TV Week
29th February 1992

…but Bob and Cookie will be back for a final curtain call.

IT’S goodbye Wandin Valley for three of A Country Practice’s most loved characters.

In episodes screening March 9 and 10, Gordon Piper (Bob Hatfield), Syd Heylen (Cookie) and Matt Day (Luke) leave the series that made them household names

While viewers have been saddened with news of the departure, all three actors are positive about the future — and Gordon and Syd will return for a final curtain call.

Matt, in particular, is happy. After deciding more than eight months ago to leave the Seven Network series, some gentle persuasion, combined with strong storylines, kept him around for another six months.

He is now convinced it is the right time to leave.

“The character is now rounded off and I feel he has gone as far as he can for me,” Matt says.

“And at this stage, I have learned as much as I want to about TV. To be honest, I have been getting tired of the rigmarole of television.

“I just feel it has obstructed me from what I wanted to do with acting. So now it is time to get back to something that is more concentrated on what the actor is doing

“Theatre is the next avenue I wish to explore.”

Matt is quick to point out he is by no means negative towards his time in A Country Practice

“Tt has been a very positive experience,” he says. “And if I wanted to stay in television, I would stay in ACP.

“If I was offered another long-term TV role, I would say no at the moment. I want to steer clear of TV for a while.”

Matt has achieved his wish to explore other avenues of acting

He has landed a romantic lead in the New England Theatre Company’s production of The Game Of Love And Chance.

“I’m excited,” he says. “The role will be very removed from Luke.”

Syd Heylen and Gordon Piper also say they have no regrets.

“I’ve made a lot of good friends,” says Syd. “The series kept me before a broad audience, which you don’t get to cover doing live work.

“It has been a happy period.”

Gordon, meanwhile, is adamant he won’t be returning to ACP.

“There will be no return performances,” he says. “When Syd and I filmed our last scenes, I said, ‘This is it mate,’ and we shook hands. It is the end of an era.”

But Gordon and Syd will return to Wandin Valley, briefly. They will be back for two episodes, screening at the end of April, in a storyline in which Cookie has to return to hospital.

While Syd isn’t saying what his plans are, Gordon is heading north to make fishing videos for the Australian Fishing Corporation.

“I’ve got plenty on,” he says.

In the March episodes, Cookie and Bob leave the valley to holiday after winning big at the races.

Luke breaks Darcy’s heart when he departs to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.

Glen Williams

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