|Shortland Street character|
|Portrayed by||Paul Gittins|
|First appearance||25 May 1992|
|Last appearance||21 January 1999|
|Introduced by||Caterina De Nave (1992)|
Simon Bennett (1997, 1998)
|Other names||Dr McKenna|
|Occupation||Clinic Director of Shortland Street (1989–95)|
Dr. Michael McKenna is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera, Shortland Street . He was portrayed by Paul Gittinsand was part of the original cast.
Established actor Paul Gittins was cast but struggled to keep up with the fast schedule.However, after crew realized Gittins performed better towards the end of the week, all his scenes were filmed late on Fridays. After settling into the role, Gittins highly enjoyed it and learnt a lot from his younger co stars. Gittins soon became exhausted by the workload and wanted diversity, he quit and the character made his final appearance as a regular in 1995.
Michael, the Director of Shortland Street, supported nursing manager, Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) through her accusation of murder and the two got together. However, the power couple dissolved and Michael turned to heavy drinking. He was convinced to seek help and later dated a university student. The arrival of daughter Rachel McKenna (Angela Bloomfield) put an end to the relationship and Michael soon found himself reuniting with estranged wife, Alex (Liddy Holloway). Michael was shocked and disappointed when he learned his son Jonathon (Kieren Hutchison) was gay, but ended up saving him and his boyfriend Jamie (Karl Urban) from a group of homophobes. Suffering anxiety about aging and scared that Michael was having an affair, Alex underwent plastic surgery but reacted to the medication leading to many believing Michael had purposefully tried to kill her. When she finally woke from her coma, this was disproven. Subsequently, in 1995, the marriage ended and Michael suffered a heart attack, leading to him recovering away from Ferndale. Upon his return, he and Alex decided to make another go at things and Michael sold his share of the clinic. The two departed for a lifestyle block in the country side; however, just a year later, Alex returned and announced the marriage was once again over. Several months later she returned to Michael to attempt a reconciliation. Michael returned in 1997 when Nick Harrison (Karl Burnett) called him to help his daughter Rachel with her alcohol issues. Michael returned once again in late 1998 to inform Rachel of Alex's passing while overseas. He guided her on how to stop a takeover of the hospital but suffered several massive heart attacks and died in early 1999. In 2014, Rachel used her large inheritance from Michael to start a charitable surgery company named McKenna House in his honour.
Shortland Street has a constant thoroughfare of family units to help attract and widen the target demographics.In 1992 Adrian Keeling who portrayed patriarch of the Neilson family unit, Tom, quit his role in the soap. Producers realized there would be a notable gap in demographics and the decision was made to expand on the already established character of hospital CEO, Michael McKenna. The McKenna family arrived to screens in early 1993. A writer of the show, Liddy Holloway, was cast as Michael's estranged wife Alex McKenna and Gittins would often joke that she wrote her character the best lines. Also in the family unit were teenagers, Rachel and Jonathon McKenna. The character of Jonathon was written as gay and the storyline proved both controversial and groundbreaking, with Michael's reluctance to accept his son highly topical. The family unit also saw the introduction of Alex's niece, Waverley Wilson, who stayed on the soap for many years, becoming one of its most iconic characters. The family dynamics that were brought on by the McKennas, were later praised with the show receiving a makeover in 2001 to try and comply with the benchmark set by Michael and his family. The McKenna family disbanded in 1995 when Michael and Alex departed the show. Jonathon appeared in several more stints while Rachel stayed as a central character on the soap for many years. Gittins enjoyed the introduction of the family unit, stating; "I started off as a single character, and then the family was created. I really enjoyed the father-daughter relationship because I have a young daughter. The McKenna family was incredibly dysfunctional. I enjoyed that ... We were the totally '90s dysfunctional family: conflict between the husband and wife, rebellious daughter, gay son, a wife living close to the edge, alcoholism, workaholicism, and stress. It was more exciting – and made for good drama."
The homosexuality storyline involving Michael and his son, helped one man accept his own sexuality.Since leaving the show, Michael has left an archetype filled by many characters, being the "suave CEO". In 2017, stuff.co.nz journalist Fleur Mealing named Michael as the fifth character she most wanted to return for the show's 25th anniversary, citing the possibility that he survived his death. She believed the return was necessary as he was the "father" of a generation of viewers.
Christopher Alexander Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who has been portrayed by Michael Galvin since the show's first episode, making him the longest running original character. Galvin quit the show in 1996, but returned to the show four years later when the show underwent a revamp. In total he has been with Shortland Street for 23 of its 27 years.
Dr. Jonathon Alexander McKenna is a fictional character in the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. He is portrayed by Kieren Hutchison, who played the role in both recurring and regular stints throughout the 1990s, before returning for a six-month period during 2011.
Guy Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Craig Parker in a guest role in 1992 before returning as core cast from 1993 to 1996. Guy returned for the shows 15th anniversary in May 2007 and again from December 2007 to April 2008.
Dr. Gabrielle Jacobs is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street and has been portrayed by Virginie Le Brun throughout two stints, the first from 2009 to 2010 and the second from 2011 to 2012. She arrived in February 2009 as a potential love interest for long serving playboy Chris Warner.
Rachel McKenna is a fictional character from the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, played by Angela Bloomfield and who made her first appearance in early 1993. Bloomfield left the role in late 1999, before returning in early 2001 and departing in early 2003. She returned in a guest role in mid-2007 and again in a full-time role in late 2009 before departing once again in late 2016.
Harry Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who first appeared onscreen in May 2002. Being born on screen during the shows 10th anniversary, Harry has been portrayed by several child actors and by Reid Walker since 2009. In May 2017 Harry left for an exchange program in Japan.
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.
Jamie Forrest is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. The character was portrayed by Karl Urban for a guest stint in mid-1993 before returning later in the year for a 6-month recurring stint. The character is remembered as the first openly gay character on the show.
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.
Greg Feeney is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Tim Balme for numerous recurring stints throughout the mid to late nineties.
Ellen Rosemary Crozier is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Robyn Malcolm for nearly six years in the mid to late 1990s.
Te Rangitahi "Rangi" Heremaia is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Blair Strang from 1995 to 2001.
Dr. Grace Kwan is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, portrayed by Lynette Forday from 1994 to 1997. Forday reprised the role 16 years later in 2013.
Shortland Street's 20th anniversary is a series of episodes that aired to commemorate the 20th year of the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street from the 21st to the 25th of May 2012. The episodes were built around a 90-minute episode that aired on the 21st and climaxed in a helicopter crash. Billed as Shortland Street's biggest ever episode, the anniversary was highly praised by reviewers and received record ratings. Other storylines included Gerald Tippett's heart surgery and Callum McKay's departure.