All Saints: articles

Wedding woes

THERE'S something so right about certain couples. And when they overcome many hurdles but still manage to connect and find true happiness, you feel they deserve every cherished moment together.

But on Australian television they're rarely given the chance to savour their wedded bliss.

Scripts focus heavily on the lead-up to the wedding but the happy couple often don't stay married—one of the pair dies or they divorce or they remain married but leave the show.

Neighbours characters Charlene and Scott went to Queensland. A Country Practice's Vicki and Simon moved to the US . Earlier this week, Secret Life of Us's Alex and Rex left for England, while on last night's McLeod's Daughters, Jodie (Rachael Carpani) has her magical wedding, only to realise that it's all a huge mistake.

And now All Saints' Dr Mitch Stevens (Erik Thomson) and nurse Terri Sullivan (Georgie Parker) will be torn apart soon after they're married in this week's episode.

It's a weird phenomenon. Can't we stand to see a happily married couple on TV? Is it just too boring?

In tongue-in-cheek fashion, media analyst Steve Allen says Australian shows might have the marriage formula right.

"You have this fantastic couple and within months of finally deciding to commit they're out of the show," he says.

"It seems script writers either find this a convenient way of writing out people, as if all life ceases when you are married or there's no tension left when people are happily married. It's a sad commentary on life.

"The current crop of US shows show a more resilient regard for coupling or marriage. Maybe the problem is they leave them (the married couple) in the script and the show dies, like The Practice. Maybe our shows have got it right."

On All Saints, the tension has been building since Mitch was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He and Terri have had their share of challenges and now it's the cruellest twist of fate that, just when they've got it together, their happiness is snatched away.

But as Georgie Parker, who plays Terri, says, Mitch's departure allows for an injection of fresh energy to the long-running drama.

Perhaps it's the reason television marriages are engineered to end badly or disappear.

Parker says losing Mitch is traumatic for everyone involved.

"It's very upsetting," she says. "It's a combination of that kind of illness that sneaks up on you and all of a sudden their life is gone. The shock of it all is profound.

"It's traumatic when the audience knows him so well and he has finally reached a happy stage of his life."

The coming episodes of All Saints are emotional, leaving the audience, like the cast and crew, exhausted.

"A lot of people don't like to feel that much," Parker says.

A woman in a cafe recently asked her about Mitch.

"She said, 'I don't know if I can cope if it gets much worse—does it?' And I said, 'Yeah, it does—he dies'," Parker says.

She agrees a television death makes for more interesting and challenging drama. "You know it can be cathartic to watch something like that," she says.

And Mitch's departure is an "amazing change".

"It's really sad for the audience and it's sad for us because we really miss Erik. He's a great person to work with and hang out with," Parker says.

"But on another level it gives us an opportunity. With his absence we have to explore something else.

"There are some major cast changes taking shape and it's always stimulating for any long-running show to have an injection of fresh talent."

But with four years invested in their relationship, Parker says it's important to consider the loss before moving on.

"We can't jeopardise that character by bringing someone else in. They were the love of each other's lives, soul mates meant to be together.

"But the audience needs to know that her life will go on. I don't know when and I don't know who, but I think I can safely say she will eventually find love again. But there's only one first love.

"It will be challenging for my character because the person who defined her in so many ways isn't there any more." All Saints, Tuesday, Seven, 8.30pm

By Kate Minogue
March 20, 2003
The Daily Telegraph