Blue Heelers: articles

John Wood

Shocks ahead: Blue Heelers’ Sen-Sgt Tom Croydon (John Wood) is injured in a terrorist attack.

Mt Thomas massacre

THE brutal reality of modern life touches Blue Heelers next week with devastating consequences for the long-running police drama.

An attack by terrorists kills two regular characters and injures a third as producers attempt to give the show an edgier, more unpredictable feel.

It is a development that may shock viewers, but producer Gus Howard said atrocities such as September 11 and the Bali bombings changed the way people thought.

“Since those events, no one really knows who to trust and I think everybody’s parameters of what is reasonable and acceptable have narrowed quite a lot,” Howard said.

The question of how to bring such dangerous uncertainty into Mt Thomas was answered simply—turn the world of Sen-Sgt Tom Croydon, played by John Wood, inside out.

“At the beginning we had a strong storytelling structure and used John Wood’s Tom Croydon character as the leader and the linchpin of every story,” Howard said.

But Howard found that the show’s strength turned into a weakness when they tried to contemporise it.

“In the last 10 weeks of production of last year—the first episodes to go out this year—we tried to find an edginess to get into a darkness, an ambiguity, an uncertainty, but we couldn’t do it because of the story format,” he said. “So we said, ‘What if Tom Croydon had all his certainty taken away? What if Tom Croydon met a force of evil that was so great and his faith in humanity so shattered by a singular event that he could no longer act the way he had acted?’.

“What we decided to do was to start by destroying the police station, killing two people who Tom loved. What Tom decides is to completely turn his back on everything he has ever stood for.”

Wood said he could not be happier with the changes.

“It takes everyone out of their comfort zone and that’s an exciting thing,” Wood said.

“It’s the first time in about eight years I’ve had to go home and think about my character. He’s different, he has changed.

“I used to be able to walk into the room and, no matter what the dialogue was, I knew exactly how Tom felt, what he was doing and who he was. Now I have to give it a lot more thought and that’s very exciting.”

After the bombing, the shocks continue with the murder of another favourite and the introduction of four new cast members: Geoff Morrell (Sgt Mark Jacobs), Rachel Gordon (Sen-Constable Amy Fox), Danny Raco (Probationary Constable Joss Peroni) and Samantha Tolj (Probationary Constable Kelly O’Rourke).

Howard admits he con sidered wrapping up the show at the end of last year. “(Finishing the show) was the first thing I thought of and the last thing I wanted to do,” he said. “The changes are a risk, but one we had to take.”

By Garry Williams
June 27, 2004
The Herald Sun