Olivia Bligh

Olivia is the youngest daughter of the Brackley family, an aristocratic family feeling the pinch in post war England.

Played by Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood

As sweet as she is sheltered, Olivia’s life has been one of an enduring charade, the charade of keeping up appearances in the face of adversity.

"Olivia is a very loving person and someone who aims to see the best in everybody," Arianwen says of her character.

As with many in the English upper class, hers is a family emptied of true wealth by the depression and two World Wars.

What privilege they still enjoy is a function solely of their family title. But a title alone cannot sustain a grand house and four children, so when James Bligh surprised the family by asking for Olivia’s hand in marriage, it seemed the answer to at least one of their prayers.

If the proposal was a shock, it was of the happiest kind. Despite her undoubtedly good nature, Olivia is no society belle and this, combined with the family’s increasingly limited prosperity, made it look likely she would become an old maid or make a less than stellar marriage.

Olivia had steadily grown smitten with the dashing young Australian James Bligh during his four years of friendship with her adored brother William. But James had never seemed to show her anything more than polite interest.

And then came the proposal out of the blue. "She’d been secretly, desperately in love with him for years but he never seemed to notice her," Arianwen says. "Suddenly he proposes and it’s as if her dreams have come true."

She didn’t think twice about her answer. He was her Prince Charming and she the unlikeliest of Cinderella’s. She would be happily married and the wealthy Blighs could well help her family’s fortunes. For the first time in her life, Olivia was genuinely happy.

But her genteel education and years of learning how to behave in polite society left her naive to the world. Although there is much in her situation to question, Olivia’s nature is to ignore the unpleasant. "She’s left her entire family behind and arrived in Australia where everything is foreign to her," Arianwen says. "She’s embarking on this completely new life as a married woman. Initially, she’s terribly uncertain of how to fit in and filled with self-doubt."

In a world where the goal is to become a good and loving wife, regardless of the personal sacrifice, James' behaviour could be explained away by some fault of her own. Believing in the good of the world, and her own imperfection, Olivia ultimately sees all failings as hers - hers to be owned, or remedied.

"With James, Olivia senses something is not quite as it should be between them as a married couple," Arianwen says. "She assumes he’s disappointed in her as a wife and she struggles to work out how to make James love her the way that she loves him."

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