Tuesday, October 24, 2006

wicked women

Australian TV has a fine tradition of bitches - in this instance I'm talking about the two-legged fictional ones (yes, from soap operas) - those nefarious characters we love to hate. The trailblazer was Maggie "bloody" Cameron, played so brilliantly by New Zealand born actress Bettina Welch in Number 96 (1972-1977). Bettina was an original cast member of the sex 'n' sin soapy and as Maggie Cameron she couldn't help but wreak havoc on the residents of the apartment block where the series was set. In 1975 she committed the ultimate act of evil when she planted a bomb and blew the building (and four of its' occupants) to smithereens. Maggie Cameron set the trend for other bitches who followed in her wake - Judy Nunn as Vicki Stafford in The Box (1974-77), Cornelia Frances as Sister Scott in The Young Doctors (1976-83) and subsequently as Morag Bellingham in Home & Away (1988- ). Then there were others like Fiona Spence as Vera "Vinegar Tits" Bennett in Prisoner (1979-86) and Rowena Wallace AND Belinda Giblin both unforgettable as Patricia "Pat the Rat" Hamilton (aka Alison Carr - it's soap, of course it's complicated) in Sons & Daughters (1982-87), Vivean Gray as Nell Mangle in Neighbours (1985- ) and lastly Christine Stephen-Daly as Amber in Pacific Drive (1996-2001). It must be great for these actresses to play such meaty, memorable roles. Cornelia Frances has often said how much she enjoys playing nasty.

Unfortunately I never met Bettina Welch, who died about 14 years ago, but I've met a lot of people who worked with her. She was adored by her colleagues and they all say the same thing - she was nothing like her on-screen persona. (The same is true of the other actresses I've listed, the ones I've met at least)...

bonus coincidence file > bettina welch

The other night I was trapped in cyberspace 'til the wee hours of the morning when I came across a reference to Bettina in the 1965 TV adaptation of the classic Aussie novel My Brother Jack. The next night my housemate Tom informed me (un-prompted by me) that he'd borrowed a copy of... My Brother Jack from work. I didn't even know it was available on DVD. Unfortunately it was an overnight loan and he's already taken it back, but I've asked him to borrow it again so I can watch it. I can hardly wait!


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