Every TV show that Bridie Carter has worked on has something she likes to keep. She has two chairs from the television show Above The Law, which gave her her first “big break,” on the verandah of her farm close to Byron Bay. She still owns the hat and riding boots she used to portray Tess in McLeod’s Daughters, of course.
She tells TV WEEK from her farm, “I’ll always hang onto them.”
I must admit that they both look pretty worn out, but I still wear them both.
Additionally, Bridie has kept every issue of TV WEEK with her on the front cover.
She says, “They’re in a box in a container shed on my farm.” “I have a tonne of memorabilia.” It’s just such beautiful material to reflect on.
52-year-old Bridie was raised in a “really creative family” in Melbourne with a gallery director for a mother. Bridie, who loves Australian TV dramas, has always wanted to act and enrolled in drama classes at the age of six.
“A Country Practice was huge for me when I was a little girl… I can still remember beingg my parents to let me stay up to watch Prisoner, she recalls.
She got a few TV spots, including one for Omo, before landing her first speaking part in Neighbours.
She recalls, “I stole someone’s watch!” I had few lines because I was 18 and afraid.
Years later, after completing her studies at NIDA, Bridie was chosen to play Senior Constable Debbie Curtis in Above The Law. Nicholas Bishop and Kristy Wright also starred in the drama series, which was about an inner-city apartment building with a police station on the ground level. When it was cut, according to Bridie, it was a “huge shoc.”
We arrived for our read-through for our upcoming episode while we were in the tenth month of filming, and they told us to leave since the show had been cancelled.
After travelling to the US while feeling “a bit adrift,” Bridie fell in love with the Los Angeles “health food and yoga” scene.
I overstayed my welcome, maxed up all of my credit cards, and returned to my little, poorly-functioning rental apartment in Clovelly, Sydney. She recalls, “I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent.
Then my agent called and said, “Oh, there’s this programme. It takes place in Adelaide and is about women riding horses. And I remember thinking, “Oh, right, OK.”
McLeod’s Daughters was that programme, and it would drastically alter Bridie’s life. She recalled being asked during the tryouts whether she preferred the part of Tess, her half-sister, or rural girl Claire McLeod.
I remarked, “Look, both, probably, but I think my heart is with Tess.” I adored Tess’s journey from the city to the country.
After Lisa Chappell was chosen for the role of Claire, Bridie and Lisa were sent out to a horse camp before filming ever started.
She was with me in a caravan when we asked ourselves, “Where the hell are we and what are we doing?” However, we had one another. ”
The numbers for McLeod’s, which debuted in August 2001, made it clear that the programme was a success. However, Bridie and Lisa didn’t realise how popular it was until the next year’s TV WEEK Logie Awards because they were filming on a farm north of Adelaide and “worked our butts off the whole year.”
“Lise and I went together in the limo, and all we heard were the spectators’ cheers outside…” Oh my goodness me, people really appreciate this, was how the first Logies made me feel. It was wonderful to know that what we were doing truly meant something to individuals, and that was fairly exciting.
Another “wonderful” experience for Bridie was being featured on the inaugural TV WEEK cover with Nick actor Myles Pollard.
I believe that many actors struggle with self-doubt. That kind of response to the job you’re doing is positive. I feel like I’m moving in the correct direction.
For three seasons, Lisa and Bridie shared the screen. Because “we’re both incredibly powerful women and we’re really different,” Bridie acknowledges that there were moments when they didn’t get along, but they also felt a “fierce sisterly protection” for one another.
Even in the tough days on McLeod’s, or even after, she warns, “Don’t speak a bad word about her because I’ll murder you!”
Bridie still gets emotional while discussing the scene where Claire dies by falling over a cliff after making sure baby Charlotte is safe, nearly 20 years later.
There were times when the entire crew was in tears, she said. “The director simply let me leave.” It was quite raw.
After three seasons, Bridie decided to leave the show on her own. By that time, she had wed fashion designer Michael Wilson, and their son Otis had been born. Otis was just a month old when Bridie returned to McLeod’s. Otis would be brought to the set by Michael and his mother so that Bridie could nurse him.
It was difficult, she admits, and in the end, that was one of the main reasons I left when Otis was about one year old because it was simply too much. I should have taken a genuine maternity break, in retrospect.”
Toby, Bridie’s second son, describes her as a “fierce, hands-on mother.”
Otis accompanied me on every work until he was four years old, so I never left him overnight. My mothering is a huge part of me because I lost my mother when I was so little.
Bridie and Michael were inspired to purchase their own farm after spending time on the farm where McLeod’s was filmed. For both of them, it was a significant change in lifestyle, and Bridie still finds it amazing.
“Oh my God, this is so bizarre,” I still think as we fix fences. I feel like I’m part of a story!
Even though McLeod’s ended in 2009, Bridie was once again featured on the series’ TV WEEK cover in 2019 when the cast came again for a special occasion.
“That blew me away,” she remembers saying.
“TV WEEK has always been such a strong advocate for McLeod’s.” We wrote the story, which was incredibly thrilling, but the fact that we were featured on the cover and I was on it… For me, it was evidence of the show’s success both then and today, as well as of its enduring power.
Of course, Bridie has since made numerous other TV appearances. She has twice competed on Dancing With The Stars (winning once), co-starred in the comedy-drama 800 Words with Erik Thomson, and portrayed the villainous Susie McAllister in Home And Away.
Being granted the role of Susie so soon after COVID became popular was, in Bridie’s words, “like a miracle.” The chance to work with Shane Withington, who she had enjoyed watching play Brendan Jones on A Country Practice all those years before, was also exciting.
Pretty incredible stuff, she exclaims.
As so many individuals have told Bridie how much McLeod’s has meant to them, she told Shane how much A Country Practice had meant to her while they were on the Summer Bay set.
“I frequently experience somebody hugging me, holding my hand, and gazing intently into my eyes. I understand that because the show completely entered people’s hearts,” she claims.
Despite Susie being gone, Bridie would be more than pleased to resume her role as Irene on Home And Away alongside Shane and the “beautiful” Lynne McGranger.
“We had the finest time, and Lynne, Shane, and I were brainstorming ways for Susie to return. ‘ People come back from the dead in a soap opera! She has a sister who is a twin!
She would also adore the opportunity to portray Tess McLeod once more.
Tess will always be inside of her, she declares. “I hope she is able to come out once more someday.” We shall see. But until the day I pass away, she will always be a part of me.