All Saints: articles

Shot in the arm for All Saints

Chris Vance and Allison Cratchley

ALL Saints star Allison Cratchley admits the Aussie medical drama does not have a lot in common with Seven stablemate Grey's Anatomy.

"They're both set in hospitals but our budget wouldn't pay for their morning tea," she says with a laugh. "And yet occasionally we've rated as well as them. We're so proud of that."

Regardless of ratings, All Saints has one significant edge on its glamous Hollywood counterpart.

While Grey's Anatomy is shooting its fourth season, All Saints is in its 10th year and, next month, it has a special reason to celebrate when its 400th episode goes to air.

It is a milestone executive producer John Holmes still finds difficult to comprehend.

"When we set the show up, we were thinking two or three years," he says.

That ambition was easily achieved, but Holmes admits the show had become stale two or three years ago.

"There was a sameness of stories," he says.

"We needed a kick up the a---."

He credits Cratchley, who plays caring doctor Zoe Gallagher, as part of "that kick".

Cratchley looks puzzled when Holmes' comments are passed on.

"Being told you're part of a kick in the a--- is a compliment, isn't it?" she says. Cratchley believes the revival of the show is not only about the actors.

"It's a domino effect," she says. "You get great scripts, you get great directors, you get great actors. Two years ago, actors didn't want a bar of this show, now they're tripping over each other to get on."

Holmes adds: "A big thing was moving the action from Ward 17 to the ER. Strong scripts re-energised the show, but we also got the balance right -- that balance of medical and personal storylines and also the balance of the new cast. We've got John Waters back for a long run, Tammy (MacIntosh) and Allison."

The other element that has helped freshen the show is, in Holmes' words, "the terror of the remote".

"We made a conscious effort to increase the pace of the show," he says. "In that first segment we rip through as much as we can. The idea is to hook the audience by the first commercial break."

All Saints faces a new challenge with Nine programming Mick Molloy's much-hyped The Nation against it. But Cratchley, who has been with the show for about nine months, is confident about All Saints' long-term future.

She says the cast is "an amazing ensemble" and finds the environment far friendlier than the set of Water Rats, where she had her first big on-going role as Emma Woods.

"I wasn't nutured on Water Rats," she says. " I was left standing alone. Being a new kid on the block was kind of painful and I don't want the younger cast of All Saints to feel that way."

By Garry Williams
June 11, 2007
Sunday Herald Sun