Blue Heelers: articles

Jane Allsop

Jane Allsop from Blue Heelers.

Live and laughing

As Blue Heelers prepares a special live show, Katrina Witham talks to Jane Allsop.

For Blue Heelers star Jane Allsop, the best part of her job is the laughter.

“I spend a huge portion of the day laughing really, the crew and cast are just so lovely it makes those long hours so much more enjoyable,” she says.

“It’s such great fun stuffing around between takes and, you know, chatting with crew and stuff and just having a good laugh.”

But, on Wednesday, the cast will not have much time for laughter as Blue Heelers broadcasts live.

As it is the show’s 10th year, producers wanted to mark the anniversary by being the first contemporary Australian series to go to air live.

While it has been done by overseas programs such as The Bill and E.R., this will be the first live drama in Australia for more than 40 years.

“To put the thing live to air in that one hour is going to be a massive job,” says Allsop.

“It’s certainly something that’s exciting to be involved in because it is such a ground-breaking thing.

“I hope we get it all right because there’s obviously huge potential for any one of the hundred people involved to make the slightest error and fumble everyone.”

A normal episode takes a day of intensive rehearsals followed by four days’ shooting.

For Blue Heelers Live, the shooting time will be only an hour and the sets will be spread across two large studios with nine cameras rather than the usual two.

“We shoot it as you see it,” says Allsop. “So I guess it is just going to be lots and lots of hours of the crew and cast rehearsing beforehand.

“There’s going to be a lot of running between sets and really fast wardrobe and make-up changes that we’re going to have to do on the run, so you just gotta hope everything goes right on the night.

“If we make a mistake we’ll just have to keep going and that applies to the crew as well.”

But after playing Constable Jo Parrish for the past five years, Allsop is looking forward to the challenge of going to air live.

While she enjoys her job and the stability of being a full-time cast member, she says she does have the desire to spread her wings further.

“There’s the absolutely wonderful aspect of stability which is very rare as an actor,” she says. “But the flipside of that is you find yourself really wanting other challenges.”

While Allsop will remain on Blue Heelers for a while to come, she hopes to take some time out soon to refocus her life. “I’m planning to take a little bit of a break just for me– for a bit of ‘me time’, “ she says.

“I came straight out of school, went straight to uni then straight into Blue Heelers and I feel I want a bit of chill time.”

During this “chill time” Allsop wants to have a holiday and finish the second draft of a film she has written.

She also hopes to do some stage work. Already she is dreading saying goodbye to the much-loved Australian drama.

“I’ve got a lot of memories of really good fun times and that is the big one that will make me sad when I go,” she says.

“And as I said, spending all that time laughing with people at work has been a highlight.”

Let’s just hope they don’t laugh too much in this week’s live episode.

• Blue Heelers, Channel 7, Wednesday, 8.30pm.

By Katrina Witham
April 15, 2004
The Courier Mail