edenstreet.net talk to Les Dayman
He was the backbone of the E Street community, fighting for justice and determined that good would overcome evil. He was George Sullivan, head of the Westside police force and love of Martha's life. Les Dayman, the actor behind Sgt Sullivan stayed with E Street from its beginning to its end and took the time to share some memories with us...
Which cast members were you closest to and are you still in touch with any of the cast?
In the early days of E Street, especially 1989, I had a number of cast members and partners at my wedding, but enduring relationships are hard to maintain after the end of such a show. I see Penny Cook now and then and Warren Jones also, but I’ve had most professional and personal contact with Noel Hodda, the miscreant husband of Dr. Elly. Noel has written some excellent plays for the theatre which I’ve performed in on several occasions in readings.
Which storylines have stuck in your mind over the years as favourites?
One of the best storylines I was involved in was featured early in E Streets’ run – where George’s old mate, a retired police officer of high rank is found guilty of a crime – a hit and run I think! George found out and was in an awful dilemma, turned back to the booze but bounced back after doing what he had to do…
Later on the Sonny Bennett characters presence provided a lot of good material involving George. Overall there were all the scenes with Cecily Polson, whom I’ve not seen in several years – ironically, I’ve met her husband Peter Gwynn at casting sessions several times of recent years…he coincidently was the rogue cop in the early episode I described above!!
E Street had a shaky start, but pretty soon established itself as a serious drama, which tackled serious issues. Around the Sonny Bennett saga the show had really taken off. How did it feel to be part of the cast at that time when E Street’s popularity was at its peak?
A very intense period of solid work, very focused work by everyone. Public recognition in London during a Christmas holiday in 1992 was extraordinary high especially since it was shown on Mr Murdoch’s Sky channel.
One of the most popular and celebrated relationships was that of George and Martha. Did you enjoy working with Cecily Polson?
Cecily and I had a lovely warm relationship without a moment’s tension in our work together and with others involved in our themes. She’s the sort of actor it’s great to have both for their skills and personality.
When you were in E Street I guess you were spotted by fans whilst out living your every day life! Were you ever mobbed?!
One of the more hilarious consequences of public recognition was the fact I was often mistaken for Brian Wenzel, who was in the long running TV show ‘A Country Practice’ and vice versa. We’re about the same age, both playing police sergeants in small communities – we both came from Adelaide in South Australia, where we were in amateur theatre back in the early 60s. We were good mates and saw lots of each other socially. He seems to be out of the business – now leaves in Melbourne to be close to his favourite football team!!
Were you shocked when E Street came to an end? Did you have any warning the show would be finishing or did it come out of blue? What was the last say on set like?
Things were ‘wobbly’ towards the end of 92 – relationships between the production company making the show and Channel 10 network were strained. We resumed shooting late January 93, but were quickly informed we were closing in May – something happened and the show was wrapped up in two weeks!!
Yes it was a shock – however Vic Rooney and I were cast soon after in the Sydney Theatre Company production of Arthur Millers great play ‘The Crucible’ which ran for long seasons though 93 and 94.
Last day on set was business as usual – glum drinks up in the office area – they too were out of a job..
We like to believe E Street still exists. What do you think George is up to these days?
I believe he’s stayed off the booze – I reckon he and Martha go to Surfers Paradise to catch the sun – unlike my wife and I who love Europe and the UK. We’ve stayed with friends at Broadstairs in Kent several times in the lat 10 years en route to France and Germany etc.
What have you been up to since E Street finished?
Up to 1999 I was in pretty continuous work in TV, Film and theatre. This included guest roles in TV dramas such as ‘All Saints’; a hospital drama, ‘Stingers’; a crime show shot in Melbourne, and our longest running cop show ‘Blue Heelers’, which has just finished an extraordinary long run of 8 years.
Movies include ‘Oscar and Lucinda’ – 1996, ‘Holy Smoke’ – 1999 and recently, late 2005 some Australian Broadcasting Commission (our equivalent of the BBC) made films for television – crime thrillers, family comedy with a hard edge. A movie about race relations, made last year, has not been released, I suspect because there have been a few nasty race confrontations around Sydney recently. I’m hoping for more work with the ABC as most of our dramas are winding down – no overseas sales alas!!
Any comments you’d like to make about E Street..
If E Street had been on air with either the BBC or ITV in Britain, instead of the Sky Channel, at the time in 1992, there would have been bigger exposure (not many dishes in Britain at that time), probably leading to overseas sales in Europe where other Australian shows had performed well.
Many thanks to Les Dayman for taking time to do this interview and sharing some wonderful stories with us.