Back to Character Pages

Meg Jackson/Morris (Elspeth Ballantyne)

A prison warder born in prison, and showing no inclination to leave: the only character to serve the full stretch at Wentworth. Despite this, we never feel that Prisoner is her story (if it is anyone's it is Joan's Ferguson's).

The following character profile is written by Robert Lindsay (slightly revised).

In the beginning her husband, Bill Jackson (Don Barker) worked as a psychologist alongside Meg at Wentworth. They were both dedicated professionals but they also had a rebellious teenage son, Marty (Ronald Korosy) who frequently complained about his parents' long hours put in at the prison and eventually Marty ran away from home.

Meg was also under pressure from husband Bill to give up her job and become a housewife and mother . Of course Meg would have nothing of that idea, and Bill was not around for much longer to press the issue...

Shortly after that, in episode (3), Bill Jackson was tragically stabbed to death by resentful Wentworth inmate Chrissie Latham during a prison riot and was herself takem hostage by the rioters . After his death, Meg shocked her colleagues by turning up for duty the very next day. She quickly turned mean and officious with the inmates and would no longer put up with any sort of nonsense or insolence. Her strict and severe manner shocked even Vera Bennett. This phase only lasted a few episodes however. When Chrissie Latham finally confessed to Meg that she had been the one to kill Bill Jackson, Meg did one last tearful patrol of the prison before magically reverting to her familiar self the following episode.

Another early storyline saw Meg play detective and help prove the innocence of inmate Lyn Warner and secure Lyn's release.

Later Meg's friendship with prison doctor Greg Miller developed and a romance seemed imminent but never blossomed. Greg, of course, still really loved his former fiance Karen Travers.

Bill Jackson's eventual replacement as psychologist at the Prison was gregarious young Jean Vernon (Christine Amor). Jean and Meg became close friends and Jean soon moved into Meg's flat. Jean sometimes did not know where work finished and personal life began and at one stage allowed Noeline Burke's daughter Leanne come stay with her and Meg! Naturally Meg was not too happy about this arrangement and young Leanne caused all sorts of mischief.

Meg was extremely angry and shocked to see Chrissie Latham, the woman who had murdered her husband, brought back to Wentworth at the end of 1979. Meg demanded that Chrissie be shipped straight out again but this was not possible due to a bureaucratic bungle of then acting Governor Jim Fletcher. It is a tribute to Meg that she was able to overcome her anger and finally forgive Chrissie. When Meg could see that Chrissie had reformed she actually became quite supportive of Chrissie and her new baby Elizabeth.

In 1980, Meg had a relationship with Jim's former army buddy Geoff Butler (Ray Meagher). It seemed rather an odd match but Meg seemed reasonably happy . The relationship ended suddenly when Geoff's true colours were revealed. Geoff turned out to be quite a nasty character indeed. Fortunately Meg learned the truth in time and was not seriously harmed by Geoff, although Jim Fletcher's children and wife Leila (Penny Ramsey) were not so lucky.

Psychologist Jean soon left Wentworth and was replaced by Paul Reid (George Mallaby). Paul and Meg enjoyed a very good professional relationship. Romance was hinted at but it never developed. At one stage Paul became preoccupied with his own personal problem's (or rather his son's) and his work slipped for a while - which led to Meg covering for him on occasion. Around this time Meg moved into a new flat and immediately became heavily involved in the problems her neighbour Gail Summers (Susanne Haworth). Gail was a distressed young housewife with three screaming kids, mounting debts, and an unsympathetic husband. On occasion Meg minded Gail's children and noticed that they seemed to frequently have suspicious bruises. This led everyone to believe Gail's husband was beating the children. Meg was later shocked to discover that it was actually Gail herself who was hitting them. Gail predictably ended up in Wentworth and encountered the expected reception from Bea and friends. Gail was quickly sent to Coventry and only Noeline Burke would talk to her! Anyway, Paul made a hasty and unexpected departure from Wentworth around this time and so Meg basically took over worrying about Gail's welfare. To cut a long story short Meg did an admirable job and Gail was soon released into counselling and basically it was a happy ending.

Later in 1980 a new inmate, Tracey Morris (Sue Devine) entered Wentworth. Tracey brought with her death threats and a concerned father, Bob Morris (Anthony Hawkins). The death threats became a reality when a sniper took shots at Tracey while she was out in the prison grounds during a visit from her father. Meg was supervising this visit and was hit by the bullet intended for Tracey . Fortunately it turned out to be only a flesh wound and Meg was soon back patrolling the corridors of Wentworth.

