All Saints: articles

Unsaintly habits

IT is late in the afternoon and Libby Tanner is delightfully loopy.

She interrupts our telephone conversation several times to yell out good wishes to those around her and speaks about the niceties of "working with mad people".

"About this time of day, about 4pm, the delirium sets in," Tanner says. "There's not much oxygen inside the studio and it's really good fun. It's cheap, too."

Tanner laughs hoarsely and often and speaks in an easygoing, knockabout manner.

In short, she seems a lot like her character.

She is also the first to admit that the well-loved TV fixture, uber-nurse Bronwyn Craig, is basically Libby Tanner with a dramatic lifestyle.

Tanner has been with All Saints from its 1998 beginning and says in that time she has infused Bron with her own personality.

"I really think it's essentially your energy that you bring to the character," she says. "You don't really work on a character for that long, you just say the words and they come out as you.

"Other actors would disagree with that but I believe in TV it is your personal energy because you can't put on a completely different character for that long."

Tanner won the Silver Logie for Most Popular Actress this year and says she is often approached by fans of Bron and her ex-partner, paramedic Ben (Brian Vriends).

"I seem to be telling a lot of people to take a deep breath and not to worry because their mother loves them," she says, laughing.

Fans of the All Saints love pairing have even set up an Internet club to discuss the couple's movements.

The Amorous Ambos club boasts more than 90 members, and while Tanner finds it "outrageous" she sends her love.

But unlike Amorous Ambos members, many viewers of the popular medical drama had all but written off the relationship between Sister Craig and ambo Ben Markham until recently.

At the start of this year they were blissfully engaged, having only admitted their love after a series of near-death incidents.

But before they wed, Bron embarked on a solo overseas trip and promptly had a fling with another man.

Tanner says although this was a despicable act, it demonstrates the qualities the viewers love about Bron.

"No one wants to watch someone who's perfect," Tanner says. "Everyone has the devil inside them—it's there whether they admit to it or not—and she's quite open and honest about her little devil and I think that's what they enjoy about her—her openness."

As for her unfortunate mistake, Tanner maintains Bron's overseas fling was purely accidental.

"She went to London and she met this really nice fellow who liked a drink, liked to gamble and liked to just have a laugh and, never thinking it was a long-term thing, she just had a 'whoops' moment. You know, like 'I've kissed you, oh whoops!' That's why people love Bron."

Later she had another "whoops" moment with Charlotte, her lesbian best friend.

But despite her actions, Tanner says Bron has never recovered from her broken engagement to Ben. As such she has been attacking her fellow nurse Paula Morgan (Jenni Baird) of late, whom Ben began dating soon after their break-up.

The plot development has seen Bron scream and generally lash out at Paula, which Tanner says she finds disturbing.

"One time (Bron) bailed her up in the tea room and went off and I thought, 'My God, you're just vile in this scene, you're just bloody vile'," Tanner says. "I said to Jenni: 'I've never played such a bitch.' We had to give each other a hug after each take. It was a bit full-on."

Tanner suspects this emotional rollercoaster was plotted by opportunistic All Saints writers. Her London holiday was an excuse to give the actor leave to give birth to her first baby, Edie, by her real-life partner Vriends.

When Tanner returned she was "on a tsunami of emotion and they kept writing these huge developments".

The latest twists have seen Ben confess that he still loves Bron and asking for her to be by his side as he recovers from a near-fatal stabbing.

Again their relationship has been re-ignited by near-death experiences.

"I reckon they secretly love it," Tanner says. "The blood. Very tragic. But now Paula's involved it's sure to get a bit messy, a bit juicy."

Also juicy is the recent gossip surrounding All Saints. Cast departures are said to be imminent and Tanner, Vriends and Erik Thomson are rumoured to be departing.

Tanner is unwilling to say much on the topic… "maybe yes, maybe no"… but if the rumours are true viewers could be in for a very different All Saints next year.

All Saints, Seven, Tuesday, 8.30pm.

By Jennifer Dudley
November 21, 2002
The Courier Mail