Jane Allsop has a special following, not to mention a huge one. Her legion of fans are among the most dedicated in the land, and all were shattered by her departed from Australia’s best drama, Blue Heelers. And she went out in spectacular fashion. It made the fans cry buckets, and, next to Maggie Doyle’s death, it was probably the saddest.
Jane Claire Allsop was born on July 3, 1975, in Oxford, England. It was a stark contrast to the sunny Australia she lives in today, but Jane and her family, consisting of her mother Helen and father John, a surgeon, were not to stay in dreary England for long. During Jane’s first few years of life, the family moved regularly overseas, living in Boston in the US for a short time too, ironically, next door to a cop. When Jane was two and a half, the family moved to Melbourne, Victoria, settling in the suburb of Mont Albert.
As a child, Jane attended Strathcona Primary School, and it was while she was a student there that her love for acting and drama came about. When she was just nine years of age, she began drama lessons in the near by suburb of Box Hill, and at thirteen earnt five hundred dollars by appearing in a Wedgewood Pie commercial wearing a bright green swim suit. This was Jane’s first tantalizing taste of show biz, and she didn’t stop from then on.
She was a student at Melbourne Girls Grammar during her teen years, and upon completion of school she briefly studied Arts at university, but found it wasn’t her thing. Luckily for her, in 1995, she was accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts, where she studied the visual and performing arts for the next three years. It was during her time here that she made her mark on the Australian television industry, making guest appearances in successful Australian soaps and dramas such as Neighbours, Halifax FP, State Coroner and, ironically, Blue Heelers, where she played Angie Anderson in the season 4 episode titled ‘Fool For Love’. She also scored herself a guest role in the telemovie which starred Rebecca Gibney and Jacqueline McKenzie, Kangaroo Palace, where she played the role of a dancing girl named Cecily.
In late 1998, upon completion of her degree, Jane taught drama briefly, but when, in 1999, it was announced that Tasma Walton, who played Dash McKinley on Blue Heelers, was set to leave the show, Jane struck it lucky and landed the role of Jo Parrish, the cop who would replace Dash in the Mt Thomas station. Jane’s then blonde locks looking too much like Lisa McCune’s, she was asked to dye her hair a deep brown, and that was how viewers came to recognize Jane. She began filming in May of 1999.
She flittered onto our screens on August 18, 1999, in episode 239, ‘Hello Goodbye’. Jo bought a needy ex boyfriend with her and found herself in the middle of an ESD investigation on her first day. This did not sit well with the Boss, but Jo’s strong will and dedication saw her through, and she became the Jo Parrish we all still so fondly remember.
The character of Jo instantly warmed fans, and warmed hearts too – notably that of her colleague – Jack Lawson. Over the years, Jo would be involved with many a men, ranging from Andrew the ex to Guy the reporter to our very own Senior Detective PJ Hasham! Jo had a history of picking the wrong men, at the wrong time, and this made fans all the more sympathetic.
When in early 2000, Maggie Doyle, Jo’s colleague and close friend, was murdered, the impact hit Jo like a freight train. She turned to Jack for comfort and it was soon obvious they were over their attractions for each other, and were more of a brother sister team now. The arrival of Tess Gallagher (played by Caroline Craig), the sergeant who replaced Maggie, well and truly meant the end of any attractions Jo and Jack may have shared anyway.
Tess and Jo often fought for opposite sides, with Jo being the compassionate copper and Tess the young sergeant who, Jo often thought, thought she ruled the world. It was Jo who gave Tess the name of the Ice Queen, and it meant the character of Jo will long be remembered for her humour and ability to laugh.
In 2002, things began to slowly develop with the handsome detective of the station, and the former love of Maggie Doyle, PJ Hasham. And it would be the persistence of Maggie forever on PJ’s mind that would be the breaking point of the PJ and Jo relationship, but that was not to occur until mid 2004. PJ and Jo embarked on a hot and cold relationship for years, at times frustrating Jo, and causing many tears. When in the 2002 season finale of Blue Heelers, PJ informed Jo that he simply didn’t love her, viewers heart strings were tugged in a big way.
But 2003 bought better things for Jo’s love life, and in the episode titled ‘Thicker than Water’, PJ at last admitted his love for her, after almost losing her to a family of troublesome kidnappers. In June of 2004, Jo felt her clock ticking and informed PJ she wanted a child before her opportunity to become a mother passed her by. Unsure of this huge move, PJ showed Jo little support, and when Jo briefly thought she was pregnant, but then discovered it was a false alarm, Jo was shattered, but viewers could not help but feel PJ felt a sense of relief. In episodes following this, PJ and Jo struggled with their emotions and feelings for each other, especially when an old case involving Maggie popped up again, stirring PJ’s memories of his past love back into life. When Jo lay beside him and heard him whisper Maggie’s name in a tearful dream, she knew it wasn’t meant to be. She could not be Maggie, and she called off their engagement, much to the deep disappointment of viewers.
In other areas, Jo advanced in rank, and in 2004 became senior constable. But this was not her only job. She took it upon herself to play match maker with Susie and Jonesy, and surrogate mother to wayward teenager, Sam Baxter. Perhaps it was her caring nature that was the end of her. In the episode titled ‘End of Innocence’ which screened to audiences on July 7, 2004, Jo, struggling with her emotions over losing PJ and being alone, remained in the station while her colleagues all bustled out. She was soon joined by Clancy. Concerned for Clancy, a mentally disabled friend of all the coppers, Jo lost her life at his side, as the station exploded, in a rare act of terrorism in the small Victorian town.
Viewers will forever remember July 7 as the day that changed the face of Blue Heelers. Not only was Jo gone, but so was the Mt Thomas police station. It was the end of an era, and Jo was not part of the new era. The loss was made even sadder by the lack of grief shown by PJ, and the Boss, over Jo’s death. She seemed forgotten, yet the storylines today still reflect the tragedy that took place on July 7, so viewers have most certainly not forgotten her.
Jane’s decision to leave Blue Heelers, after 5 years on the set, came as a shock to all her fans, and they missed her the moment she was gone. Jane had aspirations to pursue film and writing areas though, particularly in that of a film script she has written, titled ‘Willow Boy’, and felt it was her time. She bid farewell to the cast and crew of Heelers, and continues to live in Melbourne with her partner, fellow actor, David Serafin. Viewers are looking forward to seeing her on their screens again as she now has a semi regular spot on a new Seven program, Last Man Standing, which is set to premiere in late 2005.
Jane leaves Blue Heelers with fond memories of winning the Best New Female Talent Logie she won in 2000, voted by the fans, and the extraordinary friendships and connections she made with the cast and crew during her time on the set. She also holds an impressive list of credits, which include a guest appearance on comedy duo Lano and Woodley’s show, the incredible opportunity to run with the Olympic torch in the lead up to the Sydney Games, a primary role in the film ‘Guru Wayne’ in 2002, another film, titled ‘The Season’ also made in 2002 and numerous charity endeavours, including the Good Friday Appeal, which has concreted her heart of gold.
The fans still remain as present as ever, and campaigned to get Jane a much deserved silver Logie in 2005 for her final portrayal of Jo Parrish in 2004. She unfortunately missed out on the prize, but was honoured simply to be nominated. In 2006 Jane and her partner Dave welcomed their first child, a boy, Indiana.
For photos and more information, head to http://janeallsopfan.com