Tracey Morris was soon released from Wentworth but her father developed quite an interest in Meg and to cut a dull subplot short they were eventually married. Tracey, predictably, initially opposed this union but soon came around. Meg and Bob's wedding occurred in (165), the final episode of 1980 , the same episode featuring the tunnel cave-in. Erica Davidson and Vera Bennett attended (the wedding, not the cave-in) and looked radiant posing for wedding photographs in their glamorous hats and gloves.

1981: A beaming Meg returns to Wentworth from her honeymoon, however she soon falls victim to a mysterious illness that sweeps Wentworth, decimating the staff and inmates. Fortunately Meg was eventually cured by herbalist/inmate Evelyn Randall however poor old Meg suffered considerable agony whilst being confined to a bed in the infirmary.

Soon after Meg and her new husband have settled into their new home, businessman Mr Morris expressed the opinion that a prison officer wife would not really create a good impression with his business associates and clients. This is pretty unreasonable of him particularly since he already knew Meg was a prison officer the minute he met her. He also worried about the considerable dangers she faced at work and would have been quite happy for her to become a tennis playing, renovation supervising housewife. If that was not possible then he could almost stand Meg being a social worker - but never a prison officer!

One night Bob is entertaining important clients at home and is desperate to create a good impression. Bob had attempted to ensure that Meg's true profession is not revealed to his guests by having Meg change out of her uniform before arriving at home and by telling the guests that Meg worked as a social worker. However, when Meg arrives home (late) she is recognised by the guests from her picture being in the newspapers over the recent Margo Gaffney robbery and hostage drama (187). Bob is caught out and he ultimately loses the deal. Bob blames Meg for this although as she points out it probably had more to do with the fact that Bob had lied to his clients, not the fact that his wife is a prison officer. Bob does not agree and continues pressuring Meg to give up her job.

After many arguments Meg surprisingly complies by giving up her job at Wentworth and indeed becomes a social worker (she should have given up her husband, not her job). Meg had previously demonstrated her proficiency in this area through her dealings with Gail Summers, however Meg's stint as a social worker was a low point in her storylines. She actually seemed to spend exactly the same amount of time at Wentworth as she had when she worked there as an officer. One storyline had her helping a rebellious young man who falls in love with her.

Officer Jim Fletcher many times told Meg (correctly) that she was not suited to be a social worker and that she should return to Wentworth and what she does best: being a prison officer. Meg was still working as a social worker when Linda Golman, who had kidnapped Erica Davidson, arrives at Wentworth. Linda is naturally totally devastated and depressed at the prospect of serving a long prison term for kidnapping etc and a concerned Judy Bryant tells Meg of Linda's suicidal state. Meg uncharacteristically tells Judy to stop being so ridiculous and flatly refuses to do anything to help Linda. When Linda hangs herself only hours later it convinces Meg that Jim is right, she is not cut out to be a social worker, and she returns to her previous job as an officer the following day. The inmates and officers (and viewers!) are glad to see Meg back as an officer and everyone wonders why she ever became a social worker. Sadly, Meg's decision to return to Wentworth also coincided with the disintegration of her marriage.

After the departure of Officer and Deputy Governor Jim Fletcher, Meg became involved in an unfortunate tussle with ambitious colleague Colleen Powell over the job of deputy Governor. Meg applied for the position at Erica Davidson's suggestion but nasty Colleen went mad with ambition and things got really personal for a while. Meg eventually got the job causing Colleen great shame and disappointment but the following day Meg announced that she really didn't want the job after all and so it went to Colleen. After that, previously nasty Colleen eventually calmed down and she and Meg became close friends.

Meg's next main enemy emerged in the form of long time inmate Margo Gaffney. Meg and Margo had previously had a good relationship but Margo's 1981 release and subsequent return to prison after a bungled armed robbery saw Margo irrationally blame Meg for her misfortunes. Actually Meg had gone out of her way to help Margo. The situation worsened after Margo escaped from custody ending up at the halfway house - where Meg saw her. Attempting to avoid endangering the success of the halfway house Meg refused to testify in court that Margo was there, but as a result was sentenced to 36 hours at Wentworth for contempt of court. During her time as an inmate, Meg was bashed by Margo. Meg's popularity with the other inmates was then demonstrated when Bea Smith and Chrissie Latham give Margo a 'tar and feathering' in retaliation for the bashing of Meg. Meg had even advised Bea not to do this as Bea may get into trouble for it!

