Some of Australian television’s all-time favourite ladies gathered at the Old Melbourne Gaol last night to launch the series rerun on Pay TV’s 111HITS.
Val Lehman (Bea Smith), Collette Mann (Doreen Anderson), Elspeth Ballantyne (Meg Morris), Patsy King (Erica Davidson), Carol Burns (Franky Doyle), Jane Clifton (Margot Gaffney), Judith McGrath (Colleen Powell) and Margaret Laurence (Marilyn Mason) were all in attendance along with media. Newspapers and A Current Affair were also gathering stories on the rare occasion.
Amanda Muggleton (Chrissie Latham) also sent an hilarious video message from Sydney, while Ella Hooper sang a rendition of the iconic theme song, “On The Inside.”
Soap guru Andrew Mercado hosted a Q&A with several cast members, in front of the gallows where Ned Kelly was hanged.
Top Dog Val Lehman told a story about the O-TEN Network being too nervous to run the show but producer Ian Bradley insisted they test it with market research.
“It was the first show that they ever did that to and the public said, ‘Yes we love it.’ And it saved us,” she said.
The cast also acknowledged the late Sheila Florence (Lizzie Birdsworth), plus Ian Bradley and creator Reg Watson.
“Oh yes, alright, but not Reg Grundy,” said Collette Mann.
Her sentiments echoed the fact that for years the cast weren’t getting residuals.
Mann, who for year had resisted reunions, said she is still recognised by fans.
“I love it when they come up to me and say, ‘Where’s your teddy bear, Doreen?'” she said.
“And I say, ‘Guess what, you’re not the first person to ever have said that’ and they’re so disappointed.”
Fiona Spence, who played Vera Bennett admitted she didn’t mind her ‘Vinegar Tits’ nickname.
“I read the script and I knew it was going to happen, so it never worried me. Back then all the young ones were a little bit coy about saying it. They used to laugh and giggle and were really quite shy. It didn’t bother me. I thought it was a good nickname,” she said.
Judith McGrath conceded that she got a shock when she learned of Colleen Powell’s ‘Po-Face’ nickname.
“Especially when I was looking at a script going, ‘What the shit is this?'”
Prisoner‘s run from 1979 to 1986 is still one of the country’s most beloved soaps, inspiring several international spin-offs and serving as a springboard for a string of Australian actresses.
111HITS will replay all 692 episodes beginning with Episode #1 from 6:30pm Monday.