12th May 1990
So Toni and Harley will be turning up the heat on E Street.
PUPPY love is a sweet, innocent favourite with viewers. But unleash a dose of raw animal attraction into the romance and not only will the TV sets steam up, the ratings will soar.
It worked for Number 96 in the Seventies, and now another Network Ten serial looks like succeeding with the formula.
E Street hasn’t been coy in its treatment of human relationships. A recent episode featured Sonny (Richard Huggett) and a topless blonde engaged in some amorous midnight exploration, and now Toni (Toni Pearen) and Harley (Malcolm Kennard) are about to discover that there is more to the birds and the bees than necking in the back seat of Reverend Bob’s convertible.
“What we are trying to do is make the show as identifiable as possible,” says executive producer Forrest Redlich. “We’ve had no trouble with the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal at all, because what we’ve done has been within the context of the story.
“I think, seriously, that a bit of good ol’ sex is much more favorable a thing to be putting on screen at 7.30 pm than violence.”’
The on-again, off-again romance between Harley and Toni is on the verge of taking the big step, and, according to the two actors concerned, it’s about time.
“Harley has a lot of patience,”’ says Malcolm Kennard.
“He has a lot more than I would have, and I think more than most guys would. I mean, how long can Harley go? If it was a real-life relationship, it would have gone a lot further by now.”
Toni adds: ‘‘They really do love each other. Toni is a very old teenager. She really thinks things out, whereas Harley is so immature and illogical in his thinking. Still, they are meant for each other.
“I know, myself, how I would feel in the same situation. I’d consider how I felt about the guy and how responsible he is. I can be as foolish as the next person but basically I have a clear outlook on life.”
Malcolm, 22, and Toni, 18, are not averse to airing their opinions on the subject of sexuality.
“Sex is such a tender subject,” says Malcolm. “Your emotions are so deeply involved. I’d say most teenagers would have started to establish their own morals by the time they are 18.
“Before that they are just reacting to the circumstances of the situation. From 18 to 25, 1 think, you consolidate those morals.
“Harley is reacting all the time. What he, deep down, wants to do is … boom!”
“You know what I mean. When he met Toni he was after one thing. Now he has been forced to think about people other than himself and her. And by doing so, he’s lost some of his honesty.
“The fact is, he is sexually attracted to this girl and he is about to admit it. The cliche is he puts the hard word on her — at last,” Malcolm adds with a smile
Four years younger than Malcolm, Toni is a little more subtle about the subject.
“All my life I’ve been to Catholic schools. My friends and I have pretty high expectations of ourelves, morally. We’ve never been the type to lower our standards and I’m glad.
“Sure there were people at school who would grab anything they could that night. I always thought that, if that’s the way they want to be, then fine, be that way we were regarded as young for our years. Most of us were still virgins in Year 12.
“But I’m more level-headed. If I was in a relationship now, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask the guy to have an AIDS test. You may think that’s too cautions, but you’ve got to be careful. Even if you know he does you, it’s not worth the risk.”
And with the imminent turn in their on-screen relationship, Toni is steeling herself for the gossip that will inevitably follow.
“Harley and Toni are going to have the sort of relationship that people expect to spill into our off-screen lives. If people want to think that we are sleeping together in real life, then let them,” Toni says.
Wouldn’t it worry her or her family? “No. It’s natural,” she says. “It means we are doing a good job.”
Story: Jodie Brockwell
Pictures: Phil Blatch
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