|Shortland Street character|
|Portrayed by||Elisabeth Easther|
|First appearance||6 May 1995|
|Last appearance||July 1996|
|Introduced by||Gavin Strawhan|
|Occupation||Nurse at Shortland Street (1995–96)|
Carla Leach (née Crozier) is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Elisabeth Easther from early 1995 to mid 1996. The character debuted as the sister of established character Ellen Crozier (Robyn Malcolm) and gained notoriety as the show's first ever on screen murderer.
Creation and casting
Carla was created as the estranged sister of Ellen Crozier and Elizabeth Easther was cast in the role. Easther had just graduated from drama school and relished playing a human as her only other television role was that of a dinosaur in an Australian children's show. The role was set for a defined term due to the content of the storyline and as a result Easther ended up leaving after her contract expired, with the characters story coming to an end. Due to the characters psychotic nature, Easther struggled to get work for several years and was even rejected after being cast in a nappie commercial.
Carla arrived to the street in 1995 to visit her estranged sister Ellen (Robyn Malcolm) and soon got a job at the hospital. The two sisters reconciled when Carla fell off a cliff and the staff began to suspect Ellen of pushing her. Carla instantly clashed with Tiffany Pratt (Alison James) and she blackmailed her about her Hepatitis C diagnosis. Carla began to date Ellen's ex-boyfriend Bernie Leach (Timothy Bartlett) and the two soon eloped. Carla spiked Tiffany's drink, leading to her near death in front of a truck and many to turn against Carla. Carla sabotaged a surgery on Tiffany and she once again nearly died, something which Carla blamed on Johnny Marinovich (Stelios Yiakmis). Bernie grew sick of Carla and so she faked a pregnancy to keep him in the marriage however after a minor car crash whilst teaching her niece Minnie (Katrina Devine) to drive, Carla claimed she had miscarried. When Bernie discovered Carla was unable to have children since her teens, he angrily assaulted her and was arrested; Carla went to stay with her mother.
Carla returned in late 1995 and manipulated an abusive parent to drive drunk, causing him to crash into the hospital and kill Carmen Roberts (Theresa Healey). Carla began a relationship with Sam Aleni (Rene Naufahu) and when Bernie returned after being acquitted of assault, she promised she would leave him after taking all his money. However, when an earthquake hit Ferndale and an injured Bernie insulted Carla, she took the opportunity and murdered him with a candlestick, blaming the quake. Many suspected Carla of his death. Eventually, Tiffany and Ellen unearthed evidence Carla had, in fact committed the crime, and Carla confessed. However, due to her fear of losing Sam, she retracted her statement, causing Sam to be arrested instead. While locked up, Sam's grandfather died, and Sam harshly rejected Carla. Carla would return home and slit her wrists. Ellen had her sectioned and when she went to visit her, Carla attempted to murder her. After realising that the institution was not the best option for Carla, she was taken to live with her mother.
The character is remembered as the show's first ever on screen murderer, thus giving her an icon status. The New Zealand Woman's Day magazine listed Carla as the 23rd best character of the soap's first 25 years. Carla was well received by critics with the character being named in an article by Michelle Hewitson for The New Zealand Herald, the 7th best character to feature on the show. Hewitson explained her choice, stating: "she was our very own psycho-bitch; our very own multiple-personality sufferer (all of them psycho-bitches.)" Ana Samaways also praised Carla, calling her a "beaut" when referring to a typical "run-of-the-mill nasty who gets away with it. A character who is related to someone and who makes viewers swing from hatred to understanding." Easther herself did not enjoy her acting throughout her stint and believed she was simply happy to be in the role. The episode airing on 31 May 1995 that saw Tiffany finally confront Carla is the highest rated episode of Shortland Street of all time.
- Good Morning. 22 May 2012. Television New Zealand. TV One.
- Philpot, Chris (22 May 2012). "Shortland St: greatest moments, #20-11". stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media.
- "Carla murders Bernie during the quake". Shortland Street. Television New Zealand. 2004. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- Trevett, Claire (29 October 2005). "Blood in the street lifts soap's death toll to 14". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media.
- "Shortland Street's 25 most memorable characters". Woman's Day. Fairfax Media. 23 May 2017.
- Hewitson, Michelle (16 May 2002). "Shortland Street: The 10 best characters". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media.
- Samways, Ana (28 January 2002). "Soap needs to lighten up to retain its suds". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media.
- Hunkin, Joanna (20 May 2017). "Shortland Street ratings uncovered: The stories that gripped New Zealand". The New Zealand Herald. APN News & Media.