Sanity Preserved – How Craig McLachlan Helped Me Survive a Pandemic

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It all started in the 1980’s. Just as half of UK viewers were doing, I watched “’Neighbours” each day. We fell for the smiling, cheeky, curly haired Henry, played by the young Craig McLachlan. Craig thrilled us with his often on view, muscular physique and left us wanting more!

Did I ever think this guy would save my sanity 30 years later? NO, never. Thrill me? YES. Make me wish I lived in Melbourne? YES. But, it never crossed my mind this sensational young man, exactly the same age as my own son, would be a life saver during the 8 months in my home during lockdown and enforced shielding, a time when I would only speak in person to 17 or 18 people in total other than by phone. It would never have crossed my mind that through his incredible acting I would get to know a wonderful group of the nicest, friendliest people it was possible to meet from all corners of the world that was about to change forever or at least for a very long time.

One afternoon in 2013, I chanced upon a new series on BBC TV. The series was called “The Dr Blake Mysteries”. I had missed episode one, but in the second episode, I discovered Dr. Lucien Blake played by Craig McLachlan. Dr. Blake had returned home to Ballarat to run his late father’s medical practice, and there he met Jean Beazley his father’s housekeeper-cum-receptionist. After 5 minutes, I was hooked! I was fascinated! I watched as they sat round the kitchen table and were actually eating the food from the plates. They spoke with food in their mouths, but what clinched it for me was Lucien blowing on his cup of tea, just as I did as a child and still do at times. This was real life stuff. They washed the dishes, and soon even Lucien did too. Well, he dried them. At times, when things did not go to plan, the Doctor was a little sharp and grumpy, and he found it difficult to bear when the established older officials would not accept – that life had changed as hundreds of men returned from a terrible war and where many, like the Doctor, had expected ‘better times ‘ back home after they had been released from the trauma of life of torture and starvation of POW camps. They still found life difficult to cope with and could not speak of the awful times they had endured. So, to forget the horror, they drank as the Doctor did, but he did it by himself in his lonely life.

Later episodes contained historical facts from which often the stories were based, and which were wonderfully acted by Craig and Nadine Garner and many other fine actors. In fact, they became a family and that manifested itself into a wonderful group of fans who became Dr Blake friends. We would watch every episode time and time again. We noticed every small detail of which there were many and that was half the charm of the show. It was so good that we knew the dialogue of each character but mainly the incredible man who carried the show on his very impressive shoulders. This time Craig wasn’t the ever smiling curly hair cheeky guy, but a smooth-haired, bearded man who was serious, kind, and loving, often misunderstood, and a gentle vulnerable man. He was often unable to show his true feelings which made us love him even more. We loved him playing the old piano too, but we prayed he would summon up enough courage to tell Jean he loved her and held our breath in unison as he ‘Nearly Kissed’’ her at times, only to be thwarted by the telephone ringing. Oh the agony would it ever happen!!! Yes! The day of ‘THE KISS’ was a triumph for all of us. There were smiles State side, in UK, in Europe, South Africa. Australia, just everywhere. The world smiled and a huge ‘AT LAST’ was heard . it was perfect.

Of course there were more troubles to come, but at least we got a wedding!. All seemed well with the world, but it wasn’t. The show was suspended, and then Corvid arrived and so did Dr Blake my life saver. I was isolated indoors during the next 8 months, but I had Lucien to keep me company during this time. I know every plot and most of the dialogue, so when Lucien asks questions of the other characters I answer him, and he never complains or tells me to shut up! It makes my day when watching the Fire Station episode for he visits a victim and from another room, shouts ‘PATRICIA. ‘ That’s ‘MY MOMENT.’ I answer him feeling it is just him and me for a few seconds. He doesn’t mind my attempt at an Australian accent, which if the truth was told still sounds very Yorkshire .

So, thank you, Craig for your incredible, totally believable creation Dr Lucien Blake, and for help keeping us sane during this awful time.

Your fan for life,

Patricia Scott

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