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Date: 26/6/2007

DHS 26 June 2007: Actor Samuel Johnson to play Weary Dunlop in a new stage play. Sam Johnson. Published: The Herald Sun - July 14, 2007

Rising from grief

Samuel Johnson fell apart after the death of his partner, but has finally made it back to the stage after more than a year out of the spotlight. Picture: David Caird

FORMER Secret Life of Us star Samuel Johnson has broken his silence over the tragic death of his partner, Lainie Woodlands.

Woodlands killed herself 16 months ago. A bitter, seven-month legal battle then ensued between her parents over where she was to be buried.

A healthy, fit and composed Johnson revealed his pain at the loss of his partner during a frank appearance on Channel 10's 9am with David and Kim on Tuesday.

He spoke of burning out after his long stint on the popular drama series Secret Life of Us, how he became self-destructive to mask the pain of Woodlands' death and how he still struggled daily with his loss.

"I don't think you really ever do overcome it, as such," Johnson said.

"I just think you try to learn to live with it -- which is what I am trying to do every day.

"At the moment I am trying to focus less on mourning the loss of her and more on trying to cherish the memory of her.

"It is a daily struggle, as anyone who has lost someone knows."

Johnson said he did not cope with his pain or his professional commitments in the months after Woodlands' death.

"I got really self-destructive," he said. "I kind of just spiralled after that and did anything I could to mask the pain, if you like.

"It is only really recently I have been able to come out and through that.

"I am still dealing with it.

"The problem was I could not get anything done.

"I left my job on Nova 100, regretfully, because I could not manage it. I could not get it done.

"I was not functioning. Now I have gone through the down to get back up, I can function now and get things done and actually finish them."

Johnson is returning to the stage after a seven-year absence, appearing in the touring production of Weary: The Story of Sir Edward Dunlop, which opens in Melbourne next month.

Article in Herald Sun Sunday

A real big review + interview

Johnson looks at travel life of us
5th June 2007, 7:45 WST

It has been almost two years since fans of Samuel Johnson got a good dose of aural satisfaction from the man who could have even the most devout vegetarian yearning for a Whopper.
But the bloke with the velvet voice is returning to the small screen as the high-energy presenter of Bluelist Australia, a fresh new four-part travel show on SBS.
A Bluelist is described as “recommending a travel experience” and the show is based on the Lonely Planet’s Bluelist, which started as a book before being developed into a website.
Bluelist Australia delves into some of Australia’s favourite destinations, presented in a “best of” format, ranging from conventional travel ideas such as Tastiest Food Safaris (part one) and Best Place To Get A Culture Fix (part two) to the more outrageous Top Spots To Take The Plunge (part two) and Top Natural Highs (part four).
A self-confessed gypsy, the former Secret Life of Us star said travelling was in his blood from an early age and he was thrilled to land a gig which would pay him to do what he loved. “If I plant myself for too long, I start to go insane,” he said. “The idea of settling down just doesn’t quite wash with me yet.”
He names a trip to China and Mongolia as his best overseas travel experience, but it was an encounter a little bit closer to home which landed him in front of the camera.
Johnson filmed a Bluelist of his own as an audition tape for the job — skydiving over the Great Ocean Road in Torquay.
“I caught the skydiving bug recently, thanks to a braver friend than me, and I can’t get enough of it now,” he said. “I’ve only done two jumps but I’m desperate for more. It’s a bit like tattoos — once you start you can’t stop.
“I knew the job was coming up and I was going anyway, so I filmed a bit of an intro and somehow got away with it.”
After spending 15 years as an actor, being told not to look at the camera, Johnson said it was difficult to adjust to looking straight down the barrel — which he does often and in close-up as the Bluelist presenter.
“It was really different for me, I’m settling into it, but it’s almost a different game entirely to acting,” he said. “As an actor, you’re used to getting scripts and a lot of presenting work is not strictly script based, so I feel like I’m in freefall in a way. I just tried to relax and be myself, within the pretty wacky framework.”
Rather than rehash the same hosts in each episode, Bluelist Australia has eight different travellers, including Johnson, from wide and varied walks of life, giving each story a different feel and sound.
The first episode features loud and effusive comic H.G. Nelson taking viewers on a tour of Australia’s tastiest food regions, followed by a journey of urban adventures with the more modest nature of actress and writer Marieke Hardy.
Nelson’s brash and open style is a refreshing change from the polished-to-perfection performances we’ve come to expect from TV presenters. “If Stefano doesn’t like it, I’ll punch him in the head,” Nelson says after choosing a wine to go with dinner prepared by Mildura restaurateur Stefano de Pieri.
Other hosts in the series are Triple J radio host Robbie Buck, former world champion surfer Barton Lynch, actress Susie Porter, young gun sailor Jesse Martin and MAX music channel host Yumi Stynes.
Viewers will be pleased to note that WA travel spots made the cut in several Bluelist categories. Margaret River is named as the third tastiest food spot in the country and AC/DC frontman Bon Scott’s grave in Fremantle is named as a must-do pilgrimage.
Johnson says sand surfing in Kalbarri was another local adventure which made the Bluelist, but his plans to grab that trip for himself were thwarted by Barton Lynch. “Unfortunately Barton stole sand surfing in WA,” Johnson said.
As much as he sings the praises of WA, Johnson has yet to visit the west coast of Australia, a fact he’s not proud of.
“I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to WA before,” he said. “A couple of times my plans have been thwarted through work but I definitely want to get down to Margaret River.” Bluelist Australia premieres tomorrow on SBS at 8pm

