20th September 2003
Simone McAullay arrives in Mt Thomas as a new police officer determined to make a fresh start.
Another gorgeous girl in blue is about to make her presence felt in Blue Heelers – if her troubled husband will let her, that is.
Constable Susie Raynor, played by Perth-born actress Simone McAullay, impresses her Mt Thomas police colleagues with her positive approach to life and dedication to her job, but her personal life is not what it seems.
When Susie leaves the station each night, she returns home to her husband Brad (Matt Passmore) – a former police officer who was left a paraplegic after a high-speed chase that ended in a horrific accident.
Susie remains as committed as ever to her husband, but it becomes clear that he is not coping well with his new life in the small rural town.
However, Simone’s character, who arrives in Mt Thomas in this week’s episode, is determined to keep her private life just that – private.
“Susie wants to keep her two worlds separate for as long as she can,” she says. “She and Brad have come to Mt Thomas for a new start, in terms of their relationship and trying to get that back on the road. But he’s obviously very depressed.”
Simone, who previously appeared in Crash Palace, admits that landing the challenging role of Susie in Blue Heelers is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It’s an absolute dream come true,” she says. “For years, I’ve wanted to do a role like this, which will put you in a place within Australian television and the Australian psyche. When it happens, you can’t quite believe it.”
Joining the tight-knit cast of the top-rating Seven Network series was a daunting project, but Simone has quickly been made to feel at ease.
“Everyone has been so helpful,” she says. “At first, I turned up to the set a bit stunned, but the cast are very sensitive to what I’ve gone through.
“The main advice they give me is that it’s normal to feel a bit like you’re spinning out of control. They say, ‘It’s a whole new world that you’ve dived in to – but everyone goes through it and it will pass, so don’t fight it.”
A graduate of the Actors Centre in Sydney, Simone was “horribly nervous” at her final Blue Heelers audition, in which she had to strut her stuff before the rest of the cast.
“I don’t normally get nervous in auditions but I felt like I did a really bad job,” she says. “Suddenly, I was faced with these people who are established actors and characters.
“I was just freaked out. Since then, I haven’t felt intimidated by them because they’re all so lovely.”
One thing bubbly Simone still feels a little unsure about is the prospect of being recognised by fans.
“I don’t think you know how I’ll respond. I guess I could freak out and turn into this ugly snapping monster… but I don’t think so!”
The Officer and the DJ
What is DJ Pete from Always Greener doing in Mt Thomas?
His portrayer Matt Passmore has taken on a new acting challenge, as Susie Raynor’s husband Brad.
“I liked this role when I heard about it because of how different it is to DJ Pete,” Matt says.
“Brad blames himself for the accident (which left him a paraplegic). He knows it in himself that he didn’t back off when he should have. The hunter in him took over and he paid the price. That’s his demon.
“Brad is trying to get his head above water, but he really is drowning,” Matt adds. “It’s caused him to be bitter and angry!”
It’s a new Maggie
Susie Raynor fills the void left by Sgt Tess Gallagher, who farewelled Mt Thomas when complications in her pregnancy forced her to abandon her career and return to the city.
The predecessor of Tess (Caroline Craig), much loved Snr Constable Maggie Doyle (Lisa McCune), was fatally shot by her brother, a corrupt cop.
Do they have anything in common? Yes!
- They are blondes: All three officers share a definite physical resemblance. They are slim, blue-eyed and have short, blonde locks.
- They are all dedicated: Susie is devoted to her job, as were Tess and Maggie, and she is also a cool cop under pressure.
- The all have love dramas: The romance of Maggie and Sr Det PJ Hasham (Martin Sacks) was long-running and tumultuous. Tess’s surprise marriage to Dr Josh Carmichael (Daniel Frederiksen) fell apart when she learnt he was gay. Constable Evan “Jonesy” to Brad, but their life will never be the same after his traffic on-the-job accident.
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