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The Blue Heelers video (1997) : John Wood

John Wood

Interviewer: What do you think makes the show so popular?

John: Oh it's a whole range of things, I mean er ... I think the original concept of the show was very well done, I mean I think (writer) Tony Morphett actually got the character mix right.  Umm ... I think the scripts are basically very good, um ... and the casting of the show was amazingly good, really, when you, like ... I wouldn't have said that, you know like, getting the job I wouldn't have said something like that, but er, having been in the job for 3 years, I mean the balance of the casting is very very good.  And of the central cast, it's extraordinary.

But I, I mean I think the characters are very appealing, you know, the fact that it's in a country town, there's a sort of nostalgia value about it.  People, most Australians sort of think of themselves as bush people, and therefore country town people.  I mean the truth is we all live on the coast and aren't, but ahh, there's that nostalgia value I think people of my generation have, and older people, for the time when you know, they live in a town, or in a place, where they can go down to the shops and leave the door open and, you know, everything would be okay, and Mt Thomas I think as a place has that sort of appeal, you know.  I think people believe they can ahh, go down to the shops and leave their door open.

Mind you it has the highest crime rate in Australia, (laughs) I think, Mt Thomas, I would.  It started off as a very, very lovely little rural area and now it's, you know, more murders and rapes per square inch than anywhere in Australia.

I: Do you think that um, here in a show like Blue Heelers set in a place like Mt Thomas, there's actually a kind of sense of community, that we're losing out there in the real world?

John: (nods)  Well I think that's one of the big appeals, I mean I guess you just said more succinctly what I was trying to say yeah, that sense of community is er ... it's something that I think we all hanker for, you know ... and it's, it is rapidly disappearing in the cities.  As, you know, as our extended families and stuff you know, like, like the cast of Blue Heelers is sort of like an extended family in a way, and I think *that* ... that actually sort of comes through on the screen you know, there's a great deal of warmth and affection that actually, comes over.  I think the fact you know that, we like each other and obviously enjoy what we're doing, ahh, comes through the screen for some reason.  I don't know how it does, through all that electronic gear, you know, but it gets there.

''You develop a degree of respect for what they have to do''

I: What about the idea of cop shows, 'cause they've always been popular.  What do you think attracts people to that kind of, that genre?

John: Umm, I think, well for a start, I mean Tony Morphett once said that you know, a story walks in the door every five minutes, you know, which is true, and in real life, you know, we don't live in that sort of dramatic world that the police live in.

I: Okay, the phrase "Cops with heart."  What does it mean to you?

John: Well basically it just means cops who actually care about what they're doing, in my view, you know like it's, cops as members of the community, um ... cops that you can look up to.  Ahh and I think, you know, like I think when I was a kid, you know, the police would ahh, basically give you a kick in the bum and send you on your way and er, I think that's the sort of attitude that Tom has.  You're not allowed to do it anymore, it's, it's not on to do stuff like that but I think um ... maybe, maybe it would be a better place if it could just be done like that, instead of ... you know, that being considered as gross assault.  Um ... you know I'm not suggesting for a moment that cops should be free to, knock people around, but I think that's one of the appeals of this show is that, our cops don't knock people around.

I: So if Tom was your local copper, you'd be happy.

John: I think so, yeah, I think I'd be very happy.  (Laughs)  I'm only, you know, our local coppers are okay.  (Opens his mouth as if to say something)

I: Last question, sorry, do you want to go —

John: No no, I was just going to say, playing a copper, you know like, you actually develop a relationship with, ahh, the police, that you know, you never have.  And you develop a degree of respect for what they have to do.  I mean you know they do a, an incredibly crappy job, really, you know, like under fairly poor conditions and they, er you know we have, in many ways, ridiculous expectations of their abilities.  And you know, like ... you know, a really simple thing, like go and break up a domestic dispute, now don't hurt anybody, don't ... do anything you know, but then people are trying to kill each other with axes and stuff, you know ... so what do you do?

I mean you know we expect an awful lot of them.  And especially of young cops, you know who come out of the academy and, you know like, they're suddenly thrust into a world of, terrible crime ... and ahh, and really scummy people, I mean there are some scummy people out there that they have to deal with and we expect them to take care of it.  They're sort of like our moral — I was going to say moral guardians, which is er, I guess, we treat them more like moral garbage collectors, in a sense.  (Shrugs)

I: Finally, will Nick get his promotion?

John: Does he want it?  (Laughs)  What does he want to be promoted to?  He will.  Eventually.  No, not if, not if I live.  (Laughs)

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