Shorty favourites Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) and Toni Thompson (Laura Hill) face a major change in their relationship this week after an action-packed trip to Fiji. The pair saw each other in a different light as they treated burns victims at a local clinic and grew closer, leading to speculation that Harry's (Callum Campbell-Ross) parents might be on the road to reconcilliation. But the romantic mood of a tropical paradise is very different to everyday life in Ferndale.
Fiji was very much a working holiday for Chris and Toni and behind the scenes the cast and crew worked hard but also made the most of their time in the islands, ending their busy shooting days around the pool. They were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the Fijian fans, and in fact the popularity of Shortland Street in Fiji was a major factor in the decision to shoot there.
"Having visited Fiji several times to promote the show, we've always been very impressed by the enthusiasm and love the Fijian people have for Shortland Street," said producer Harriet Crampton. "We wanted to tell a story that would allow the Fijians to enjoy seeing part of their beautiful country and community on screen and at the same time could help improve people's health. We hope this story will have the desired effect."
Woven into Chris and Toni's relationship drama was a moving medical story about a Fijian grandfather who was slowly going blind as a result of untreated diabetes. The storyline was suggested to Crampton earlier in the year ago by New Zealand doctors working in Fiji who were concerned at the effect that the disease diabetes was having on the Fijian population.
"Diabetes is a serious problem, and not just in Fiji," Crampton explains. "If you don't get it checked out early it can result in blindness. Knowing the huge popularity of Shortland Street in Fiji, these doctors approached us and asked us to consider a story that would encourage people with diabetes to seek early intervention."
Actress Laura Hill, who had visited Fiji earlier in 2004 on a promotional trip, was excited at the opportunity to bring Shortland Street to the islands - and to use the show's popularity to raise important health issues. "I felt very lucky to be back in Fiji, where I had a fantastic time earlier this year," she said. "Sadly it was another fleeting visit, but I met and worked with so many lovely people."
Like the other cast and crew, Hill is looking forward to
feedback from Fiji when the episodes screen there in
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