Mcleod's Daughters: articles

McLeod's loses a daughter

Lisa Chappell is hanging up Claire’s Akubra for good. How will Drovers Run survive?

Yes, it’s true. Lisa Chappell is quitting McLeod’s Daughters, leaving just one of the two McLeod sisters at Drovers Run.

“It was a big decision,” says Lisa, who plays Claire. “It took a long time to make, actually. Months and months. But I did. It’s time to move on.”

Lisa will continue filming until the third season of the rural drama series wraps in June. That means she will be seen on screen until the end of the year.

“I really love the character and I love the show,” she says, “but it will have been two-and-a-half years by the time I finish. That’s a long time to play one character, particularly a character so different from yourself.”

So how will the series continue without Claire, the older McLeod sister and manager of Drovers Run?

“It’s not Magnum, PI”, Lisa says. “IF Magnum, PI left, that would be a problem. This is an ensemble cast—and it’s an incredibly talented one.”

McLeod’s Daughters creator Posie Graeme-Evans—the newly appointed director of drama at the Nine Network—is in total agreement.

“The core of the series is about a bunch of women who run a cattle station,” she explains.

“For me, the McLeod daughters, the two sisters, are of course extremely important. But I promise you that there’s a very nice twist to all of this, which I think the audience will enjoy. But my premise hasn’t changed—and that is a bunch of women running a cattle station.”

Posie believes a TV series must have a life beyond any one character, no matter how important that character is.

“I can remember years ago, when Molly (played by Anne Tenney, now in Always Greener) died in A Country Practice,” she recalls. “Everyone said, ‘Oh, that’s it for A Country Practice.’ We all loved Molly, and I cried buckets when she died, but the series has a life.”

Lisa has talked about leaving McLeod’s Daughters since last year, so the writers have had plenty of time to work her departure into the storylines. There won’t be any sudden disappearance, with other characters left to explain that Claire has moved interstate, as has happened in other shows.

“What’s in front of viewers is the most wonderful ride,” Posie says. “There are so many twists, and we’re going to honour that character when she leaves in a way that I think the audience will adore.

“Its is important for the audience to understand that this is so sad. We are truly sad that Lisa feels she needs to move on, but we’re all confident that the show’s got years of life to go.”

She reveals that another character will be brought into the mix.

“There are some interesting and very juicy roles coming up, which I think will just give us another layer,” Posie says.

Lisa promises that all the questions will viewers have asked her about Claire—who she will end up with, whether she will have the baby—will be answered before she leaves. Claire may even finally find love!

“Claire has had a pretty hard trot,” she says. “But there are some really good times coming up, as well as more challenges. You’re not going to be left disappointed.”

And what of Lisa herself? The New Zealand-born actress moved from Sydney to Adelaide to work on McLeod’s Daughters, and she will head back there when she hangs up Claire’s Akubra.

“New Zealand will always be home, but you go where the work is when you’re an actor,” she says.

Lisa, who won a TV WEEK Logie last year as Most Popular New Female Talent, is looking for a new “creative challenge”—whether that be in TV, film or theatre.

“I’m open to any story that moves me and I feel passionate about,” she says.

As for Lisa’s rumoured singing career, she has been writing songs but is not ready to talk about it yet.

“I’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of me, so I’m going to deal with one thing at a time,” she explains.

“Claire’s journey already has been so rich and incredibly adventurous—now it’s going on even more of a ride. I’ve got my hands full over the next few months.”

By Helen Vnuk
TV Week