Let the Blood Run Free
The show was originally conceived as a live weekly event for the upstairs venue Le Joke of the Melbourne comedy venue The Last Laugh. Tory McBride, then the associate producer of comedy at the Last Laugh, came up with the concept and the title and in association with comedy director, John Thomson, put together the team which was to become The Blood Group. The show was very loosely scripted and then improvised on stage, with two planned storylines depending on live audience voting.
The live Le Joke version, which had a continuous weekly run for about a year, was a success with audience members returning every Thursday evening to see the next episode. Before long, it had become too big for the 100-seat Le Joke theatre, and was moved downstairs for several seasons on the main stage of the Last Laugh.
There was also a radio version of the show.
Let The Blood Run Free was subsequently picked up for television and 26 episodes were produced using a number of the storylines developed during the stage shows. They aired in Australia from 20 August 1990 to 22 January 1994 and in the UK on Channel 4 from 29 August 1992 to 7 January 1995. The show featured the original cast including Kath & Kim actor Peter Rowsthorn in the early role of hospital orderly Warren Cronkshonk.
It is thought to be one of the first interactive television series ever made - in keeping with the live version, at the end of each episode the viewers could vote by telephone to decide the direction the storylines would take. It was also unusual in its lack of respect for television conventions, breaking the fourth wall by turning to the camera and directly addressing the viewers.
The stories were as over-the-top as the acting; Pam and Ray discovering they are brother and sister - just after they get married and Pam announces her pregnancy; Effie being run over by St Christopher in a VW campervan and squashed flat, only to be brought back from the dead in Series 2 by Ray and her boyfriend Warren; Matron Dorothy Conniving-Bitch teaming up with her long-lost axe-murdering lover Bill Schwarzenhameneggenberger to destroy Pam and Ray's relationship; the vampire Carla Laboumdier falling for Ray, meanwhile stalking the staff, until her eventual staking by Ray.
Both Series 1 and Series 2 are available on DVD in Australia, each season occupying a two-disc set.
In keeping with the spoof nature of the series each character had a name that was either a pun or extreme.
- Nurse Pam Sandwich - who became Pam Good-Sandwich on marrying Ray and Pam Good-Lovechild-Sandwich on marrying Richard - as played by Jean Kittson
- Dr. Ray Good as played by Brian Nankervis
- Dr. Richard Lovechild as played by David Swann
- Matron Dorothy Conniving-Bitch as played by Lynda Gibson
- Warren Cronkshonk as played by Peter Rowsthorn, who also played axe-murderer Bill Schwarzenhameneggenberger
- Inspector George Slabb - pronounced Slab-ub, because of the double "b" - as played by Mark Cutler. Cutler originally played Richard in the stage version, but was unavailable for the start of the TV series, hence the casting of Swann in the role.
- Nurse Effie Shunt as played by Helen Knight, who also played Dr Angie Travers and Matron's long-lost daughter Moon Unit.
- Matthews, Kate. "Let the Blood Run Free (1990 - 1992)". Australia's audio and visual heritage online. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- "Brian Nankervis". National Film and Sound Archive. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Wallace, Mark (20 August 1990). "Something different for Monday nights". The Age. p. 4. Retrieved 12 September 2018 – via Trove.
- Juddery, Mark (6 January 1991). "Looking back over some TV oddities in the past 12 months". The Canberra Times. p. 16. Retrieved 12 September 2018 – via Trove.