Farewell to All Saints

As Nurse "Von Ryan" leaves All Saints, Judith McGrath ends an 11-year run with the Seven soap.

This week Australian television viewers bid a fond, if somewhat reluctant, farewell to All Saints.

The Channel Seven soap has been with us for 11 years and 12 seasons. But as production costs increased and Seven met its drama quota with Packed to the Rafters, Home and Away and City Homicide, something had to budge.

Actress Judith McGrath, still the show's only original character, suitably becomes the focus of the show's exit as Nurse "Von Ryan" departs the Western General hospital.

"I felt part of the joint many days," she says. "I just remained a stalwart I think…"

Across its years the show has brought us memorable Australian actors including John Howard, John Waters, Tammy MacIntosh, Andrew Supanz, Virginia Gay, Kip Gamblin, Georgie Parker, Erik Thomson, Libby Tanner, Celia Ireland, Wil Traval, Jolene Anderson, Christopher Gabardi, Belinda Emmett and Mark Priestley.

McGrath says the show's quality actors, emergency cases and personal lives of its central characters was a winning combination. "Von Ryan" was always the last to bring her personal life into the workplace.

"I decided very early on Von wouldn't have a personal life. I thought 'No, don't let them know much about her at all'. So it was even good towards the end when you'd find things out about her. And that was after 10 years or something. So I thought that was quite interesting," she says.

"I remember they were going to give Von a romance and at that point everybody on the ward was doing it. Dear God, it was probably close to The Bold and the Beautiful with how many beds you could sleep in. So I went up and I said 'Look, there's got to be one person here who isn't doing it. Could that be me, please?'

"And of course I never got a romance from then on!" she laughs.

"There were a couple of flickers when a couple tried to arrange a date between Von and somebody but I missed out all the way along, and I feel very clean about that."

Some of McGrath's final scenes include a celebration at the hospital's local drinking hole, Cougars, much to Von Ryan's dismay. She looks back on the final scenes with a mix of affection and endurance.

"I used to say 'Don't send Von to Cougars. She wouldn't want to be in there!'

"But it's for numbers, you know. So I'd sit in Cougars while all the young ones did all the acting. I just had to sit there for hours and hours. Hopefully with the relative look on my face like I'm hating this."

Long days were part of the All Saints routine, as they are on any television drama. McGrath says the location scenes were always the most testing.

"They're always terrible. You get a script for a wedding or a funeral and you think 'Oh no this is going to be hell'. And it is. Because you sit around for hours and hours. It goes on and on and on," she says.

"Give me a one to one storyline anytime."

All Saints finale airs 9:30pm Tuesday on Seven.

What will you miss most on All Saints? Share your favourite moments below or discuss the show in the forum now!

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