1983: The fiery relationship between Meg and Colleen has finally calmed down and the two have now become good friends. So much so that Meg ends up letting Colleen stay at her place while Colleen has a 'break' from her husband. Meg supported Colleen through the considerable trauma that followed, all of which is detailed in Colleen Powell's character biography.

In late 1983 Meg receives a visit from long departed son Marty. The role is now played by Andrew McKaige. Marty is now in the navy. Marty is engaged and introduces Meg to his fiancee Jenny (actress Zoe Bertram) who seems a lovely young girl. Everyone is happy with the arrangement until Meg learns that the fiancee is actually a high class prostitute called Randi Goodlove! Her plan, which she gleefully admits to Meg, was to combine the security of marriage with the freedom to ply her trade during Marty's lengthy stints at sea. Meg tries to tell Marty but he doesn't believe her, thinking that Meg is just jealous and doesn't want anyone taking away her only son. They have a major falling out over this! Soon, however, the truth comes out when Marty is invited to a buck's party where Randi has been hired to provide the entertainment! Marty is naturally quite upset about this for a while. Shortly afterwards Randi is arrested and winds up at Wentworth! Meg yet again has problems of a personal interest in an inmate (after Chrissie Latham and Tracey Morris). Marty and Meg make up just in time for Marty to go off to the navy again, while Randi's stay at Wentworth is cut short by Officer David Bridges...

1984. There is another hint of romantic involvement for Meg with psychiatrist, Dr Jonathon Edmonds (Brian Marshall), who was doing some counselling work with the women at Wentworth and was also an old friend of Governor Ann Reynolds. He initially seems romantically interested in Meg and they socialise a couple of times. It turns out that he is actually quite an evil man who uses his subjects as psychological guinea pigs in personality altering experiments! He hypnotises Cass to make her hate her best friend Bobbie, turns nasty Phyllis Hunt into a model inmate, and he hypnotises Meg so that she becomes vague and forgetful! He had pretended to be interested in Meg purely so he could get the opportunity to hypnotise her. He was pretty good at it - it worked! Meg had a couple of worrying days where she seemed to become uncharacteristically forgetful. Dr Edmonds would then hypnotise his subjects again and they would suddenly return to normal! Further experiments turned nice Meg into a nasty, sadistic officer - just like Joan Ferguson! One great scene (450) showed a scowling Meg roughly slap Reb Kean across the face for answering back. Meg was quite frightening whilst in mean-mode. Fortunately the truth was uncovered before any real harm occurred and Meg survived with her sanity intact! Dr Edmonds turned everyone normal again before he was sent on his way by a furious Governor Ann Reynolds.

After Colleen Powell suffers a tremendous personal tragedy in 1984 she again turns to her best friend Meg for support. Colleen goes to stay at Meg's place again, before leaving Wentworth for good. After Colleen's departure Meg finally becomes Deputy Governor of Wentworth.

Meg also receives a return visit from Tracey Morris (played by a different actress) in 1984. However Tracey has apparently turned into a real criminal this time. Tracey and her boyfriend tie up Meg and steal all her money. Although Tracey is picked up by the police shortly afterwards she does not wind up back in Wentworth! This is fortunate as Meg has had quite enough problems of a personal interest in a Wentworth inmate in the past thank you very much!

Marty visits again in 1984 and this time has a Navy buddy with him. One night while the Navy buddy and Meg are home alone, Meg receives a threatening phone call. Soon a terrified Meg is being stalked! At least one young local girl turns up murdered and the threatening phone calls continue! One threatening call is actually an audio tape of the girl being killed! Eventually the revelation: it was the army buddy all along! He had developed a fatal attraction for Meg! The initial obscene phone call was unrelated but had given the navy buddy/psycho the idea at how to get at Meg! Fortunately Meg was saved just in the nick of time!

