|Shortland Street character|
|Portrayed by||Maggie Harper|
|First appearance||26 May 1992|
|Last appearance||14 September 2002|
|Introduced by||Caterina De Nave (1992)|
Harriet Crampton (2002)
|Book appearances||Shortland Street books – Nick's story (1996)|
|Occupation||Political administrator |
Jenny Harrison is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street . She was portrayed by Maggie Harper as part of the show's original cast, making her first appearance in the second episode. Harper quit the role in 1998 but reprised the character briefly 4 years later.
Jenny was created as the single mother of teenage rebel, Nick Harrison (Karl Burnett) after surviving an abusive marriage with Nick's father. The personal assistant to the Shortland Street clinic's chief executive officer, Michael McKenna (Paul Gittins), Jenny was the embodiment of the strong and wise matriarch the shows producers wished to portray. Jenny headlined numerous storylines including a secret love affair with Guy Warner (Craig Parker), a secret revealing Nick may not be her biological son, numerous romances, a pregnancy and later abortion, breast cancer, a brief marriage to the villainous Ian Seymour (David Press) and departing the show to work in politics alongside best friend, Marj Brasch (Elizabeth McRae). By the time Jenny departed in 1998, she was the shows longest running character and only one of the two remaining original cast, beside her son Nick.
Jenny was a popular character, being named as a "favourite". Many of Jenny's storyline were notable, including a never finished story where she developed a cyst and a hugely controversial storyline where the middle aged personal assistant had an abortion.
Whilst creating the show that was to become Shortland Street, Caterina De Nave set out to pursue many goals, one of which was to have strong powerful women as primary characters to counter stereotype the weak and vulnerable women often portrayed in dramas.De Nave and Television New Zealand also wished for as wide demographics as possible and many measures were set about to ensure the soap would reach a diverse audience. To fulfill this, De Nave created the roles of teenagers such as Nick Harrison, Stuart Neilson and Kirsty Knight to draw in a young audience. Family units were also commonly used in soap operas to sustain a wide variety of demographics in one group of characters and as such, the characters of Nick and Stuart were built around a family unit, with the single mother of Nick's, Jenny, being created to represent single parent families. Jenny was characterised to embody the strong matriarch De Nave wished to portray. Maggie Harper had just started a 4-year course on the natural healing technique, the Feidenkrais method, when she was cast in the role. She was said to bring her own strength and experience to the part. Jenny made her debut on the show's second episode, screened 26 May 1992.
As the nineties progressed, Harper maintained her role and by 1996, was one of only three remaining cast members of the original 16, alongside screen son, Karl Burnett (Nick Harrison) and Angela Dotchin (Kirsty Knight).Dotchin departed two years later, leaving only the Harrison family as the remaining original cast. Several months later, Harper quit the role after falling in love with a man she met at a fancy dress party. Harper was pleased to be in a relationship upon leaving the show due to Jenny's constant thoroughfare of poor romances. The character of Jenny's best friend, Marj Brasch (Elizabeth McRae) was reintroduced to the soap in her final episodes as a means of writing her out. Shortly after quitting Harper realised the extent of how happy she was, stating, "The week I finished I was on my bike cycling away and I thought, 'Oh, I have no lines to learn, how wonderful'." Following Jenny's departure in August 1998, only one original cast member remained on the show, being that of her son Nick. Harper reprised the role in 2002 for her onscreen son's wedding.
Jenny was shocked when her ex-husband Barry Harrison (Alistair Browning) strode back into town but nonetheless, the two reconciled. However Barry hit Jenny and it was soon revealed his constant bashing was the reason for their break up. They again broke up and Barry was even disowned by the couples son, Nick (Karl Burnett). Jenny fell in love with her boss, Michael McKenna (Paul Gittins) and later briefly dated Declan Kennedy (Kevin J. Wilson). Scandal struck when it was revealed Jenny was Guy Warner's (Craig Parker) mistress despite his relationship with Meredith Fleming (Stephanie Wilkin). The clinic staff turned against Jenny but when they realised she was just lonely, she was forgiven. Jenny began to be stalked by a boy named Adam (Jeremy Brennan) who claimed to be her real biological son, though it was never disproven, he was later sectioned due to his deteriorating mental health.
