Interview with Judy Nunn
Judy Nunn has played a variety of roles
on both stage and screen, but is probably best-known
for her portrayal of Ailsa Stewart in Home and
Away and, in the mid-1980s, her stint as Irene
Fisher in Sons and Daughters.
The actress has also written several
novels, two of which - 'Beneath the Southern Cross'
and 'The Glitter Game' - are pictured at the bottom
of the page. All of Judy's books are available in
the UK and Australia. Further information is available
Judy kindly agreed to answer some questions
about her time in Sons and Daughters, which
How were you cast as Irene Fisher?
I auditioned, was cast for a six week storyline, the producers
ended up liking the character so I stayed for nearly two years.
Do you have a favourite storyline from your
time in Sons and Daughters?
Having decided to make the six week character a regular, the
writers further decided to 'expand' Irene's background. She'd
been a 'one of the boys' type who enjoyed a pizza and a tinnie,
but when Gordon (Brian Blain) dropped to the floor from a heart
attack, Irene jumped on him, gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
and cardiac massage, then rose to announce to astonished onlookers
'I'm really a doctor but it's a long time since I practiced.'
Do you have a least-favourite storyline?
Saying goodbye to my son who was going off to die in a clinic
in Switzerland. I found it difficult to believe that I wouldn't
have gone with him. Most untruthful, but then his contract was
up and mine wasn't.
What did you think of how far-fetched the storylines
got at times?
Bold, inventive and outrageous. Particularly when Pat the Rat
left in the form of Rowena Wallace and came back in the form
of Belinda Giblin. The 'plastic surgery' she'd had somehow explained
the two inch height and three stone weight difference. But then
both women are terrific actresses (and great mates of mine)
and the viewers accepted it.
As a writer yourself, did you ever approach
the storyliners with ideas for stories?
Never. Don't like to interfere in other people's work unless
Were you ever interested in writing an episode
No. I would never wish to write for a series in which I was
acting, and I would not enjoy acting in an episode which had
been written by a fellow cast member. Dangerous situation.
What do you think it was about Sons and
Daughters that made it so popular?
Can't really answer for overseas. On the home front - simple.
To be a success in Australia a show must rate in the two major
cities - Sydney and Melbourne. Very difficult as the cities
are very competitive and favour the homegrown product. Sons
and Daughters revolved around a split family - one half
living in Melbourne, one half living in Sydney. Viewers in both
cities thought the show was shot in their hometown so it was
equally popular in both places. It was actually shot in Sydney.
Local licence plates were not shown on screen and the Melbourne
cast members were taken interstate once a month and filmed walking
past local landmarks so no-one knew the difference. Very clever.
How did you come to leave the series: did you
ask to be written out, or were you told you were going?
Told I was going. Too many single 'nice aunty' types - myself,
Cornelia Frances and Pat McDonald, so Cornie and I were given
our walking orders and they stayed with Pat McDonald, the original
nice Aunt Fiona.
Do you have any interesting or amusing anecdotes
about your time on Sons and Daughters that you have
time to share?
The interminable jumper I was knitting for my dying son. A props
person took it home each night and it grew and grew over the
agonising weeks of the storyline. I'm a lousy knitter so we
never had closeups of me doing the actual handiwork. Many years
later I had a letter from a very nice fan in the UK apologising
in case I thought she was being tasteless, but could she please
have the pattern of the jumper I knitted for my dying son.