Recently our 6:30 shows have featured stories on Young Talent Time, Prisoner, A Country Practice and notoriously, Hey Dad. But last night a classic Australian TV star became an unwilling subject of another story –Number 96‘s screen siren Abigail.
Abigail was Australian television’s first sex symbol, or as TT promos told us, “Television royalty.”
“We discovered the once-glamorous Abigail living as a hermit,” said reporter Jackie Quist.
She is living 300km north of Melbourne “about as far as you can get from the glit and glamour of television.”
An elderly and elusive Abigail was filmed “hidden under a large hat and veil”, perhaps rather like the camera that filmed her surreptitiously when she opened a door at her makeshift home. Abigail appeared to not realise she was being filmed at the time.
The reclusive 70s icon is reportedly living “in squalor” in an abandoned Sunday school hall after her home was devastated by Victorian floods. She lives with husband and actor Adrian Wright.
“Here there’s no power, no bathroom, no hot water,” said Quist.
TT claimed Wright was refusing to leave the church in the small community, but a Uniting Church minister said she had given permission for the couple to stay.
“People in need are in need, and you do what you can for them,” said Barbara Russell.
The minister thought they would stay 2 or 3 weeks but the stay had now extended to 2 months. While the Uniting Church won’t evict them she believes they would be better staying somewhere “more appropriate.”
But Wright was also unwilling to talk to TT, instead filmed from a distance as he yelled abusively at the intrusion.
The story featured neighbours and locals giving mostly negative quotes about the couple.
Last year TT made a similar story about how Gold Logie winner Rowena Wallace was to become homeless. Wallace had agreed to the interview and it had a happy ending as viewers inundated her with offers of accommodation. The show even got a follow-up story out of it.
In the case of Abigail and Wright, the couple must have wanted to keep their privacy, but Seven was having none of that. “Where Are They Now?” stories are flavour of the month. Our old TV stars are being uncovered under rocks and swiftly showcased as either golden day heroes or social villains.
It doesn’t matter if you want to participate in the story or not. It doesn’t even matter that you’ve been evicted out of house and home by the forces of mother nature this year. You make good telly.
This was a sad story made even sadder.
UPDATE: McLeod’s Daughters / Hi-5 creator/ producer Posie Graeme-Evans will be sharing more of her thoughts on Abigail’s circumstances on A Current Affair tonight.