In 1992 Australian soap star Craig McLachlan (Neighbours) landed in NZ, to tackle one of his only starring roles in a movie to date. McLachlan plays Ed — a WWll soldier who goes AWOL — in a story 74-year-old writer James Edwards drew from his own life. When Ed is shipped overseas with no leave, he feels obliged to make sure that his recently pregnant wife Daisy (Katrina Hobbs) is OK before he departs. But then the days become weeks. For director John Laing the road movie offered a chance to explore changing gender roles, as women discovered life beyond house and family.
Debra Kelleher is an award-winning drama and entertainment producer who has worked on both sides of the Tasman. Beginning her career with Grundy Productions, she worked on a number of Australian TV shows including Neighbours, Sale of the Century and Perfect Match. Back in New Zealand, Kelleher has produced everything from Dancing with the Stars and Good Morning, to sci fi hit The Tribe.
After trying on acting and dance at school, Katrina Hobbs scored two big screen roles: playing teen hero in 1990 alien encounter series The Boy from Andromeda, and young wife to deserting WWII soldier Craig McLachlan in Absent Without Leave. Since then her trans-Tasman career has included a variety of presenting roles, a stint on Celebrity Treasure Island, and two years playing doctor Kelly Watson on Home and Away.
After working at the National Film Unit, the BBC and Canada's National Film Board, John Laing made his feature film debut as a director with Arthur Allan Thomas drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980). Since then he has directed another six features, and many television shows and tele-movies. Laing has also produced for both Outrageous Fortune and Mercy Peak.
As cantankerous plumber Max Ramsey, Kiwi Francis Bell was the original patriarch in iconic soap Neighbours. A popular and sought after actor in Australia, Bell had roles in numerous TV staples; he played ‘Pompey’ Elliot in the Anzacs mini-series. In the mid-80s Bell returned home, and in TV3 soap Homeward Bound played Dad to a young Karl Urban. In May 1994, aged 50, he fell from an Auckland building to his death.