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Priestley's brutal All Saints finale

ALL Saints star Mark Priestley was dealing with a brutal storyline involving the murder of his on-screen wife when the actor took his own life in August.

In an eerie coincidence his final two episodes - the first of which was shown last night - were written packed with tragedy, sadness and the departure of two leading characters.

But the last 10 minutes of Priestley's final chapter were re-written to explain the sudden disappearance of his character Dan Goldman after Priestley fell to his death in Sydney's CBD.

The final episodes feature the death of Erica, played by Jolene Anderson, and Goldman's sudden decision to resign. Castmate Wil Traval's character also leaves.

Priestley fell from a 23rd floor hotel room on August 27, hours after filming his final scene at studios in Epping.

Channel Seven drama chief John Holmes, speaking for the first time about the tragedy, said scenes had to be rewritten and filmed two days after cast and crew were told of Priestley's death.

"The cast and crew have been so professional since that day and been getting on with business, but that's all they can do really," he said yesterday.

"Everyone has been so upset, but it affected everyone differently - some blocked it out, others dwelled.

"But as soon as they see Mark in different scenes, it all comes back and they remember a vibrant, funny and talented man and it shocks them, they feel a terrible sadness that he took his own life.

"But Mark will be in in the hearts of his colleagues and the show itself forever."

Priestley was suffering long term depression and had recently split with his actress partner Kate Mulvany.

Priestley's final scene (airing Tuesday November 18) sees him talking to police officers 10 minutes before the episode ends.

"Clearly the material has added weight because everyone privvy to the situation realises that the material carries extra weight for everybody involved," Holmes said.

"When you are shooting those scenes after an event such as Mark's death, the weight becomes far more poignant."

Holmes said Priestley's illness was well known among colleagues, but no-one expected his death.

"Mark was obviously troubled and he did cause us a lot of angst in production, but if he started a day he would finish a day and was very professional," Holmes said.

"He always shot his scenes, and in the lead up to his final scenes - even though he must have been going through personal hell - his performance in every scene is nothing but professional.

"But a happy hour of television it isn't."

Entire storylines for the months ahead had to be re-written to accommodate his death, but the cast have made a group decision not to talk about Priestley.

By Marcus Casey
November 12, 2008
The Daily Telegraph