Five Shortland Street characters we'd like to see return
With the beloved Bella Durville scheduled to make a swift departure from Shortland Street screens after six years on the long-running soap, let's take a minute to remember a handful of other Shorty favourites who left us all too soon.
While the emergency room certainly hasn't been short-staffed over the past 24 years, there are some characters who simply stood out among the rest.
Here are five Shorty St favourites we'd like to see make a welcome return to Ferndale:
1. Gerald Tippett
What we would give to see Gerald back behind front desk. The lively and animated receptionist, and later executive P.A played by Harry McNoughton, arrived in Ferndale in 2007 and enjoyed a six-year run on the local series.
Gerald gained recognition for his complicated LGBTQI storylines, and originally took up residence in El Rancho with his wife Morgan (Bonnie Soper) and best friend, Libby Jeffries (Fleur Saville). During his time on the show, Gerald discovered that he was asexual, and later married bff Libby to secure a US green card, after his first wife Morgan was murdered. Despite a rough patch following Gerald's open heart surgery, Libby and Gerald decided to put their past behind them and live happily ever.
Gerald's roommate Joey Henderson, was eventually revealed as the Ferndale Strangler. For avid fans of the show, Gerald's departure to New York with Libby happened all too soon with little explanation.
2. Stuart Neilson
Before he was a Hollywood mega star, Martin Henderson was the wide-eyed Shortland Street teenager, Stuart. He arrived on the show alongside his mother, Marjorie, in 1992. During his three-year run, Stuart's character explored a number of key storyline themes including mental illness, celibacy, religion and infidelity.
Stuart was originally intended on being the first openly gay Shorty Street character, however TV writers later decided Stuart would be a devout Catholic teenager instead. During the show, Stuart broke his vow of celibacy, had an affair with a middle-aged woman and got into the property market at the tender age of 17. Stuart crashed several weddings before relocating to India and leaving the show for good.
Henderson was praised for his role and later named one of Shortland Street's standout characters during the show's 20th anniversary in 2012.
3. Marjorie 'Marj' Brasch
Majorie 'Marj' Brasch, played by Elizabeth McRae, arrived on the soap as the voice of reason with young son Stuart in 1992.
The mother-of-five became an iconic character in her own right, known for her famous one-liners and sage advice from behind the reception desk. During her lengthy stint on the series, Marj tried her hand at politics, eventually running for local council in 1996. Before long, Marj's political aspirations saw her secure the Ferndale seat in New Zealand Parliament.
Marj eventually grew tired of the day-to-day goings on in the local hospital, and eventually left Ferndale for Wellington in 1998. The iconic character later returned in 2002 and again in 2012, to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary and support Rachel McKenna (Angela Bloomfield) during Chris Warner's scandalous and on-going murder trial.
4. Maia Jefferies
Despite originally receiving mixed reviews, Maia Jefferies (played by actor Anna Julienne) soon became one of the show's most ground-breaking characters. Maia arrived in 2004, with good friend and travel buddy Jay Copeland (Jaime Passier-Armstrong). It soon became apparent to viewers at home that Maia and Jay were romantically involved, and the pair's storyline evolved into Shorty Street's first lesbian relationship.
In a tragic turn of events, Jay was murdered by the Ferndale Strangler and Maia was forced to raise her unborn baby alone. Maia's character enjoyed the first on-screen Civil Union in 2006, a scandalous secret pregnancy with her brother-in-law Mark Weston (Tim Foley), a mental breakdown and a murder cover-up.
After several failed relationships and reconciliations, Maia eventually moved to Sydney with her mother Yvonne and young son, J.J.
Provided Maia is merely living over the ditch, a return to screens could be a likely possibility.
5. Nick Harrison
Clumsy 'bad boy' Nick Harrison, played by Karl Burnett, was first introduced during the soap's debut season in 1992. During his decade on screen, viewers watched Nick fall in love, fall out of love, become a solo father, steal a motorbike and eventually marry his one true love, Waverly Wilson, in 2002. Nick and Waverly's on-again, off-again tryst made them a favourite with local viewers, however the duo were reportedly not invited back to take part in the 20th anniversary reunion episode, much to the disappointed of fans.
After he acquired the local bar, The Dogs Day Inn, Nick discovered the dead body of the previous owner stored in the freezer. After a series of neighbourhood break-ins and a fire at their pub, the Harrisons decided to leave the bright lights of Ferndale for good, and relocate to Taranaki for a quieter, simpler life in 2005.
When Burnett claimed he was not invited to reprise his role for the show's anniversary episode, fans were outraged. A reinvigorated storyline with Nick and former flame Rachel McKenna would no doubt be a winner with loyal Shorty viewers.