TV Week
November 15th 1986

It’s a life and death situation as The Flying Doctors wind up for 1986

A FATAL plane crash stuns the township of Coopers Crossing in this year’s end of season episode of The Flying Doctors

Writers, cast and crew of the popular Nine Network show have worked overtime to produce a cliffhanger.

Three of the regular cast are on board the plane that crashes and paves the way for several cast changes next year.

Lewis Fitz-Gerald, (pilot David Gibson), has left the series after appearing in 25 of the 26 episodes.

“I think without a doubt it’s the best episode we’ve done all year,” Lewis says.

The scenario develops when Emma Plimpton, played by Rebecca Gibney, enters the Queen of the Outback contest.

Emma’s friends and supporters travel from Coopers Crossing to Windoona in a hired aircraft.

After a night of revelry their pilot is too hung-over to fly home, so David Gibson steps in.

Happiness turns to tragedy as the people of Coopers Crossing hear of the crash and anxiously await news.

“The episode is a lot more dramatic, I think, because it centres around the main cast rather than guest characters,” Lewis says.

“We worked hard with our pilot who advises me on the show.

“The whole crash sequence is within a hair’s breadth of reality.”

Others on board the ill-fated plane are Dr Chris Randall, played by Liz Burch, George Baxter (Bruce Barry) and the hung-over pilot Ted Wills (Robin Dene).

The Flying Doctors will go back into production early next year with some big cast changes.

Neighbours heart-throb Peter O’Brien has announced he will join the show as pilot Sam Patterson, and the character is likely to become romantically involved with Emma.

Gil Tucker, who plays the RFDS base radio operator Joe Forrest, has opted out of the series, as have John Frawley (Dr Turner), Carmel Millhouse (Matron Fischer), and Kylie Belling (Sharon Herbert).

The regulars who will return include Robert Grubb, Liz Burch, Bruce Barry, Lenore Smith, Rebecca Gibney, Val Jelly and Max Cullen.

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