Wentworth's epic seventh season finale had fans feeling a range of emotions – fear (for Vera's baby's wellbeing), shock (at The Freak's return) and heartbreak (at Lizzie's sad end).
Yep, after seven seasons Liz (Celia Ireland) has left Wentworth, put to rest by Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) following a tragic battle with dementia.
TV WEEK went to meet Celia, tissues in hand, to chat about saying goodbye to her much-loved motherly character.
Oh, Celia. What a heartbreaking end to Liz's story. How are you feeling about it all?
It is really, really sad. I mean, what a journey! I look back and I think of each story and it's been filled with emotion, and love, and upset, and alcoholism and loss. It's been a wild, wild ride.
Did you know this is how Liz's story would end?
For me, having lived inside Liz's skin, particularly for seasons six and seven which, was this real rollercoaster of emotional stuff with Sonya, and Liz's fear and paranoia starting, then getting the diagnosis of dementia and having a little bit of a reprieve with the drugs from Dr Miller… I guess, the short answer is, I knew [her death] was on the cards. It was hard, but I think I was ready because the character was ready.
It does, yes...
I had to live through that with Liz, so by the time she dies, it's a tremendous relief, really. I think Liz herself was well and truly ready.
Was there ever a chance that Liz could make it out of this battle?
At the end of season seven, I spoke to [Head Writer] Pino [Almento] and said, "Look, regardless of whether the show goes again, I feel as though the story has served Liz really well. I don't know what else you could do with her… I don't know that you could have a miracle cure – it wouldn't be truthful. It wouldn't be fair. It wouldn't be right to people living with young-onset dementia, because it moves very swiftly." I was ready. Liz was ready.
How does the show continue without Liz?
It's extremely sad, but it will free up the story, particular for Boomer, and it'll free up the story for other things to happen for the next 20 episodes. By the time season eight airs, people will be totally ready for a new adventure.
What did you think of the decision to have Boomer end Liz's life?
We've seen Liz say to Boomer several times, "When it gets really bad, will you help me?" Of course, Boomer freaks and doesn't want to know about it. It's a nasty request for anybody, I'm sure, to have someone say, "Will you help me end my life?" But I think it was really apt that it was Boomer, particularly as season seven they had this whole exploration of what it meant to be a mother…
Was it nice to have that final scene be with Katrina?
I'm pleased that the writers honoured that. If I think about it too much, I'll start crying. It's incredibly moving.
It's a very courageous thing for Boomer to do…
I think what's hard for Boomer is that she's had this tremendous connection to Liz and then, of course, she's asked to do the most difficult thing, which is to love her completely and let her go. And free her from what's going on. I actually think it's really a beautiful way to go and I honestly could not see how they could have kept doing.
What do you think Liz's death will mean for the ladies of H Block? She was the glue that held them all together…
Oh, definitely. The writing was really clever because what they distinctively did was make her more childlike, so the dementia kind of made her less of a mother figure. I think the other characters had weaned themselves off needing her. I think to go out at the end of the season is quite good. It's a powerful full stop, if that makes sense?
How will you remember your time on Wentworth?
It's been a challenging show to be a part of, but hugely rewarding. I look back and feel really deeply proud of the work I've done and the collaboration every day on set with the crew and the cast and the directors and the writers – you're part of an enormous, really wonderful alchemy of all those factors coming together. It's been a grand adventure and an absolute challenge and now I feel like there's nothing I couldn't do.
Will you continue to watch the show?
I'm sure I'll continue to watch because I'm invested in it – you're part of the fabric of the place, even though your character's not there anymore. Maybe Tammy and I will get together and have a little showing every week? I think I will have major FOMO – and Fear Of Missing Out is a very real thing, I can tell you! So I will probably be quite cagey in October when they go back to work and I'm not there.
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