January 28th 1995
Georgie Parker gets hot under the collar about the making of her newest TV series.
Georgie Parker describes the making of her latest series, Fire, as “a nightmare”.
Working in steamy Queensland, wearing heavy fire-fighting gear all day and filming among real flames was an almost unbearable mix that drew Georgie and the other cast members close to breaking point.
“It was extraordinarily difficult,” she says. “The conditions affected everyone’s mood, There were a lot of tempers flaring, a lot of volatile situations.
“That was also because the story itself Is volatile. Life imitated art, but in a strange way the tension bonded us together.”
Georgie says that during the five-month shoot in Brisbane for the Seven Network’s new drama series, in which she stars as firefighter Morgan “Mad Dog” Cartwright. she asked herself many times why she had accepted such an exhausting job.
“I asked myself that just about every day,” she says. “I thought the shoot would never end.
“I’ve never felt heat like that. The only difference was when you stepped into one of the air-conditioned vehicles. It was like getting into a bed with crisp white sheets, and you just didn’t want to leave it.”
Because of the heat and the dangers of dehydration, nurses were on hand during filming to give cast members electrolyte solutions, vitamins and other supplements.
“We were sweating all day. It was vile,” Georgie says.
“It was the most unglamorous shoot I’ve done in my life. But that was part of the bonding again, because we were all the same – we all looked like s—!”
After hours, the cast didn’t socialise much. she adds.
“Because we were all hot and all bothered, we didn’t want to spend a lot of time together. But the crew were wonderful. They were very sensitive to how everyone was feeling, and they were so supportive,” she says.
Despite the difficult conditions, there were some lighter moments during filming, often prompted by Andy Anderson, who plays Repo.
“Whatever musical was on in Brisbane at the time, we’d be singing the songs on set,” Georgie says. “So we’d be in our fire turnout gear singing Jesus Christ Superstar!”
The series also features Peter Phelps, Debora-Lee Furness, Max Phipps, Shane Feeney-Connor, Liddy Clark, Wayne Pygram, Tayler Kane and Aaron Jeffery.
Fire, to premiere next month, is the story of Morgan Cartwright, the first female firefighter in Brisbane (there are none in real life).
Initially, Morgan has a tough time, firstly getting into the force and then being accepted as just another firefighter.
“The script deals with the sexism issue in the first episode, and then dismisses it altogether,” Georgie says.
“That pleased me, because the more that is made of this issue, the harder it is to break that stereotype.”
Fire doesn’t exaggerate the depth of feeling some members of the force have against women joining them on the job, Georgie says.
“They’re so proud of it being such a male-dominated industry. I say, think about all the things women can bring to the job rather than the things they can’t.
“Stingy old bastards! It’s like, when will this cease to be an issue?”
Georgie does, however, have a lot of praise for the job firefighters do and for the Queensland officers who were advisers on the Fire set.
“They were so helpful,” she says “They were on set every day, and they were there for us whenever we needed something.”
The main thing that has stopped more women becoming firefighters is the physical strength required for the job.
“It’s 90 per cent physical. The equipment is very heavy. You need two or three people to hold a hose,” Georgie says.
She was able to cope with the physical requirements during a two-week training course with the Queensland Fire Service thanks to her normal, rigorous routine.”
“I like to work out for two hours a day, seven days a week,” she says.
“I swim, run. I go to the gym and do weights and body toning. I do yoga and kickboxing. I’ve been a dancer since I was four, so I just love it.”
The triple TV Week Silver Logie Award winner is best remembered for her role as Lucy Gardiner in A Country Practice from 1989 to 1992.
She is currently starring as Sandy Spencer, with Nicholas Eadie, in Seven’s comedy series Over The Hill.
Story: Caron James
Pictures: Ray Messner
Original content copyright TV Week.