After an emotionally crippling plot twist of Game of Thrones proportions, Wentworth returns for its fifth season without its beloved protagonist Bea Smith.
Fans were left reeling when the gritty prison drama’s fourth season ended with a Shakespearean tragedy that saw Bea (Danielle Cormack) take her last breath as girlfriend Allie Novak jolted back to life moments after it was thought she had died from a drug overdose at the hands of Joan “The Freak” Ferguson (Pamela Rabe).
No one was more devastated about Bea’s death and Cormack’s subsequent departure than Perth actress Kate Jenkinson, who plays Allie on the award-winning pay-TV series.
“I feel like I am more devastated than anyone,” the WAAPA graduate said.
“I just really like her, and I love what she brings to the show and so very selfishly I felt like I was really going to miss having her presence as a person and as an actor on the show. I feel like no one is going to miss that character more than me.”
I feel like I am more devastated than anyone. Kate Jenkinson
Jenkinson said Bea’s untimely demise drove her into a real state of mourning, so much so that she wound up channelling her grief into her performance.
“Not only was I invested in the Bea and Allie storyline because I play Allie, but Danielle and I became such fast friends that I felt a real mourning of her not being a part of the show anymore,” she said.
“This is so cheesy to admit but I remember having to film a scene halfway through season five, but I had to be very upset and I went back and I watched a YouTube video of Bea’s death.
“It upset me to the point that I was able to go into my scene and be very convincing. So I used my own material to upset myself.”
The cast were given little forewarning of Bea’s death at the end of season four, which Jenkinson said added to the genuine shock they had felt about Cormack’s departure.
“It was probably for the best because I think I would have been too depressed if I’d known ahead of time,” she said.
“I think we all thought if anyone was safe from the chopping block, it would have been Danielle.”
But does she think killing off Bea was the right choice?
“They were obviously trying to calculate the repercussions of making that choice and I think, in the end, they decided to really be bold and go for it,” she said.
“Obviously no one wanted her to leave the show but it kind of made for brilliant television. I think what would have been the easy choice would have been to kill off Allie and have Bea remain — that’s the Hollywood ending.
“But I kind of think it’s brilliant that they twisted it and I like television that takes risks and that makes unexpected choices, and Wentworth has definitely delivered in this case.
“That’s the nature of what we do — if you’re no longer under contract, anything can happen to your character at any stage.”
The cast of Wentworth for season five with Kate Jenkinson, left
Heading into season five, Jenkinson is keen to show another side to Allie as more than just Bea’s grief-stricken girlfriend.
“I think there’s only one thing that’s keeping Allie clutching to her life at the moment, because at this stage I think she should could find any reason to grab a whole bunch of drugs and do away with herself,” she said.
“But she’s got an agenda and she won’t be able to be at peace with herself unless she got revenge. When we first see Allie in season five, she’s just hell-bent on making the Freak pay and throughout all of season five, I think we see Allie getting stronger and stronger and using her brain.
“She really has to become a bit freak-like if she wants to get the Freak, so we definitely see a different side of Allie, she’s stripped right back to the bare bones and she has to rebuild herself.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking but I’m proud of her as a character. She has every reason to not want to go on but she finds a way through in honour of Bea. I really feel like she owes it to Bea to avenge her death.”
Last seen in the ABC’s witness- protection drama Hiding and alongside Shaun Micallef in his comedy The Ex PM (a second season will air on ABC later this year), Wentworth marks one of Jenkinson’s biggest Australian TV roles since she returned from a stint in Hollywood in 2013, where she landed a gig on good friend Rebel Wilson’s now defunct sitcom Super Fun Night.
Jenkinson admits downing a few glasses of wine after a big day of filming Wentworth became a habit.
“I drink a lot of red wine, I’m not going to lie about that,” she laughed, adding that the role was emotionally draining.
“It’s often when you get home a couple of hours later and you’re into your third glass of wine and you’re just feeling depressed that you realise that it does take a toll on you.
“I think that’s kind of great in a way, because it means that the work is affecting and the scripts are amazing that you do feel it for real, you’re not just pretending.
“Definitely heading into season five and dealing with the aftermath of Bea’s death, it was genuinely upsetting as an actor and as a person. Obviously, we really miss Danielle as a person but we miss her presence as an actor as well because she gave so much to the show.
“But everyone is on board to make the show as wonderful as it can be and so even though we’re dealing with pretty grim subject matter every day, it never feels depressing on set; we’re always having a laugh, we’re always enjoying ourselves and I think that’s the key.
“I think everybody has a really deep sense of pride for the work we’re producing as well. It’s just such a high-quality TV show and I’m proud to be a contributor to that.”
Growing up in Salter Point, Jenkinson lamented she hadn’t been able to get back to her beloved home town as much as she’d like.
“These days it’s seeming harder and harder and sadly it’s been over a year since I’ve been back,” Jenkinson said before learning of the whirlwind Foxtel publicity visit that saw her return home briefly earlier this week.
“There are a lot of people I miss and wish I could see more often but life happens and certainly when you’re busy it can get harder to find time for that kind of thing.
“But I just love that city, it’ll always feel like home to me.”
Wentworth returns on Tuesday at 6.30pm on pay-TV’s Showcase channel.
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Created By: Rob DenBleyker, Kris Wilson, Dave McElfatrick
Written \u0026 Directed by Mike Salcedo
Story By: Mike Salcedo, Connor Murphy, Rob DenBleyker, , Joel Watson, Dave McElfatrick
Animation Director: Bill Jones
Supervising Animator: Matt Thurman
Animation: Kris Behr, Matt Thurman, Bill Jones
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