April 8th 2006
The much-loved Tom Croydon faces a health crisis in this landmark episode.
The milestone 500th episode of one of Australia’s best-loved drama series, Blue Heelers, hits our screens this week. And what an unforgettable episode it is!
Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon (John Wood) – well regarded as the face of Mount Thomas – is nearly seriously ill. And Tom will receive some shocking news in coming weeks. Is he dying?
When the 500th episode begins, we realise that the pressure of the past couple of years has taken its toll on Tom, whose beloved wife, Grace (Debra Lawrence), was brutally raped and murdered in 2004.
Now, we see that Tom is obviously unwell – and refusing to see a doctor.
“Tom starts having reoccurring nightmares about his childhood,” John says. “He’s been so closed since his wife died.
“He’s also a typical male who thinks, ‘you don’t go to the doctor until you’re absolutely dying,’ and then, of course, it’s too late. He’s had so much happen to him in the last couple of years that he pushes that side of things into the background.”
Meanwhile, Tom’s colleague, Detective Amy Fox (Rachel Gordon), can see that Tom is in serious trouble. And she has a huge battle trying to convince Tom that he must seek help.
“Amy thinks of Tom as a bit of a father-figure,” explains Rachel. “She tries to protect him and care for him as much as she can.”
Rachel says it was “a privilege” to work with John for this storyline.
“He does some fantastic work in this 500th episode,” she enthuses.
As for John, he admits he found the episode confronting to film.
“It’s funny playing someone with a potentially fatal illness,” he says. “You don’t like the idea of doing it ’cause you might be dicing with death yourself – tempting the gods.”
Heelers past and present talk fondly about their fave show
One of the most popular cast members, Lisa built up a huge following as Mount Thomas sweetheart Maggie Doyle.
“Blue Heelers was such a great show to do because you did get to do everything,” she says. “You got to do the emotional stuff, you got to do the action, you got to do some really heavy storylines as well. And as a young actor, working with some of the country’s finest actors – what a great learning ground!
“I just hope that we continue to make these programs, as lot of really fine actors learn the ropes there.”
Along with John Wood, Julie was the only remaining original cast member of Blue Heelers by the time the show filmed its 500th episode. And there’s no question that her alter ego, publican Chris Reilly – described by many as “the heart and soul of Mount Thomas” – has been an essential part of Blue Heelers from day one.
“The show’s been like this gift from heaven,” says Julie, a real-life mother-of-two. “A show like Heelers is like the foundation of any healthy film and television industry. It’s an Australian show that Australians took to heart.”
Original content copyright TV Week.