Jenny began to date Johnny Marinovich (Stelios Yiakmis) and fell pregnant. The pregnancy was terminated but Jenny was devastatingly diagnosed with breast cancer and all the while Johnny was cheating on her. Jenny's cancer went into remission and she left Johnny and took up with Ian Seymour (David Press). The two eloped but broke up when his true antagonistic nature was unveiled after he attempted to drown Kirsty (Angela Dotchin). News later came that Ian had died but Nick discovered he had in fact faked his death and Jenny called the police on him when he tried to kill Nick. Jenny became increasingly disillusioned with the health system and the return of her best friend Marj (Elizabeth McRae) saw Jenny offered a job in politics. She accepted and left Ferndale. Jenny and Marj returned 4 years later to attend Nick's marriage to Waverley Wilson (Claire Chitham). Their friendship broke up when Jenny announced her resignation however Nick talked them through it and the two departed after the ceremony.
The character of Jenny Harrison was named as a "favourite" to Shortland Street viewers.Harper herself did not enjoy playing Jenny when the soap began, but influenced the characters development with her own personality, she stated, "At first, I thought Jenny was a bit of a victim . They've made her a stronger character now. I got sick of her being so passive. It was annoying to play and I don't think she was a good role model, either." Jenny's abortion in 1995 was seen as highly controversial and several complaints were made to the Broadcasting Standards Authority, though none were upheld. A storyline featuring Jenny developing a cyst was introduced to the soap but never continued due to the writers effectively forgetting about it. This later became a codename, "Jenny's cyst", for forgotten or misplaced storylines occurring in the soap. 2011 advertisements for repeats of the soap's original episodes, noted Jenny as one of the featured characters to entice an audience.
Shortland Street is a New Zealand prime-time soap opera centering on the fictitious Shortland Street Hospital, first broadcast on TVNZ 2 on 25 May 1992. It is New Zealand's longest-running drama and soap opera, being broadcast continuously for 7,000 episodes and over 28 years, and is one of the most watched television programmes in New Zealand.
Antoinette "Toni" Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Laura Hill from 2001 until 2008.
Darryl Neilson is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Appearing sporadically, Darryl made several recurring appearance from 1992 to the characters death in 1995. He was portrayed by Mark Ferguson.
Dr. Hone Ropata is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Temuera Morrison as part of the original cast. Morrison maintained the role for three years before briefly reprising it in 2008 to commemorate the show's 4000th episode.
Dr. Stuart Neilson is a fictional character in the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Martin Henderson as part of the original cast until early 1995. The character returned after 22 years off screen to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary episode which aired on the 25th of May, 2017.
Nicholas John Harrison is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Karl Burnett from the show's second episode in 1992 to 2005, making him the original character to stay with the show the longest in one stint. The character along with wife Waverley returned for the show's 25th anniversary that aired on 25 May 2017.
Marjorie "Marj" Brasch is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Being part of the original cast, she was portrayed by Elizabeth McRae from the show's first season in 1992 up until 1996. She returned as a guest character in 1998, 2002, as part of the show's 20th anniversary in May 2012 and again for the show's 25th anniversary in 2017.
Sam Aleni is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Rene Naufahu as part of the original cast from 1992 to 1996. Naufahu reprised his role 18 years later from March 2014.
Kirsty Knight is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street and was portrayed by Angela Dotchin as part of the 1992 original cast up until 1998.
Lionel Skeggins is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by John Leigh. His casting on the show began in late 1993 as a guest role and ended in early 1999 as a fan favourite regular. Lionel returned for a cameo in the show's 25th Anniversary in 2017.
Episode 1 of the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street was first broadcast on 25 May 1992.
Tom Leslie Neilson is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Part of the original cast, Tom was portrayed by Adrian Keeling from the shows first episode until May the following year when the character starred in a high profile storyline where Tom went missing. He returned later in the year to finish the storyline off.
Waverley Harrison was a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. She was portrayed by Claire Chitham and was introduced as a love interest for Nick Harrison who she eventually married 8 years after her arrival to the show. The character returned along with Husband Nick for the show's 25th anniversary episode that aired on 25 May 2017.
Caroline Buxton is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Tandi Wright from late 1995 to early 2000.
Dr. David Kearney is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Peter Elliott from early 1996 to late 1999 and for a guest appearance in 2020.