1st June 1985
TV WEEK Logie winner Anne Tenney bows out of A Country Practice as tragedy strikes
WANDIN Valley loses its most loved and zany resident and Australian television history turns another page this week with the screening of the saddest episode yet filmed in the multi-TV WEEK Logie Award-winning drama A Country Practice.
Every viewer of the top-rating Seven Network series will be reaching for hankies when Molly Jones, played by Anne Tenney, winner of this year’s TV WEEK Silver Logie as Australia’s most popular actress, succumbs to leukaemia after a heroic battle.
In her final appearance — a tribute to both the character of Molly and the talents of the actress who played her — JNP Productions, the series’ producers and creators, have made two tear-jerking programs that will ensure that Molly Jones and Anne Tenney are long remembered.
Much of the two episodes are centred on how other characters remember Molly. Through a series of flashbacks we see just what Molly meant to all of them — and to viewers.
“I think people who didn’t know that much about Molly could watch the shows and be able to see why everyone is so emotional about the fact that she’s going,” producer Lynn Bayonas said.
All of Molly’s best — and some of her worst — moments are included in the special episodes and, as a bonus for fans, one segment that has never screened as part of A Country Practice will go to air.
That flashback shows the first meeting between Molly, then known as Melissa Smithers, and Brendan Jones (Shane Withington) — before they married and came to Wandin Valley.
Although the episodes are strongly laced with emotion and sadness, the uplifting side of Molly Jones’ lovable character remains consistent — she is a tower of strength until her death.
“It will be for her wackiness that Molly Jones will always be remembered. That was Molly. Out of the most horrendous situations she was always able to raise a smile from people,” said Lynn.
Nevertheless, the harsh reality of Molly’s condition — she’s now riddled with both leukaemia and pneumonia — is not forgotten. For most of the episodes she is in isolation — and bored in the hospital ward.
She spends her last days on her much-loved farm with her friends, animals and most importantly, Brendan and daughter Chloe (Emily Nicol).
In fact, it is on the farm that Molly dies while she fondly watches Brendan and Chloe fly a kite. But viewers will not see Molly dead.
“The last we see her is when she smiles and waves to Brendan and Chloe,” explained Lynn.
There is no funeral for Molly. The series will resume three weeks after Molly’s death, in Wandin Valley time.
While the producers — and thousands of viewers — did not want Molly to go, they had no choice once Anne Tenney decided to quit the series early this year.
“Anne had psyched herself into the death scenes over the last 10 weeks of filming. She always tried to find the underlying feelings within Molly and I’m sure that’s what made Molly an intensely warm character,” Lynn said.
“The depth in Molly came from Anne. With the wrong person playing that role we could have ended up writing the character out earlier.”
Instead, Molly and Anne Tenney stayed for 310 episodes — and her Logie win this year shows just how popular Anne made her TV alter ego.
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