When Grundy phoned Judy with the offer for an audition for a new role in Prisoner, also known as Prisoner Cell Block H, it was a big no; however, she was sent a copy of the script and she completely fell in love with the wonderful character of the bigamist Pixie Mason. About six actresses auditioned and Judy won the part. McBurney started the filming in February 1983 and her first episode went to air in July the same year. The crew gave Judy a lot of freedom to create Pixie herself. Judy wanted Pixie to be a dreamy sort of character, and things like Pixie’s make-up, pink clothes, hair-ribbons, and the pink items in her cell, as well Women’s Weekly magazines and photos of Princess Diana on the walls, were all Judy’s ideas; while practically all the other prisoners bought cigarettes and drugs from the money they earned by the work in the laundry. Pixie soon became one of the most comic characters during her time in the show.
Judy resigned three times from the show; the first two times she chose to return. When she left the third time she had been with the show for about 14 months. She was homesick and exhausted from working, and had flown between Sydney and Melbourne almost every weekend during the duration of the program’s production; finally, she decided to leave the show for good. In Pixie’s final episode – in one of the show’s saddest moments – she was raped by temporary male inmate Frank Burke (Trevor Kent), and ends up at Ingleside, the psychiatric hospital for criminals. Personally Judy didn’t like her final scene and saw it as a too cruel way to end Pixie’s story and asked the writers to change it, but sadly they refused. However, Judy has mostly happy memories from the her time in Prisoner and still keeps in contact with some of her co-stars and has as well attended a few Prisoner Events in Birmingham and Scotland a few years back.
The late Sheila Florance (Lizzie Birdsworth) to the right. One of the Prisoner cast who really welcomed Judy when she arrived as new to the show. Sheila had a private driver to the studio every morning and they also picked Judy up and the two of them became close friends during their over 40 episodes they filmed together.
The Official Judy McBurney Website
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