Meg then develops a romantic involvement with Social Worker Philip Cleary (Steve Khun). Scheming inmate Angela 'Angel' Adams is also interested in Philip and so arranges for Meg to be raped, to put her off men for awhile. The rape occurs and Meg naturally goes through considerable anguish and pain because of it. Meg's popularity with the inmates of Wentworth is again demonstrated after the already unpopular Angel brags about setting up Meg's rape. This generates quite a strong reaction from the other inmates leading eventually to them roughly chopping off all of Angel's hair with a pair of scissors (a la Chrissie Latham's punishment in early 1979). Meg had earlier seen the inmates going after Angel but had turned a blind eye to it...

Soon after, and just as the relationship with Philip begins to take shape, Philip is killed by Phyllis Hunt's old boyfriend Brian Lowe, who also takes Meg Morris and Ann Reynolds hostage. They are held in a decaying old warehouse booby trapped with several bombs! Meg and Ann are trapped for several nail biting episodes and their various escape attempts are unsuccessful. Finally the bombs are set off by an over zealous investigating police man and we are forced to wait until the following episode before discovering that Ann and Meg have indeed survived. The climactic bomb blast occurred in episode #500 which aired around October 1984. Previously major catastrophes had occurred in the final episode for the year (late November in Australia) but from this point on catastrophes happened where the storyline dictated rather than at the end of the year.

Meg's troubles are not over however. On her release from hospital she first learns of Philip's death, followed by the news that she is pregnant to the rapist (Meg apparently never had sex with Philip). Meg considers an abortion but naturally this is a very complicated and serious decision and Meg is not sure. Colleague and friend, Officer Joyce Barry, insists that an abortion is out of the question: she believes that Meg should definitely go ahead and have the baby - no matter who the father is. Meg eventually decides that she cannot abort the pregnancy and indeed decides to go ahead and have the baby. Sadly the decision is overturned for her when a medical checkup reveals that Meg has cervical cancer which must be operated on immediately. The required operation will also result in the termination of the pregnancy. Meg has the surgery which proves successful. Meg is out of danger but, sadly, the pregnancy is terminated.

After these rather extreme dramas, Meg returned to the prison and quickly settled down and back to normal. The writers from now on went a bit easier on Meg and her role in the series was slightly less prominent than it had been previously.

Much later, Meg had a brief romance with colleague, Officer Dennis Cruikshank. This is around episode #525 which originally aired in 1985. Originally Dennis had romanced fellow officer Heather Rogers but Dennis and Heather had both been written out around (481) after doing their original three month stint in mid-1984. Dennis returns but Heather doesn't, hence his romance with Meg.

Meg and Dennis are not happy for long however. First Dennis is arrested for being a serial killer of young girls. Meg bails him out of prison and agrees to stand by him. Soon after the charges are dropped, Dennis and Meg are confronted by armed and angry escapee Frank Burke. Frank had been one of the temporary male prisoners at Wentworth. He was quite a nasty character who had developed a grudge against Dennis which he now planned to settle. Frank shoots Dennis in the legs, turning Dennis into a cripple. Frank also steals various items from Meg including her engagement ring. While there was a chance Dennis would eventually recover from his injuries, he certainly couldn't work as a prison officer until that happened and so he is pensioned off. Dennis also doesn't want to burden Meg so he ends the relationship and quickly departs the series, never to be seen again.

1986: For the last few months of the series, Meg gets to play mother again with the re-introduction of her son, Marty (now played by Michael Winchester). Marty is now a regular in the series. Having resigned from the navy after a tragic fire that claimed the life of two unseen friends of Marty's he become a prison officer at Wentworth.

Meg happily continues as an officer between her major storylines and as the series ends this is still the case. Its quite easy to imagine that Meg is still patrolling the corridors of Wentworth... offering kind words of advice... and putting the Wentworth toughies back in their place!

Around episode (500), actress Elspeth Ballantyne was quoted as saying that "for more than five years I have thoroughly enjoyed being in constant work". After the series ended in 1986 she claimed that she was "relieved".

On time co-star Andy Anderson who played officer Rick Manning in 1984 has said of Elspeth Ballantyne: "Elspeth was the peace keeper amongst them all (the cast). She's a lovely lady".

According to Barbara Jungwirth who was (mostly) non-speaking background character Lorna Young for the entire eight year run, Elspeth Ballantyne contacted the producers when the demise of the series was announced and suggested that for the remainder of the shooting only the long established background characters should be used. In the final episode only the long term background characters are used.

Updated ~ 24 March 2002

Back to Character Pages