All Saints: articles

MRU trio add energy injection to All Saints

HANGING over cliffs and dropping from helicopters has become part of John Waters' routine on the set of hospital drama All Saints.

"I haven't done much in the way of helicopter rescue and winching down out of the choppers has been very exciting. But it's certainly a big challenge physically," admits the veteran multi-talented performer who has played pot-stirring Dr Mike Vlasek on All Saints for the past three years.

"We've been doing a lot of abseiling over cliffs and doing rescues out in the field. But, it's been great. An average joy ride of 15 minutes costs a couple of hundred dollars, we get to go whizzing around for free."

The best thing about doing these adrenalin-filled scenes is the AFI and Logie award-winning star doesn't have to do them alone.

The Matrix-style helicopter and outdoor work is all part of All Saints' rejuvenated format, which includes the introduction of the Medical Response Unit (MRU) and paramedic Jo, portrayed by newcomer Mirrah Foulkes.

Completing the MRU's team is All Saints regular Dr Steve Taylor (Jack Campbell).

"The Medical Response Unit is a way of getting doctors and surgeons to the site of accidents rather than just waiting for paramedics to bring them into hospital, it saves lives by getting to them earlier," Waters says.

"Viewers will still see the regular All Saints department in action through various stories in the emergency department, but it's all tied together to broaden the show out a bit, and it has given the show more action.

"I think it's been a great thing for the show on a whole, particularly for us who get to do all the exciting stuff."

Foulkes says the most difficult thing about being a paramedic is co-ordinating the medical jargon with the stunts.

"It can get really tricky, I get a bit mixed up when all the stuff is combined," says the 27-year-old Queensland-raised actress.

"With all the heavy medical stuff it's really interesting to see how actors become really accomplished at that because they are repeating it all the time, but to me it is still terrifying. A couple of weeks ago I was doing my first CPR exercise, and doing chest compressions is a new thing for me, so combine that with the abseiling and it can be tricky trying to make it look like you've been doing it for years."

While learning the lingo has taken time, settling into the program, which began in 1998, and breaking into a well-established cast has been easy for Foulkes.

"It's exciting that the show is taking a new direction and I really enjoy the location based work," she says. "I guess there are elements that can be daunting, but I am mainly out on location so I don't get to see the other cast every day.

"But the outdoors stuff is really suited to me, I love doing the location stuff."

While the show has undergone a makeover, Waters says fans should rest assured all the traits that make All Saints enjoyable will stay.

This includes Dr Vlasek rubbing Dr Frank Campion (John Howard) up the wrong way.

"Mike has all the money he needs to start the MRU and Frank's struggling," Waters says.

"Of course, Mike smoozes the administrators to get what he wants and he is poaching Frank's staff, so he won't be happy."

All Saints, Seven, returns February 3, 9.30pm

By Erin McWhirter
January 20, 2009
The Courier-Mail