Blue Heelers: articles

Paul Bishop

Paul Bishop as Sgt Ben Stewart… “I’m very proud of his final scenes.”

Back to the boards

PAUL Bishop is standing next to the stage door of the Victorian Arts Centre in Melbourne, waiting to make his entrance. Buzzing with eager anticipation, the Blue Heelers star is excited and confident about stepping on the stage and into a new career phase.

Bishop, who plays Sergeant Ben Stewart, is leaving the popular police drama after an impressive six-year run.

In that time, Bishop’s character has had to endure the full gamut of soap catastrophes, including a broken marriage, a battle with alcoholism, an affair with the boss’s wife, and having to shoot dead a colleague’s husband.

Ben also famously kissed Mt Thomas princess Maggie Doyle (Lisa McCune) and threatened to break up one of television’s golden couples.

But Bishop insists his alter ego is just a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. “My faith in him has always been great. Even when he’s been in the darkest of times, I’ve always made sure he finds the silver lining in every situation,” Bishop says.

“It’s time to let someone else have a go.”

Born in Gladstone, Bishop stumbled into acting after a mate wrote his name down on an audition list for the school operetta.

The surfing-mad Bishop decided to give it a go for a laugh, but ended up with a career. He graduated from the QUT Academy of the Arts and has appeared in more than 40 professional plays, as well as the 1997 feature film Paradise Road, with Cate Blanchett, and the Ten telemovie Never Tell Me Never, with Claudia Karvan.

He joined Blue Heelers in 1998 at an interesting time in the series’ history. The show had been on for four years and had just moved to an 8.30pm timeslot, allowing it to explore different types of storylines.

The Maggie and PJ romance was at its peak and ratings were equally as hot.

But Bishop says joining such an established show was not as daunting as adjusting to television. “It was like a rush. Suddenly you’re filming 42 weeks of the year, 12 hours a day. The workload is extraordinary and your life really changes,” he says.

Bishop says he was happy with the way his character’s departure was written. “I’m very proud of his final scenes,” he says.

By Erica Thompson
September 30, 2004
The Courier Mail