Ker­rie O’Brien.

Marlborough Express - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Things have come full cir­cle for Si­grid Thorn­ton. Ap­pear­ing in Went­worth, a con­tem­po­rary take on life be­hind bars, takes her back some 35 years to her work on Pris­oner. It was her long­est stint on a tele­vi­sion se­ries and she learnt much from older ac­tors such as Sheila Flo­rance.

Just as Pris­oner de­vel­oped a se­ri­ous cult fol­low­ing, au­di­ences to­day are ob­sessed with the show’s more re­cent in­car­na­tion. It is screened in more than 140 ter­ri­to­ries with pro­duc­tions in Dutch, Ger­man and Flem­ish.

‘‘The fan­base of Went­worth has be­come part of its per­sonal iden­tity in some ways,’’ says Thorn­ton. ’’The fact that it has a cult fol­low­ing has in­formed the way peo­ple are on set. We are very aware of play­ing to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence.’’

The cast is a who’s who of Aus­tralian fe­male tal­ent. ‘‘It’s very un­usual to see an all-women en­sem­ble, in the same way that it was ground­break­ing back in the day, un­der the Pris­oner man­tle.’’

As won­der­ful as it is, Thorn­ton points out ‘‘it’s a lit­tle bit un­for­tu­nate that we’re still say­ing it’s ground­break­ing. Nev­er­the­less we have it and aren’t we lucky to be able to ex­plore such a thing’’.

Hav­ing an all-fe­male cast pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for many ac­tors who wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily find them­selves play­ing lead­ing char­ac­ters to ‘‘re­ally strut their stuff’’. The pro­duc­tion clev­erly re­verses type­casts, with those best known for car­ing roles, for ex­am­ple, or as re­served, play­ing pow­er­ful or men­ac­ing char­ac­ters.

‘‘It is very boldly cast. When a project like this takes off and gains its stripes, that gives the cre­atives li­cence to keep stretch­ing. Not only that, but as the show goes on you’ve got to find new chal­lenges and keep the stakes high. That’s one of the mark­ers of Went­worth, it’s very high stakes. It’s a credit to the cre­ators that they’ve man­aged to keep the stakes so high.’’

She can’t give away too much about what hap­pens to her char­ac­ter as there are ma­jor con­fi­den­tial­ity clauses around sto­ry­lines. Such things are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for shows like Went­worth. ‘‘It’s such a jug­ger­naut and it’s got an ex­tremely ded­i­cated and se­ri­ously vo­ra­cious fan­base in­ter­na­tion­ally, who can pick out a sniff on the wind if you like, so the con­fi­den­tial­ity needs to be quite strict.’’

Raised in Bris­bane, Thorn­ton pro­claimed she wanted to be an ac­tor at the age of 6. Although she first hit TV screens as a fresh-faced 18-year-old in The Get­ting of Wis­dom, it was through All the Rivers Run and The Man from Snowy River that Thorn­ton rose to promi­nence. She counts her­self lucky to have won roles as feisty, in­de­pen­dent women early in her ca­reer.

‘‘I played a good num­ber of very strong fe­male char­ac­ters of this time, women who were in some ways ahead of their time, who were boldly treading where women hadn’t trod be­fore,’’ she says.

That said, those roles weren’t

The star of some much-loved Aussie clas­sics is still driven by the urge to keep telling our trans-Tas­man neigh­bour’s own sto­ries, writes

with­out draw­backs. They firmly etched her on the public psy­che but cast her firmly in the old­e­worlde genre.

‘‘I was as­so­ci­ated with crino­lines for a very long time be­cause most of the work was pe­riod stuff. And then we just de­cided it was com­pletely sick- mak­ing to do pe­riod drama. Noone would touch pe­riod with a 50-foot pole.

‘‘That new wave that was com­ing up at that time when main­stream was not where you wanted to be. Be­ing some­one who was recog­nised in the street was anath­ema. That did have its

Si­grid Thorn­ton as she ap­peared 35 years ago in The Man From Snowy River.

Si­grid Thorn­ton is part of the allfe­male en­sem­ble in Went­worth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.