New kids on the cell block

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Award-win­ning ac­tor Leah Pur­cell knew she had to take the chance of­fered when she got the call, writes for a while to fo­cus on my writ­ing and di­rect­ing,” she tells The Guide.

“Then all of a sud­den you get this phone call: ‘You’re go­ing to be the new kid on the block and we want you to col­lab­o­rate on the story’. It was a gift. I went ‘I’ve got to do this’.

“I’ve watched ev­ery sea­son. I don’t know if it was sea­son one or three, but at some point I said ‘I’ve got to get on this show’. I love the phys­i­cal­ity; in a lot of roles we (women) don’t get the op­por­tu­nity.”

Fol­low­ing sea­son five’s jaw-drop­ping fi­nale, sea­son six re­sumes with al­most all of Went­worth’s in­mates and of­fi­cers stunned by the ap­par­ent joint es­cape of Franky Doyle and Joan Fer­gu­son.

As So­nia Steven’s life and Vera Ben­nett’s ca­reer hang in the bal­ance, Kaz Proc­tor steels her­self for Top Dog du­ties again and the truth sur­round­ing the Freak’s demise weighs heav­ily on guards Will Jack­son and Jake Ste­wart.

Into this pres­sure-cooker en­vi­ron­ment walk two new in­mates: bikie gang af­fil­i­ate Rita Con­ners (Pur­cell) and young boxer Ruby Mitchell (Rar­ri­wuy Hick).

It’s a re­union for the indige­nous ac­tors, with Pur­cell di­rect­ing Hick in her break­through roles in both Clev­er­man and Redfern Now.

“We were happy to see each other on set. It’s daunt­ing to walk into an es­tab­lished show,” Pur­cell says.

“These women have five se­ries be­hind them and we were the strangers com­ing into a team fir­ing on all six cylin­ders.”

While Rita is quiet and ob­ser­vant, Ruby’s cheek­i­ness quickly gets her into trou­ble.

“She’s had a car ac­ci­dent. That’s in the past but she has a lot of trauma in her life,” Hick says. “She’s pushed it un­der the car­pet un­til she gets to Went­worth and she is con­fronted with it and has to re­ally deal with that.

“Ruby’s not afraid to speak up, and she likes to wind peo­ple up for a tick. She’s try­ing to serve her time and keep her head down, but it’s chal­leng­ing to do that when she’s such a smart ass.”

Rita comes to Ruby’s aid, but is it a sim­ple act of kind­ness or some­thing more? Viewers will find out the con­nec­tion be­tween the two women as the sea­son pro­gresses.

Susie Porter also joins the cast this year as feared crim­i­nal ma­tri­arch Marie Win­ter.


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