A review on Bluelist Australia

First Review: Bluelist Australia

Get ready for 20 to 1 meets Getaway with a dash of the offbeat.

Bluelist Australia is a travel guide put together by Lonely Planet, who asked Australians to nominate their favourite and best-kept secrets.

Hosted by actor Samuel Johnson, this half hour show isn't as traditional as the popular commercial offerings. For starters they're only travelling around Oz, so the budget feels decidely more modest. And the presenters aren't as Colgate perfect (and that's a good thing) as we're used to.

They've managed to throw in HG Nelson, Susie Porter, Jesse Martin, Marieke Hardy and Robbie Buck.

It also doesn't feel like there's quite so much product placement going on. You know that trick, "here we are from some tropical locale which just happens to be a destination of one of our show's sponsors."

So it's all fairly unassuming, and that's also a good thing.

Lonely Planet had thousands of Aussies logging on to its website to nominate their favourite travel experiences in Oz.

So I must admit I was a little disappointed to see what made the final cut.

The Yarra Valley? Kakadu? Margaret River? Kangaroo Island? Sure they're all perfectly lovely. But I was hoping for some undiscovered gem. At least HG Nelson in Mildura managed to entertain me.

And the MCG? Sydney Harbour. Yawn. C'mon guys, surprise me.

Marieke Hardy's urban tour of Canberra also missed its two biggest exports: Politics and Porn.

Don't get me wrong. Bluelist Australia is a diverting, colloquial, upbeat slice of Australiana.

If we'd had a few more of the closing videos sent in by viewers this would be a more interesting itinerary of hidden secrets.

Bluelist Australia premieres 8:00pm Wed June 6 on SBS.

More about Sam

Samuel Johnson hosts Bluelist Australia

Bluelist Australia

SBS, 8.00pm

A travel show with a twist, this collaboration with the guide book gods at Lonely Planet offers travellers a chance to get their own favourite travel experiences on air. Well-travelled locals have been submitting their tips to the Bluelist website, and the best suggestions have been road-tested by prominent Aussie personalities, including HG Nelson and Susie Porter. Hosted by actor Samuel Johnson (The Secret Life of Us), tonight this four-part series looks at Australia's tastiest food safaris and top urban adventures. Should be an interesting journey.

Keith Austin's review

n terms of enthusiasm, you can't fault this new series from Lonely Planet, though the first section was perhaps a little over-enthusiastic. Someone really needed to tell Greig Pickhaver to turn it down a bit - all that shouting at the camera wore me out.

