Jenni Baird as Regina Standish.
Jenni Baird as Regina Standish. Supplied

A Place to Call Home’s shock death

The surprising death of her character might have come as a shock to fans. But A Place To Call Home's Jenni Baird, who has starred as the show's arch villainess, Regina Standish, for five years, says she's long known about producers decision to kill off her evil alter ego.

"Yes, I knew," Baird admits. "They told me way, way ahead of time.

"The first idea was to finish the character at the end of season four. So, in a way, it's been a bit of a bonus."

At the end of that season, which finished in 2016, Baird's character, Regina, was sectioned, left languishing in a padded cell, wrapped in a straight jacket.

It seemed unlikely she would return - but producers couldn't help themselves.

"The original idea was to end it at the end of series four," Baird says. "And what's funny is, after we got cancelled by Channel 7 (before being picked up by current home, Foxtel, in 2014), we all met for a commiseration drink.

"(Creator Bevan Lee) told me then what he would have done with Regina, the whole 'send her mad, and have her end in up in an asylum' thing if we'd got picked up again.

"I remember thinking at the time, 'It's such a shame I won't get to do that.'

"So it's been so wonderful that I did. And Season Five has been a bonus for me."

Jenni Baird in her final scenes as Regina Standish. Her character was killed off in last night’s episode of A Place to Call Home. Image: Supplied/Foxtel
Jenni Baird in her final scenes as Regina Standish. Her character was killed off in last night’s episode of A Place to Call Home. Image: Supplied/Foxtel

Baird admits when producers told her Regina would be back this year - and on a mission to make amends - she was initially sceptical.

"I said to Bevan, 'No one is going to believe for a second that Regina is back and out to do good by people,' and he said, 'Good! That's perfect.'"

In fact, right up until the last seconds of the episode you're not entirely sure whose body has been found at the creek.

Jenni Baird's character Regina Standish met a sticky end in last night’s episode. Was it murder?
Jenni Baird's character Regina Standish met a sticky end in last night’s episode. Was it murder?

"And that's good - that's what they wanted," Baird says of the shock twist. "They wanted everyone to think it was Jack (Craig Hall). And it could have been him - after all, Regina has killed before!"

She's right - as Baird bows out of the fifth series, her character's body count is already sky high.

"Yes, it's three," Baird muses, "Her husband, Milly Davis and Sergeant Taylor."

For Baird, an established stage and screen actor, her evil nature has always been entirely the charm.

Regina was left languishing in an asylum at the end of last series.
Regina was left languishing in an asylum at the end of last series.

"This whole role has been a gift," she explains. "You ask any actor and they will say, 'Give me some meat; give me something to do.' And they really, really did!

"It was so dark at the end of series four - there was so much stress.

"I am a really sunny person, so giving me really dark, heavy stuff was really hard for me.

"I really had to put my comfort aside, and by the end I was like, 'I just want to get back to being happy.'"

Baird says it felt like the right time to say goodbye to Regina.

The creek becomes a crime scene as a body washes up. The victim? Regina Standish, played by Jenni Baird
The creek becomes a crime scene as a body washes up. The victim? Regina Standish, played by Jenni Baird

"I was sad to say goodbye, not just to the character, but also to the workplace, because it had been five years of my life," she explains. "My son has grown up - he was four months old when we started and he will be six in May. So it's been a big era of my life, and his life."

As for what's next, for the time being, that's up in the air. Her husband, writer and producer Michael Petroni, has just signed on as a showrunner for new Netflix series, Messiah, currently in pre-production.

He's been based Stateside, and Jenni has been travelling back and forth.

"It's his concept, so that's amazing," Baird says. "It's going to be shooting in Texas, Washington and the Middle East, so we are working that out as we go along.

Jenni Baird will split her time between Australia and the States next year
Jenni Baird will split her time between Australia and the States next year

"It will be a six month shoot for him, and we will go over every school holidays, depending on what happens.

"We are a bit of a nomadic family in that sense."



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