Bridie Carter on the return of McLeod’s Daughters
You said goodbye to McLeod's Daughters on January 31, 2009, but the show remains as popular as ever. Why do you think that is?
I don't feel like this show ended. I feel like it's alive today, probably even more than it was back then. I really do.
McLeod's Daughters is bigger than us. It's bigger than you. It's bigger than me. It has a massive global following. And the wonderful thing that's happened through COVID has been this lifeline for not only people who are dedicated fans from the 2000s, but we have new fans coming on board all of the time. We have generations watching.
[During this period] I started watching Outlander. It has got me through. I've fallen in love with these characters. I had this moment when I was watching when I went, "Now I get what people get with McLeod's." When a show is so beautifully made and the characters are so detailed and we can savour them, you really feel like they're a part of your heart and your family. Tess McLeod sits warmly in my heart. She always will; she's part of me.
And apparently there's now a feature film being made?
[Creator and showrunner] Posie Graeme-Evans is, at the moment, writing the feature script. If and when it comes back - of course, we know how hard things are to develop, but we've all got our fingers and toes crossed - I can't imagine how profoundly intriguing it's going to be for me to revisit and step into Tess' shoes again.
You know, I always say [my son] Otis was on McLeod's. He was in my tummy - I was seven-and-a-half or eight months pregnant when I stopped, so he was on the show. And then I was back on set when he was four weeks old. I'm a very hands-on mum, so he was on set every day. I was breastfeeding. It was chaos. So much has changed since then.
Not only have I changed, but what's happened in Tess' life? It's a bit like you have multiple personalities, as an actor.
Speaking of multiple personalities, you'll be seen on Home And Away next year.
But you've actually played two other characters on the show before [Toni Jarvis in 1995 and Brooke Taylor in 1999].
Yeah, it's amazing [laughs]. It's my third time and third character now. I knew I'd been on Home And Away obviously, but it was such a long time ago and I was like, "I don't even remember my character's name!"
I remembered one storyline because it was with Rachael Blake, who's a wonderful Australian actress. We were in NIDA together. I think the other one, it was back in the time of Nic Testoni and the beautiful Belinda Emmett [who passed away in 2006].
It was a very special time. It's a testament to the success and longevity of this wonderful Australian show called Home And Away.
Your latest character on the show is Susie, who is a real-estate agent.
Since Summer Bay is the most dangerous place to live in Australia, what with all the kidnappings, explosions and hostage situations, how hard is it for her to sell houses?
She's got a tough job! When I first started, the cast were like, "Oh, everything happens here. Murders, kidnapping… don't worry about it. This is just Summer Bay." I'm like, "Oh, OK. Thanks for the welcome."
Audiences are so dedicated and committed that anything can happen. There's something really magical about that, I think. I fell off my chair when I received the phone call from my agent about Home And Away. It was in the middle of COVID and nothing was shooting.
I said to my agent, "What? How can this happen?" I was so perplexed and astounded - and excited. And yes, Susie's a real-estate agent.
I live in Byron Bay, so I'm surrounded by real-estate agents [laughs]. It's crazy here at the moment. I'm just so glad I'm on my farm with nature and paddocks around me. And cows!
It certainly seems like Byron Bay is the place to be… [Carter lives there with her husband, clothing designer Michael Wilson, and sons Otis, 15, and Tobias, 10].
I live on my farm and it's a very simple life. I talk to the women in the supermarket who I've known for 20 years.
I want to hear about how their day is going, I want to hear if they're recovering from their chemotherapy, I want to hear if their mum bought that couch or not. I want to hear about their lives because that's what connects me to my community, it's what makes me feel like I belong. And then I know I'm alright and that I have a place in the world.
I'm not interested in surface stuff and shallowness. What interests me is other people.
Home and Away returns to the Seven Network and 7plus in February 2021.
Originally published as Bridie Carter on the return of McLeod's Daughters