Seventeen years after Ailsa died in Home And Away, Judy Nunn has revealed what she really thought of the way her character was written out. Her character suffered a heart attack in the 2000 season finale after exerting herself lifting heavy boxes.
“I was very irritated,” the 72-year-old tells TV WEEK. “And this is the first time I’ve ever, ever admitted it.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the script. I thought, ‘Oh, come on, mate. After a solid 12 years, she has this stupid little heart attack or she’s seen clutching her chest?’ I felt very let down by the powers-that-be, actually.
“It was just, ‘OK, you’re out with the trash now.’”
Judy says she loved Home And Away and “adored” Ray Meagher, who played her husband, Alf.
But after nearly 13 years as Ailsa, she was feeling “a bit artistically stifled”.
So much so, she spent her last eight years on the show writing novels – even during wedding and funeral scenes.
“I’d be scribbling away on the back of my script, then they’d call, ‘Action!’” she remembers. “I’d sit on the script and off I’d go and cry accordingly.”
The actress-turned-author has now sold more than a million books worldwide and has just published novel number 14, Sanctuary.
“It’s about nine people, seeking refuge from conflict, whose rickety boat brings them to a deserted island off the WA coast,” she reveals.
“It is, above all, meant to be about human beings, showing the human face of literally everybody.”
One of the people she turned to when researching the book was her former co-star Vanessa Downing, who played Pippa.
“Vanessa is now a lawyer, and she’s been working with refugees,” Judy explains.
“She was very helpful.”
Although Judy says it was “hysterical” returning to Home And Away as a ghost, she says it would be “stupid” to go back now.
However, she’d be up for a “you-beaut guestie” in another show.
“I wouldn’t want [to do] a long-running series again,” she says. “The books are too important to me.”