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...But Oriana Panozzo was One Star Who Beat the Dreaded Axe

Sons and Daughters beauty Oriana Panozzo had already made her decision to quit the Seven Network soapie.

She told Grundys, the show’s producers, she was leaving the series on December 3.

Now she will be followed by the rest of the cast when Sons and Daughters ends production at the end of March next year.

The show which has had a highly creditable run of just over five years will, according to the Seven Network, continue to be seen until late August 1987.

And the show’s executive producer, Don Battye, promises there will be a few shocks, a couple of marriages and plenty of high drama before the show disappears from our screens.

"It will be going out with a bang - I can promise you that," he told TV WEEK.

The return of the real Pat the Rat, Rowena Wallace, confronting Belinda Giblin, who as Alison Carr was supposed to be a new-look Pat after extensive plastic surgery, will provide fireworks as the riddle of their identities is resolved.

Oriana, who has played TV’s beleaguered Susan Hamilton for the past 14 months, decided some weeks back she would not be continuing with the show.

But the rest of the cast did not know the fate of the show until the axe fell on November 7.

"As far as I’m concerned, 14 months is heaps in a soap opera. I was starting to feel the wear and tear of early mornings, learning lines and having virtually no private or social life," Oriana said.

"When you work on something like this you eat, drink and sleep Sons and Daughters.

"And there was nowhere else for Susan to go; there was no reason for her to stick around."

Oriana is the first to admit the real-life dramas she had to cope with in the past year - including the death of her father in June and the breakup of an eight-year relationship - influenced her decision.

"It’s been a very draining year and that’s mainly because the personal side of my life has been so busy," she said.

Playing Susan was Oriana’s first major series role and she said it taught her a lot about series production and technique.

Oriana had been planning an overseas holiday after Christmas. But she may have to forego her trip - she already has offers for two plays and a telemovie.

"I’m not sure what’s happening with any of those yet, buy apart from that I will probably be doing Macbeth and Hamlet with Shakespeare for Schools in March next year. And there’s a chance we might be travelling to Singapore to do a production of Julius Caesar."

Oriana will continue to be seen in Sons and Daughters until April.

One of the show’s original cast members, Leila Hayes, was philosophical about the axing.

She found it 'extraordinary' that she had mentioned to her daughter when she set off for work on the day the axe fell that this was the very day five years ago she had taped her first episode of Sons and Daughters.

"But everybody concerned feels it’s had a jolly good run," Don Battye said.

Rowena Wallace, who in three years with the show earned the title of television's 'queen bitch' and 'Australia’s answer to JR', sending the ratings soaring, hadn’t heard the news of Sons and Daughters' demise when TV WEEK contacted her.

She was in the middle of taping one of the show’s major new storylines where she comes face to face with what viewers have believed to be the 'new Pat the Rat', Alison Carr, played by Belinda Giblin.

"Was it something I said?" Rowena quipped.

On a more serious note, she added: "I’m very sorry for the regulars. It will hit them really hard but I guess it had to come. It’s the end of an era. They were hoping to give the show an injection with our storyline, now they’re not even going to wait to see what the outcome is - it had to come. One assumes they were seriously thinking about it (winding up the show) even before I came back."

Belinda Giblin said she was only contracted until June next year.

"I was going to leave anyway. It’s time for a new adventure.

"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing it and I think it’s had an excellent innings for a soap opera. I haven’t been with the series since its inception, so I probably don’t have that really strong family feeling about it but my feelings are still good for the show. It’s been a really fun 20 months. Rowie and I have had a ball, just for the last weeks she came in, and the storylines have been great fun.

"It’s only fair now to replace it, soon, as it's employed so many actors and production people in the industry. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the show... but I will miss the money!"

By: Unknown
Source: TV Week
Date: 22 November 1986


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