.”

Like most Australian dramas this year, All Saints has had a makeover to try to appeal to a bigger audience. All Saints is now an emergency ward with an abrasive new chief, Frank Campion (John Howard). Priestley said he was seeking a regular television role to boost his profile after miniseries Changi and The Farm plus a role in Blurred, an Australian movie about schoolies week. He recalled a disastrous incident on the set of The Farm when he and a fellow cast member were practising with a cricket bat and ball because the script said their characters were cricketers. Priestley struck the ball sweetly but The Farm’s director Kate Woods wasn’t aware she was playing too and the ball hit her on the head.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew exactly where it was going. It knocked her out cold,” Priestley said ruefully. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s it, I am never going to work again.’”

The WWII prison camp drama, Changi, was the highlight of Priestley’s career—especially meeting real-life former Australian POWs and hearing their stories. “Changi was the best experience I have had in my professional life. It made me think about what that generation did for us,” he said.

Tassone has played the thoughtful and diplomatic Nelson Curtis in All Saints since 2001. Tassone said his career path has been one of persistence, working in Perth video stores, then later as a cinema projectionist in Sydney while pursuing a career in acting. He completed a degree in theatre and drama at Murdoch University and UWA before landing a role in the short-lived ABC series, Sweat.

“I sort of regret not going to acting school because you have the chance to try a lot of different sorts of acting,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I haven’t done, because I haven’t gone to acting school, that I would like to explore. But I know good actors come out whether they go to acting school or they don’t.

“Every day I have to try to make it work. You are working with actors who have been doing it for years and know their stuff.”

His gig on All Saints was the first time he had had his weekends to himself since he was 14. “It was heaven. I couldn’t believe this is what weekends were made for,” he said.

Saleeba, who plays nurse Jessica Singleton, was already acting while studying at Warwick High School, which also produced Alias and Home and Away star Melissa George.

She worked on feature film Under the Lighthouse Dancing at the same time as her TEE exams, taking a three-hour test in the morning, catching the ferry to Rottnest to work on the movie in the afternoon, then catching the ferry back to the mainland for the next exam.

Saleeba has appeared in The Secret Life of Us, Stingers, CNNNN and Always Greener. She also worked on Sweat alongside Tassone.

Last but certainly not least is Tammy MacIntosh, who plays lesbian doctor Charlotte Beaumont. At the photo shoot for Today, MacIntosh revealed that she got her television break on 80s Australian children’s show C’Mon Kids.

Just for a laugh, the rest of the WA posse treated MacIntosh to a rendition of the show’s dated theme song at the photo shoot.

Hey, show some respect! MacIntosh’s list of credits includes Australian favourites The Flying Doctors, Police Rescue, Wildside and McLeod’s Daughters.

By Andrew Gregory
July 19, 2004
The West Australian