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Home and Away spoilers follow for UK viewers.
Home and Away introduces an exciting new character on UK screens next week, as former McLeod's Daughters actress Bridie Carter makes her first appearance as Susie McAllister.
Susie is a real estate consultant, who comes to Summer Bay to help Christian Green (Ditch Davey) on a house-hunting mission.
During her visit, Susie strikes up a bond with John Palmer (Shane Withington) and spontaneously asks him out on a date. Could this be John's chance of happiness after his split from Marilyn last year?
Digital Spy recently caught up with Bridie for some early gossip on Susie.
How did it feel to join Home and Away at such a strange time for the industry?
"During a global pandemic when one's vocation is precarious and one's industry is dark, to get a job offer was miraculous and wonderful. I have extreme gratitude and absolute surprise at being offered this role on Home and Away."
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How was the character first described to you?
"I was given a character description to read and then we organised a conference call with the script producer and the series producer. The three of us and my agent all got on this call and had a chat. I remember one of the first things they said was: 'We have had so much fun creating Susie, it has just been a blast!'
"I thought: 'Wow, that's really interesting, tell me more!' On such a long-running series, for people to be so excited about a new character, that got me excited. I was intrigued and taken in from the beginning and she's an intriguing woman – she truly is.
"Not only did we talk about the character, but there was all this logistical discussion on how you shoot during COVID – it's all been very weird!"
Has there been room to put your own stamp on Susie too?
"I think inevitably you always put your own stamp on a character. As a performer you're taking some form of your life, your personal experiences and your insights and putting them into the character. We always talked about Susie's warmth and authenticity and truth.
"I know that was my part of it I suppose – my quality as a performer that worked for her as well. I think inevitably one always put one's own mark on it, but it's not an intellectual move or a statement that one makes, another actress could play it entirely different! That's the great thing about different qualities of actors together, because you get really interesting dynamics.
What can the viewers expect from Susie in the coming weeks?
"When she arrives, the viewers will see a ball of energy and a lot of fun. It'll be a different dynamic, I think. She certainly brings that, so hopefully she'll just be a whole heap of fun to start with and then all sorts of things will happen."
What draws Susie to John? He doesn't always create the best first impression on people, but that doesn't seem to be the case here...
"I don't think Susie is bothered by the little things and isn't bothered with first impressions. I think she sees directly into him and sees this very charming, funny, attractive man.
"She sees his position within the community as someone who's quite established and well liked. She's just very taken by him!"
Do you think they make a good couple?
"I do! I think they make a wonderful couple. I only know that just by the fun that they've had together in scenes. We've just had a lot of fun. Sometimes, you play characters and the relationships you play – sometimes they're hard work or they're difficult or traumatic or there's hurdles to get over.
"That is never the case with these two. There is just so much joy in their relationship and the dynamic that they have together. There was a lot of play and when you're playing as an actor, there's that sense of freedom, which is really great."
Can you tell us a bit about Susie's background and relationship history prior to this?
"She travels from a long, long way away. The west coast to the east coast of Australia is quite a journey. She's someone who really wants a fresh start and I think that says a lot about her and she comes on her own.
"I don't think her relationship history has been that great. She'll bring with her all of what that is – all of that baggage as we all do!
"She's also someone who's not caught up in the past. It's not like she's dragging a huge suitcase of past problems at all. She's actually the opposite to that, she lives for the moment, for the present and I think that will be very apparent."
John has recently come out of a long-term relationship with Marilyn. Could there be some difficulties between them as John adjusts to dating someone new?
"I think it's always tricky if there's a past partner present. Summer Bay is a pretty small place! Stepping on toes is absolutely a possibility. I think as far a Susie is concerned, her conscience is clear – John's single, he's available and she's not doing anything wrong.
"Whatever issues Marilyn may have, I don't think it's any of Susie's business. She's a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it."
Are there any scenes with Susie and Marilyn?
"Yes absolutely! I think there's something really wonderful about women together and the subtext between women and the unspoken words between women. I think that's always very interesting and I think we will see a lot of that."
Even though John and Marilyn had a lot of fan support, are you hoping the viewers get behind this new pairing?
"I just hope it's interesting for the viewers, it's intriguing and we entertain them. That's our job as actors. I don't know what people are going to think. Some people might wish Marilyn and John were still together, some people might love Susie and John together and think 'Thank God he's moved on'. I don't know!
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"People might hate her because she's the new kid on the block and she's taking John's heart. I really don't know, but what I do hope is that for a small moment, we can take people somewhere else and allow them to step into other people's lives. If we do that, we've done our job."
Susie is very open and direct about what she wants – we see that she isn't happy when Irene ends up being a third wheel on her date with John. Did you find that refreshing?
"Totally! It's really great. She's fearless actually, she's quite fearless. In her motives, in the way she operates, in her life and in the world. She's really direct and there is a great freedom in that because I think there's so many social protocols and norms that people don't say what they think.
"I suppose I'm quite like that, that where Susie and I do have a similarity. It's just our lives are very different! I am quite direct as well, and it's very refreshing to see it on screen, to see a woman who's so forthright."
Can you tease how long Susie will be staying around for?
"Well anything can happen in Summer Bay. There's been actors who have been on the show for three decades and there are people who come and go quite swiftly.
"All I can say is I think Susie will always be in front of her audience, she will always be one step ahead and so in that way I think her journey will be intriguing for viewers. Anything could happen, so I'll keep that one up in the air…"
Home and Away airs weekdays at 1.15pm and 6pm on Channel 5 (UK) and Mondays to Thursdays at 7pm on Channel 7 (Australia). Selected classic episodes are available via Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
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