Bridie Carter has found a home in some of the most unforgettable locations on Australasian television, but it’s New Zealand that has a piece of her heart. Drovers Fly, Weld, and now Summer Bay.
“In a second, I’d go to New Zealand,” she admits, during a conversation about her new role as Susie MacAllister of Home And Away.
They want to move my children there. I’ve never heard them say that when I worked there, they would go to New Zealand, but every chance they could get to go. My husband really enjoys it.
Carter, world-renowned for playing Tess McLeod in the six seasons of McLeod’s Daughters, spent several weeks here shooting the 800 Words drama in which she played George’s (Erik Thomson) publisher, Jan.
She loved the experience.
Not only do I love New Zealand as a country, the people, the culture and all that stuff, I really like working there with people in the film industry because I think there’s a lovely, kind, humble attitude and I just love that. There, I felt really at home.
Those visits also allowed her to reconnect with Lisa Chappell, Michelle Beaufort of Shortland Street, who in McLeod’s Daughters played her sister Claire.
“I would walk through the corridors when I was working for South Pacific Pictures on 800 Words and, of course, there were photos of Lisa on the walls when she was on Gloss and City Life,” says Carter.
“So I went to the Auckland Theatre Company and saw her in a play and sent backstage a message saying,’ Afterwards, come out the front. There’s someone there to see you.”
She returned to the Byron Bay farm she shares with her husband Michael Wilson and sons Otis, 14, and Tobias, 9, after 800 Words being axed-a move Carter calls ‘just plain dumb.’ There, as a mother, her main role is.
“My children don’t care about the actress being their mother. I’m just the mother of them.
People still say, “What do you think about McLeod’s mom?” ‘And this and that and they don’t even offer a couple of hoots,’ she says. I was travelling on the lane, working for the first four or five years of the life of Otis. He went with me everywhere, so I did work.
There weren’t a lot of television sections after McLeod’s, however.
When you’re on such a famous show, I think what happens is there has to be some room. It’s really hard for people to see you as anything but that character, namely, Tess McLeod.
“At the time, I didn’t understand why. It’s been like, ‘Why? I’m a comedian. I’m meant to be something else. That’s my job, to transform, but sadly, people in our profession have limited opinions. I have no idea why. My job is to be different people, to step into the shoes of other people, not just the shoes of one person.
When the Home And Away producers came calling, Carter was back on the farm.
I was on my farm with my family in the middle of the height of Covid, home schooling and feeling genuinely grateful to live where I live, but at the same time in that horrible unknown that we were all in, when I got a call from my agent going, ‘You have a work offer,’ and I just went, ‘What?’ ’. I sort of didn’t believe him because there was nothing shooting at that point. It was so far from the ground. I was offered-and it doesn’t always happen like that, let me tell you-I was offered this job in the most beautiful way in the most precarious of times, so I have to say it was always a real blessing.
Susie, a real estate agent, has moved from Western Australia to Summer Bay to start a new life and, against all odds, she interacts with John Palmer (Shane Withington) of Summer Bay, who has recently separated from his wife Marilyn (Emily Symons).
“This job, I must say, is a feast. She is one of the most impressive roles I’ve performed on TV. Carter says it’s a very interesting job, agreeing that joining a long-running show such as Home And Away also brings its challenges.
When you start a show, it’s really different and you all start together, but this is a well-oiled beast. This show has been going on for decades, so it’s always strange to come into a show as a new person on the block, even though I’ve been around for a long time, but I have to admit it’s like a family. They just welcomed me, the cast and the crew, with open arms.