All Saints: articles

Saints comes to its senses

THERE is a new pastime on the set of Australian television drama All Saints: learning how to use sign language.

The show's newest cast member, Alex Jones, the first deaf actor to get a permanent role on a top-rating local television series, has been teaching Georgie Parker and the other All Saints actors how to sign in Auslan (Australian sign language).

Jones, 27, plays Lyle Slater, a deaf teenager employed by the hospital after a suicide attempt.

The actor, who was born deaf, can lip-read and is able to hear some things with the help of a hearing aid (he had music playing when The Australian interviewed him yesterday), but not necessarily when the director yells "cut".

He tells of missing action calls and nearly deafening boom operators with loud crunching on crackers in a party scene.

"I love working there, the people have become such good friends of mine… but they do tease me a lot," he said through an interpreter.

More seriously, Jones said his role was a realistic reflection of what could happen with deaf people in the workplace. He hopes the character will reach out to deaf people in regional and rural Australia, especially to deaf children who may not have access to adults with hearing impairments. "That's where a role like this is going to have the most effect, be the most educational and create the most exposure," Jones said.

Jones was born in the US, where deaf actor Marlee Matlin has enjoyed a successful career, now appearing on Nine's The West Wing. He moved to Sydney five years ago.

By Sophie Tedmanson
October 15, 2001
The Australian

Alex Jones

A good sign!

All Saints star Georgie Parker has been learning a new language and it's all thanks to her All Saint's co-star Alex Jones. As Australia's first deaf actor Alex plays Patient Services Assistant Lyle Slater.

'When Alex came on the show, I started to learn sign language,' says Georgie, although she admits that her sign language skills are still very basic. 'It's not like I could walk into a group of deaf people at a party and have an exciting conversation with their using sign language. But I can have a pretty simple conversation. And thankfully Alex reads lips and also speaks!'

Although Alex has an interpreter while working on the show, Georgie says that he encourages her and the rest of the cast to use sign language when talking to him. 'He's very encouraging with it. And we've become great friends since he starting working on the show, we also see each other on a social basis, and signing is the main way we try and converse.'

As well as teaching his cast mates basic signing, Georgie says Alex has also made the cast and crew more aware of the issues which face deaf people, so much so that Georgie recently opened a conference addressing such issues in Sydney.

'Alex had been involved in organising the conference and he asked if I would like to open for it, so I did. But I would love to become involved with the Deafness Foundation on a more basis if I had the time. But I guess it's one of those dreams that you have to put on hold until there's more hours in the day.'

By Erin Craven
TV Week
December 03, 2001