Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Plenty of glitches as McLeod girl gets hitched

IT WOULDN'T be a TV wedding if there wasn't a hitch but the makers of McLeod's Daughters had more than their share while filming Jodi and Alberto's big day.

The wedding, timed to mark the show's 50th episode, comes at a turbulent time for the young lovers. They have both committed indiscretions and Jodi recently lost her engagement ring down the kitchen sink.

On the big day the problems continue with an electrical storm knocking out power, fallen lines blocking the roads and escaped sheep causing mayhem.

Off screen, the cast and crew faced a dust storm, 100kmh winds and 40C heat that later dipped to just 18C. The storm caused some scenes to be repeated, the wedding service had to move from the veranda to the dining room and Rachel Carpani, who plays Jodi, lost her contact lenses.

"She was spectacularly beautiful and unlike most brides, she walked around in her dress for 11 days, around a farm, covered in bruises," said executive producer Susan Bower.

Bower, who was script producer before taking over as EP recently, said like all episodes of McLeod's, the wedding was filmed in tandem with another episode. That was last week's hen's night, meaning Carpani was in almost every scene.

"We wanted to do Rachel proud, she is one of the most wonderful people to work with, a true professional who never complains," said Bower.

"Over her incredible emotional journey she had to be happy, puzzled, broken-hearted, and out of sequence.

"I dare anyone not to cry, we were in buckets."

Bower said they wanted to do something different to the usual TV wedding, so interviewed many young women about their rural wedding experiences. The crew also wore wedding attire and had a wedding breakfast and speeches.

McLeod's Daughters was recently given the green light for a fourth series, which should begin shooting in August. It's some goods news for fans after being alarmed to learn Lisa Chappell, who plays headstrong Claire McLeod, is leaving at the end of this season.

"I think it's very sad she wants to leave us, she has been and still is such a wonderful character and has generated a lot of stories," said Bower.

"But in series TV people watch the show. They have their favourites, people they love to love and people they love to hate. The show continues.

"She's still here the whole year with some clever and wonderful stories. Viewers will not be cheated and she will not do anything that's not in her character.

"We will have a new character joining us who is very exciting and will instill a boost of energy, she will be introduced at the end of season three."

Bower has worked on McLeod's Daughters from the beginning and helped pitch the idea to Nine with creator/producer Posie Graeme-Evans, who is now Nine's head of drama. It's clearly a show she feels passionate about.

"I'm very hands on. It's wonderful to be called executive producer but it's more a creative producer role. It's Posie's baby and I am the guardian angel of it.

"I'm more an executive producer from a script/creative side, I need to look at everything from the germ of an idea to the colour of everyone's lipstick. It's a dream job."

Last year, McLeod's was Australia's third most watched local drama and is also a hit in countries from England and India to Holland and South Africa.

Yet there are those who claim the stories couldn't possibly happen. Bower said people levelled similar accusations when it started at All Saints, the show she worked on before McLeod's.

"People get their own ideas of how they want things to be done and to be," she said.

"We don't go out to offend. Every story has come from a vet, a farmer, people who work on the land. People's experiences are an individual thing and they see things in different ways."

Bower said researcher Nikki Freeman read rural magazines and was constantly on the phone checking out ideas. The show also held regular lunches with rural women to stay in touch and topical.

A nurse by training, Bower started her television career as a researcher on the beloved rural drama, A Country Practice. She describes her move into TV as "a funny and sad story".

After the birth of her first child, Bower wasn't working but someone she knew was working on ACP before it went to air. She would often get calls for advice and dialogue and ended up becoming the show's researcher. Her then husband became one of the show's scriptwriters.

Later Bower continued nursing, did more study and ran a baby health centre. But after she found herself divorced with two children, nursing couldn't support them.

"I rang around and got the ACP job back, which was twice as much money, so I moved the kids and dog to Sydney."

Bower became a trainee script editor and the rest is history. She misses nursing but loves TV.

"It's a wonderful vocation but this is magic, working with experienced and hard working people. In fact, it is like nursing in a lot of ways because the team has to trust each other."

• McLeod's Daughters, Nine/WIN, tonight, 7.30

By Sue Yeap
March 19, 2003
The West Australian