The evolution of the performance has gone hand in hand with the evolution of the character.
“The good thing about Boomer is how much she’s grown over the years. She has started to mature, and it throws me sometimes because of the choices that I’m forced to make in scenes: I think, ‘I could’ve gone absolutely nuts there, but that’s not where she’s at now.’ She’s started to really hone what she wants from life, and she’ll pursue it. This is ridiculous, but I feel really proud of her.”
With the premiere of this year’s final season (which will be divided between 2020 and 2021), Wentworth equals the longevity of its predecessor, which ran from 1979 to 1986 – although Wentworth’s 100 episodes will fall a few short of Prisoner’s 692. The fact that so many diehard Prisoner fans have embraced the reboot is testament to the show’s ability to honour the original. Milosevic – who was not allowed to watch Prisoner as a child, when she was, in her own words, “s—scared” of the show – gives props to the writers for achieving this.
“I love the way the writers pay homage to Prisoner throughout the series,” she enthuses. “Sometimes it doesn’t resonate ’til afterwards: ‘Oh, that’s what they’ve done!’ I see the reaction of people who loved it, and I think, ‘What a gift!’”
The success of two series based around one fictional prison is, surely, proof of the strength of the concept, Milosevic asserts. “The concept of Prisoner – a female prison, this hotpot of psychologies and survival instincts and love and friendship and politics – it’s just the perfect concept for a great drama. It’s so cool.”
Having been given the gift of a wonderful character for eight years, it’s only natural for an actor to worry that in the future all that will come her way will be Boomer-alikes. “That thought occurred to me the other day,” Milosevic admits. “I think I’m more afraid that I will never work again. When I was younger I would say yes to a whole lot of stuff because I thought I need to have this experience and I need to be out there. As I get older I’m more aware of time on this earth and I think: I’ve done her, I don’t really want to do that again. I would love to have the opportunity to stretch myself in other ways.”
But what if Boomer got her own spin-off? “Well, that I would do.”
Wentworth (series return) is on Fox Showcase, Tuesday, 8.30pm.
What’s Up With Wentworth? Questions answered
Wait, wasn’t Wentworth over? It was, but thanks to popular demand it has now risen like a phoenix from the ashes, to bring us a much-needed fix of lags, screws and Shakespearean intrigues.
So when WILL it be over? We’ve got 20 episodes left, ten airing in 2020 and ten in 2021, so there is lots more Wentworth to soak up before the end.
What’s new at the prison? Well, following the siege that closed Season 7, a new broom has been put through the facility, with Jane Hall arriving as Governor Ann Reynolds. Old Prisoner fans will remember Reynolds as the distinguished governor with the less silly accent than Erica Davidson. The rebooted Reynolds’ brief is to crack down on the inmates’ shenanigans. Meanwhile, Allie (Kate Jenkinson) is Top Dog, while The Freak is plotting revenge.
Wait… isn’t The Freak dead? You can’t keep a good freak down. The world’s most evil correctional officer (played by Pamela Rabe) had seemed to die at the end of Season 5, but she is back and more determined than ever to crush her enemies. It’s quite a trick to escape being buried alive, but nobody could ever accuse The Freak of not being resourceful.
Are there any other newbies to watch out for? Sure are! Lou Kelly – one of Prisoner’s more weaselly denizens – is reincarnated here by Kate Box as a truly formidable ex-Top Dog who’ll cause all sorts of trouble. Also, anyone who remembers Judy Bryant, the maternal grey-haired American from Prisoner, will be a little startled to meet Judy Bryant, the decidedly un-maternal young British hacktivist who is out to rage against the machine.
Will anyone get slammed in the laundry press? No spoilers, but it just wouldn’t be Wentworth without a few scorched hands, now would it?