Open Air: Australian special

Open Air: Australian special
Access fees

This special edition of Open Air focused on the success of Australian soap operas in the United Kingdom. The Prisoner segment includes phone interviews with actresses Sheila Florance (Lizzie Birdsworth) and Val Lehman (Bea Smith). It aired on 27 April 1989.

Presenter Susan Rae says that 'the wayward women of Wentworth Detention Centre have become 'national heroes', as she introduces an interview with Prisoner club presidents Tracey Elliot and Roz Vecsey, talking about the attention they've received from media, the newsletters and merchandise they produce for UK fans, and the upcoming visit of the show's stars to the UK.

Award winning actress Sheila Florance, who played Lizzy Birdsworth, is interviewed from Melbourne. She says she's been listening to the show: 'I heard Michael Parkinson, who made an absolute fortune in our country. I heard Peter Pinne, who talked a lot of bullshit.'

Journalist Michael Parkinson is dismissive of Prisoner, saying that 'It is popular by two groups of people; those who believe Elvis Presley is alive and working in a bar, and the second group is made up of lady sumo wrestlers and lady weight lifters.' He claims that, in an interview he did with Val Lehman (Bea Smith), she complained about the gay following of the show.

Lehman joins over the phone, and refutes that statement. She says she is appreciative of the gay following of Prisoner, and explains that gay men have always supported shows with strong female characters. She refers to the popularity of US sitcom The Golden Girls, and then speaks about her upcoming tour of the UK.