Based on the popular Bluelist book, this energetic show, presented by the affable Samuel Johnson, reveals Australians' favourite travel experiences in Australia. To that end, Pickhaver aka H.G. Nelson goes to Mildura, foodie Matt Preston reveals his top three food spots and Marieke Hardy visits Canberra, voted top Australian city by the Bluelisters. I kid you not.
Samuel Johnson, who also hosts the program, shot to fame in the tremendously popular television drama The Secret Life of Us, for which he won an AFI award for best actor. He has appeared in a number of Australian feature films, including The Illustrated Family Doctor, and hosted his own radio show on Nova FM. A gypsy childhood took Samuel all over Australia; his career has taken him well beyond. Today he is a passionate traveller, non-stop talker and charity worker. In October 2004 he rode from Sydney to Melbourne on a 33-day, 1000-kilometre journey to raise money for CanTeen, a charity that helps young Australians living with cancer.

The Bluelist is all about experiential travel, and with his curiosity and genuine enthusiasm Samuel was the ideal presenter for Lonely Planet television - he turned up saying he didn't have a clue how to be a TV presenter but carrying an audition tape of his own Bluelist - 'Sky-diving in Torquay'. He got the job - hands down.

Bluelist Australia. A Review

Bluelist Australia

Lucy Beaumont, Reviewer
June 12, 2007

Samuel Johnson lacks Catriona Rowntree's rounded vowels but basically does the same thing.

Samuel Johnson, presenter of Bluelist Australia.

Wednesday June 13
8:00 PM

The travel endeavour is all about lists and much of any journey is taken up with various mental inventories. Sometimes it's what to pack: repellent, credit cards, condoms? Check. Other times it's who to call when things go wrong: Mum (short list that one). The longest list is of all the things you hope to see, which is why travel shows always include top-five, must-see destinations or best-ever beach escapes. Such lists also keep the maximum number of sponsors happy and the graphics department busy. So what makes Lonely Planet's latest television foray, produced with Tourism Australia, any different to Nine's Getaway?

Well, it has former Secret Life of Us star Samuel Johnson playing the role of Catriona Rowntree - he lacks her rounded vowels and pristine cosmetology but basically does the same thing, offering enthusiastic intros and lists of places and attractions. The lists themselves are apparently based on suggestions made by Lonely Planet readers and visitors to the travel publisher's www.bluelistaustralia.com website. The subject matter has been nudged towards "alternative" but the rankings don't reveal any super-secret spots. Of the top five coastal experiences, only the top spot is reserved for a lucky celebrity traveller; the rest are illustrated with what looks like stock footage.

Tonight it's surfer Barton Lynch on the dunes of Kalbarri, WA. The top cultural experience (presented by radio host Robbie Buck) is in Melbourne's backyard, or rather back laneways. Non-celebrity travellers have also submitted videos about their favourite places, though framing them in an old TV set image is a waste of screen space (they could have been introduced that way then expanded). They feel a bit like auditions for a travel show - say, Getaway? And extolling the virtues of Margaret River is hardly letting the cat out of the bag. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree web forums and Six Degrees television programs are more informative for those planning a more diverse itinerary.

Sam on Bluelist Australia

June 13, 2007

Bluelist Australia
8pm SBS

A new four-part series by Lonely Planet reveals Australian's favourite travel experiences. This series features some of Australia's most unique and thrilling travel experiences, road-tested by prominent Australian personalities. As well, it introduces the best travel videos submitted by contributors to the Australian Bluelist website. This episode features the tastiest food safaris and top urban adventures. Presented by actor Samuel Johnson.

This series reveals Australian's favourite travel experiences. Presented by actor Samuel Johnson, the program features some of Australia's most unique and thrilling travel experiences, road-tested by prominent Australian personalities. It also introduces the best travel videos submitted by contributors to the Australian Bluelist website. This episode features top natural highs and most amazing journeys.

Genre: Lifestyle/Travel/Holiday

Country: Australia

Rating: G

Duration: 30 mins