Originally intended to be called either 'Palace Guards' or 'Saints And Sinners', Crawford Production decided on a last minute name change to 'Cop Shop', for its popular Australian TV police drama. Featuring Olga Tamara, Peter Adams, Lynda Stoner, Paula Duncan and John Orcsik, 'Cop Shop' ran for 7 years between 1977 and 1984 on channel Seven in Australia. Set in inner suburban Riverside police station, 'Cop Shop' sought to explore "the pressures of today's (1977) society put on policemen and policewomen depicting both their working situation and after-hours activity." Production of 'Cop Shop' stopped in December 1983 with the last episode went on air in July 1984.
Austrian-born of Hungarian parents, John Orcsik came to Australia when he was 5. "There's been some prejudice against me because I'm European," John told Jacqui Johnson in 1981. "I don't think it's been deliberate, but I haven’t been considered for roles that maybe I would have been if I was Australian." John also told 'TV Week', "Horse riding is exhilarating. It's a good sport. In a way it's romantic, too. There’s a certain romance attached to it. I love horses and the look of them.
"When you’re riding and jumping you have to be mentally alert because you and the horse become one unit and sometimes you even have to think for the horse. You have to be fit and have good balance and control. It’s a bit like riding a bike. If you get on one after a break of 10 or 20 years, you’ll still know how to do it. I started riding when I was about 17, and I learned the hard way. I began doing rough-riding, which taught me nothing about the finer points of the sport. But I certainly learned how to hang on. I was a very big, muscly boy then. I weighed about 16 stone because I was training at weightlifting and bodybuilding."
Of acting, the then 34 years old John who played Detective Mike Georgiou acknowledged, "It’s a glamorous life to the extent of being invited to all the openings and premieres or functions, getting fan mail and people recognizing me in the street. But the bad times (referring to the stunts performed) are when I have to jump into a lake in winter to rescue a body, or sprint up a lane when my muscles are cold and then suffer from a pulled hamstring. Recently (back in 1981) I had a case of bottles thrown at me and I had to kick it away. If I had missed, I’d have been mincemeat. Sometimes Crawfords think I’m superman and I’m expected to spring into action when they want.
"My mother wanted me to follow in Dad’s footsteps and become an architect, but I didn’t complete my university course in architecture. Instead I worked on an oil rig, in a health studio, in Coles (supermarket), banks and as a clerk. Then I joined the Patch Theatre in Perth in 1968, and there was no stopping me, I continued doing theatre work for the Melbourne Theatre Company and later worked for Crawfords.
"It hasn’t been easy or quick (it took John 10 years). Clinching a major, continuing role was 4th time lucky for me. I was odds-on for replacing John Stanton in 'Homicide' and failed. Then I was very hot to co-star in 'Bluey', but John Diedrich got the nod. When 'Cop Shop' came along I was all lined up to get the part, but Tony Bonner got it. But when Tony left, that was it. Getting into a TV series is like winning Tatts (lottery). I’m not going to leave the series and throw myself into unemployment."
Peter Adams began his show business career performing in Gilbert and Sullivan production then moving to stage works performing Shakesperean plays as well as modern classics. He also performed in nightclubs, revues and appearing on other television shows including 'Prisoner'. However Peter liked musical comedy best, "It’s a marvellous area to work in because there's so much in it. There's the story, plus comedy, dance, music and lots of scene changes. While all acting roles are hard, the most difficult is comedy. You've just got to get the laughs. There are no grey areas like you find in other sorts of drama. Comedy is either funny or it's not. I’m more serious, really, though I love to laugh and joke and I think I’ve got a good sense of humor.”
When he started working on 'Cop Shop', Peter told Paulyne Pogorelske he was a workaholic. "Now (in 1982) I close the book on Friday night and don't open it till Monday. It was too much. It was probably a habit and an easy way out of doing anything else. It was even an effort to go out for dinner. It was easier to sit at home and think about work. I pace myself now (in 1982). I make sure I concentrate fully on the job the time I’m involved, but that’s where I leave it when the job’s finished.
"I’ve changed my attitude entirely. I’ve been through a period of self-examination. Changing my pace has been a gradual process of growing older (44 years old at the time) and maturing. The communication with the family is much better. The children are also far less in awe of me than they were. They don’t have to wonder who the strange man in the house is."
After studying drama and singing for one year at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Paula Duncan told Jacqui Johnson, "I was told I wasn’t NIDA material, and that I’d be more suited to TV and film work. You could imagine how I felt. I became very disillusioned and gave up the thought of acting and worked for a Sydney jeweller. My sister Carmen (Iris on the American daytime soap opera 'Another World') was the main person to restore my confidence. She kept telling me that I've had it in me to be an actress since I was a little girl. And, if I didn’t do anything about it, I would regret it. But I feel I’ve been sheltered by the TV industry, because I don’t have a great stage background like say John McTernan."
Patsy King (Erica Davidson in 'Prisoner') observed, "With TV, the characters are never completely rounded off. You are developing them all the time." In 1986, Paula got a 4-month gig on 'Prisoner'. She told Amanda Zachariah, "It's been 2 years since 'Cop Shop' finished. (Producer) Marie Trevor rang me a month ago (around November 1985) with a character idea in mind.
"I was given the chance to read what they had written and if I accepted the job the character would be written for me. After that initial introduction I jumped at the chance. Lorelei is such a nice change for me. Marie pointed it out that we are both great optimists and that we both have children about the same age. I have really studied the character and already I’m finding it hard to switch off. I know quite a few of the girls in 'Prisoner.'"
Lynda Stoner told Paulyne Pogorelske in 1982 she wanted to act since she was 5. "It's the only thing I ever wanted to do," Lynda explained. "I even wrote my own plays which we put on at the church; they were abysmal and embarrassed my mother. None of my family was really interested in that sort of thing. They thought I'd just grow out of it. I'd have liked the chance to do a respectable (full–time acting) course, because if you haven't completed a course at NIDA, a lot of people don't think of you as a serious actress. But I never had the opportunity. I don’t want to be 40 years of age and look back and ask why I didn’t do such and such. I’ve got to do it now."
Melbourne-born of English parents Sarah Kemp told Marie Ussher in 1985, "Working in 'Sons And Daughters' is perfect for me because I get to do other jobs when Charlie disappears overseas with an Italian count for a few months. It's a nice, harmonious way of earning a living. I worry a little about being landed with her (Charlie) really glamorous image and just hope people remember I can do other things and that she (Charlie) doesn’t limit me too much in the future. As soon as I get out of the studio I start saying 'Geez mate, she'll be right.'"