TV Week
10th August 1991

A bitter custody battle triggers an amazing change in one of TV’s best loved characters…

WILL a desperate quest for parenthood he the force that drives television’s favorite couple, Matt and Lucy Tyler (John Tarrant and Georgie Parker), out of Wandin Valley forever?

A Country Practice insiders still won’t say, but one thing is certain — fans of the show will be shocked by a bitter child custody battle and taken aback to see that the ever popular Lucy is capable of being calculating and spiteful.

The turnaround in her character has shocked even Georgie.

“It’s a dimension to Lucy that nobody has seen before,” Georgie tells TV WEEK. “She turns nasty, very nasty.”

What causes this abrupt personality change? The desperate love for a child that was never hers to keep in the first place.

In recent episodes of A Country Practice, Matt and Lucy have settled down to foster-parenthood with their child, Jason.

Unfortunately, foster- parents live with the knowledge there will come a time when they have to hand the child back to its natural parents. It is a hard fact Lucy refuses to accept.

And when Jason’s mother, played by Lisa Hensley, returns to collect Jason after having won custody of him through the courts, Lucy refuses to give the child up.

Lisa — soon to be seen in the ABC mini-series Brides Of Christ — says Georgie Parker is brave for agreeing to a storyline putting her character in a bad light.

“So many actors are obsessed with image and always wanting to be seen as the good guy,” Lisa says. “Georgie is not like that. She wants a script to be believable. In this storyline her character doesn’t play fair at all.

“She dismisses me as nothing more than a junkie who is unable to cope.

“She is so obsessed with protecting her own interests, she can’t see my character’s side and her need to be reunited with her son. My character is not a bad person, but a victim of circumstances.”

Georgie agrees the storyline was tough on her.

“Could you imagine being in that situation?” she asks. “You love a child, you care for it, then you have to hand it back. Lucy is not sympathetic to the real mother at all.

“I had trouble with the script. I kept thinking, ‘Surely if she’s a nurse, couldn’t she see it from the other woman’s perspective?’ But she is dead against her having her child back. I thought my character’s actions were fairly immoral.

“Then I thought of it in the sense that Lucy has grown to love the child, considers herself the caretaker of the child and thinks the woman is unfit to be a mother.”

It is that sort of accusation that Georgie felt uncomfortable with.

She says: “That’s a fairly large judgment to make — that you consider someone is unfit to be a mother, when they are fit. I had a lot of trouble making that work for me. I think it’s worked. Lisa helped a great deal — she is a very thorough actress and makes the scene look very natural.”
In he art-wrenching scenes, Lucy realises the inevitable and baby Jason is reluctantly handed over to his mother.

While the storyline was difficult enough, Georgie and Lisa agree that working with their 10-month-old “co-star” Sam Boggs was almost impossible!

“I’m dreading ACP coming out,” Lisa says. “I’m worried my work won’t be good enough. On the first Friday of filming, I phoned my mum and told her, ‘I can’t do this’.

“We love Sam — he’s a beautiful baby — but when he was taken away from his mother, he would scream. It left us so stressed out. You couldn’t concentrate.”

Georgie continues: “In the scenes when you wanted him to be hysterical, he was happy. In the scenes where he was meant to be blissful and happy, he was tired and upset. Everything they say about working with children and animals is true!

“I felt sorry for Sam’s mother. She had to watch as we had cast and crew saying, ‘Do this and do that’. It must have been difficult.” So what is the future for Lucy and Matt Tyler?

In episodes screening later this month, Lucy agrees to an IVF program, but ACP producers still won’t confirm officially that — as revealed by TV WEEK — Georgie and John are leaving the series.

Story: Glen Williams
Pictures: Michele Day

Original content copyright TV Week.