Volume 8 of the ever popular Australian drama series Matlock Police has just gone on sale in the UK, and we find that the mayhem continues for the coppers in this small rural community.

The cast of Matlock Police. From left are Tom Richards, Vic Gordon, Paul Cronin, and Michael Pate.

The detectives fear for the wellbeing of a young cripple (played by Sigrid Thornton) who is being driven insane by her mother, a mob of feuding farmers are behaving like drongos, and a young girl vanishes. When a band of traveling showmen hit town a spate of horse rusting ensues, more chaos follows due to the actions of a group of squatters, a hang-gliding maniac, and a peddler of dodgy antiques.

Constable Gary Hogan (Paul Cronin) has to evict the pregnant wife of a man who is serving time in prison, and a teenage loner goes berserk taking pot shots at a house where a party is in full swing. Elsewhere we wonder if a female country bumpkin is behind a spate of king hit bashings on innocent males, and an arsonist after a quick thrill causes widespread devastation.

Constable Gary Hogan (Paul Cronin) hears another tall tale from a local wide boy.

An interstate pickpocket vows to turn over a new leaf, a drug dealer from the big city needs to be stopped, and a sly grog and robbery racket puts the cobblers on the annual peach harvest. The dedicated law enforcers head to the town of Burrabri to investigate a case of abduction and rape, but back in Matlock, Detective Steve York’s (Tom Richards) latest squeeze refuses to follow police advice and foolishly tries to integrate an ex-con into the local community.

Tragedy strikes when Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern (Michael Pate) is gunned down and seriously injured whilst in the pursuit of cattle duffers. Maddern leaves town and is replaced by Detective Sergeant Jack Maloney (Peter Gwynne) who finds his family in peril due to a deranged Irishman. On a lighter note, Sergeant Bert Kennedy (Vic Gordon) brings a touch of musical theatre to town when he performs at a fundraiser in an old folk’s home.

Steve York (Tom Richards) has more sheila strife in Matlock Police.

A host of familiar faces appear in this DVD box set including Belinda Giblin from Sons & Daughters; Norman Yemm, Reg Gorman and Vikki Hammond from The Sullivans; Elspeth Ballantyne and Betty Bobbit from Prisoner: Cell Block H; and Ian Smith from Neighbours. Keep an eye out for Cornelia Frances from Home & Away; Syd Heylen from A Country Practice; David Phillips from Bellbird; John Fegan and John Stanton from Homicide; and Maurie Fields, Val Jellay and Terry Gill from The Flying Doctors. Other well-known performers who crop up during the police investigations include Jon English, John Ewart, Slim DeGrey, Robert ‘Tex’ Morton, Noel Ferrier, Wendy Hughes, and Bill Hunter.

The late Natalie Raine played Nell Kennedy, the ever loyal wife of Sergeant Bert Kennedy. Nell was a salt of the earth type, always there with a supportive shoulder, always happy to lay on a good feed for starved coppers, and a stalwart of the local community.

It’s the end of the line for Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern (Michael Pate) when tragedy strikes.

Natalie started out as a Tivoli soubrette in Sydney appearing in all manner of pantomimes and vaudeville shows. She had an ambition to break into the movie business and trained at the Cinesound Talent School; in 1940 this resulted in her being cast in the film Dad Rudd, M.P. which was directed by Ken G. Hall.

The breaks kept coming. She was signed up by the legendary J.C. Williamson to appear on stage with Gladys Moncrieff in The Maid of the Mountains , and would go on to star in a number of hit theatrical productions for the company including The Desert Song, and Rose Marie. Natalie made the decision to try her luck in England, it was the right decision and she spent ten very successful years working here.

She appeared in the movie Ha’penny Breeze, and found plenty of work in the theatre on both the West End and in the provinces. She starred in the comedy play Pommy with Bill Kerr, Edward Howell and Ronald Howard, which involved an Englishman arriving in Australia to work on an outback sheep station. Natalie gave over 300 performances in the musical comedy Will Any Gentleman, and in 1952 during the opening night performance of a new revue called London Laughs at the Adelphi Theatre, she was knocked unconscious after being hit in the face by a weighted backcloth. After receiving medical treatment, and despite having severe bruising to her nose and right eye, she continued with the performance. Her radio credits included appearing in the BBC Radio adaptation of Robbery Under Arms which was transmitted in 1950.

Natalie Raine as Nell Kennedy

On returning to Australia, Natalie joined Crawford Productions teaching at the Crawford School of Broadcasting, and would go on to produce the Crawford talent series Showcase/Stars of Showcase which was the first national television talent quest in Australia. The programme was hosted by Gordon Boyd, and featured a 25 piece orchestra conducted by Hector Crawford himself. The format was so successful that NBC in the USA launched their own version of the show in 1968.

Natalie would also continue to work as an actress appearing in Consider Your Verdict, the medical drama series Emergency, Young Ramsay, Prisoner: Cell Block H, and Sons & Daughters.  She can be seen in several recent Crawford DVD releases- Matlock Police Volumes 1 and 6-8; Division 4 Volumes 3, 6, and 10; and Homicide Volumes 3, 4, 12, and 13.

Matlock Police Volume 8, along with plenty of other Australian television classics, can be ordered in the UK exclusively from Eaton Films. Those of you who are based in Australasia can obtain your copies directly from Crawford DVD.

More trouble is brewing for Nell and Bert Kennedy (Natalie Raine and Vic Gordon)

All images copyright Crawford Productions/Eaton Films/WIN Corporation.
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