Look­ing for­ward to the Fields of grey

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

IN THE lead-up to its 2007 pre­miere, Brothers & Sis­ters could not find a friend among TV crit­ics.

The se­ries had a dif­fi­cult birth, lead­ing many to as­sume its de­but episode would be a stinker and that the show would dis­ap­pear quickly from our screens.

The orig­i­nal Brothers & Sis­ters pilot had been a fail­ure. The plot, re­volv­ing around the death of a fam­ily pa­tri­arch, played by Tom Sk­er­ritt, was too dark.

Pro­duc­ers de­cided the show re­quired a ma­jor re­write and a bold in­jec­tion of hu­mour.

Betty Buck­ley was forced to va­cate the piv­otal role of widow Nora Walker. Twotime Os­car win­ner Sally Field was rushed in to play Nora in a new pilot and has shone in the role since.

That’s not to say Field is en­am­ored by Nora.

‘‘ What do I love best about Nora? Oh, God, I don’t know,’’ Field says, stum­bling for words.

‘‘ Her cook­ing . . . oh, I don’t know. Her flower ar­range­ments . . . are re­ally aw­ful. I can’t an­swer what I like about Nora.

‘‘ I’m too close to Nora to be able to an­swer that. And be­sides that, I don’t want to an­swer that be­cause it feels like I’m com­ment­ing on her. I mean, the minute I start em­brac­ing Nora, eww. It’s al­ready bor­der­line eww.’’

There was a time when it was un­think­able that Field would com­mit to a lon­grun­ning TV role. How­ever, like many of her Hol­ly­wood con­tem­po­raries, she has dis­cov­ered the stan­dard of writ­ing in TV has risen at a time when it’s near im­pos­si­ble to score a de­cent movie role.

Field, 64, says Brothers & Sis­ters has helped dis­miss the no­tion that it’s im­pos­si­ble for TV soap to reach high artis­tic ideals.

‘‘ It is a melo­drama, a con­tin­u­ing melo­drama,’’ she says of the show.

‘‘ That’s an OK thing. What our show has that most se­ri­alised melo­dra­mas usu­ally doesn’t have is com­edy. So we are a se­ri­alised melo­drama with com­edy.

‘‘ Life is very event­ful, and when you are do­ing it in se­ri­alised main­stream tele­vi­sion, it’s height­ened.’’

Field is film­ing the role of May Parker in the fea­ture The Amaz­ing Spi­der Man.

Her hope is that she will con­tinue to work and grow old grace­fully in the process.

‘‘ I’m a hun­gry ac­tor,’’ she once said.

‘‘ I al­ways will be. I’m dy­ing to know what char­ac­ters are there for me when I’m older. And I won’t be do­ing those char­ac­ters if I don’t look older.

‘‘ Un­for­tu­nately, I live in a so­ci­ety that doesn’t wel­come or em­brace age­ing. I don’t care be­cause there are these won­der­ful plays out there and things I want to do in my life where age­ing is part of it.

‘‘ I want to be, you know, Lil­lian Gish, for God’s sake. I mean, she was just stag­ger­ing. The choices be­tween age­ing and not age­ing are death, and that’s re­ally grim.’’ Brothers& Sis­ters, Chan­nel 7, Mon­day, 9.30pm

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