9th January 1982
IN ITS fifth year on TV, the hospital soapie The Young Doctors is facing a mass exodus of cast members.
Six of the show’s most popular actors are leaving, or have left, over the past few weeks — and several more may quit.
Those who have already gone include Diana McLean (Sister Vivienne Jeffries), Ros Wood (Sister Kate Rhodes), Eric Oldfield (Dr Ben Fielding) and Julie Wilson (Nurse Jody Carter).
In TV WEEK last week, we told of the departure of another favorite — heartthrob Peter Lochran (Dr Peter Holland) who leaves in March.
Hard on the heels of that shock came another — pretty, dark-haired Jackie Woodburne (Nurse Maggie Gordon) was leaving to join an ABC-TV series.
Jackie Woodburne will take a leading role in the big-budget mini-series, 1915.
She will play Diana, one of four leads in the story about two young country boys who go overseas to fight in World War I and of the girls they leave behind
Jackie said leaving The Young Doctors after 10 months would be hard.
“It feels very strange. I’ve grown fond of the people here and we work happily together,” she said
“But the time is right to do something else.”
During her stay with The Young Doctors, her character of Maggie has been involved in lots of dramas, one being an affair with Dr Graham Steele.
“When I leave, they’re not going to bump me off. I could be back at any time,” Jackie explained
Producer Alan Coleman denied that the program’s future is in doubt, however.
“Coronation Street has been running in England for 23 years with only two per cent of the original cast and it’s still as popular as ever,” he said.
“So is The Young Doctors. The rating figures prove it. And the feedback we get from the public, in phone calls and mail show people are watching
“Departures are good in a way. What do you do with the characters after you’ve had them in love affairs, and left them at the altar? You can only marry off so many.
“Ideally, you rest the characters and then bring them back later. We are not killing them off. We’re leaving them open so it could be they’ll come back later.”
According to Alan, the death of the show has been predicted every time a popular character leaves.
“When Lynda Stoner (Nurse Kim Barrington) left, some people said the show was on the way down. They said the same thing when Cornelia Frances (Matron Scott) left.
“We have new people coming in all the time. We’ve introduced new faces who have become extremely popular.”
Among the many new faces to to seen in 1982 will be blonde Sydney model Julie Field, who will play bewitching Nurse Emmy King, and Melbourne actor Nick Holland (destined to be the show’s new heart-throb) as Dr Mathew Blake
Alan said the Grundy Organisation, makers of the serial for the Nine Network, were committed to producing the serial until at least the end of 1982
Long before then, the medicated soapie will make history. Early next year it will break the record as the longest-running (with the most number of episodes) of any TV drama series in Australia.
The title is currently held by Number 96, at 1218 episodes
When the Young Doctors broke for Christmas, it had already notched up 1211 episodes.
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