Soap Star Superstar: Maggie Kirkpatrick (Joan Ferguson aka The Freak)…


Maggie Kirkpatrick played Joan Ferguson aka The Freak in Australian soap Prisoner: Cell Block H from 1982 until 1986.


I began watching this show when it was repeated on UK television in the mid 90s. It used to be aired quite late at night so I would often have to record it and watch it the next day. I got hooked!

Set in Wentworth Detention Centre it followed a group of female inmates and prison officers. Since I also was a big fan of Home & Away and Neighbours it was interesting to see familiar characters from those shows making appearances.

The acting wasn’t great, the sets were cheap but, well, that’s what I loved about it.

Joan Ferguson was a nasty piece of work – a prison officer who made up her own rules and to this day every time I see someone put on a pair of leather gloves I get a shiver down my spine…


The Freak terrorized the prisoners and it seemed she would never get caught out. However, on rare occasions, you would see a softer side to her character…


As the show came to the end of it’s run it made sure it was going out with a bang and The Freak finally got what was coming to her after being set up…



The actress, Maggie, was born in Albury, New South Wales, to James and Crissie Downs. When she was seven months old her father was killed while on active national service as a soldier in North Africa.

Her role in Prisoner was her big break but she had other roles prior to playing Joan.

Maggie has appeared in Home & Away on two different occasions in 1991 and 2003 as two very different characters.

She did get involved in a musical version of Prisoner: Cell Block H in 1995 and is at this very moment in time still appearing on stage but this time as Madame Morrible in the hit musical Wicked.


Thanks for the memories Maggie!


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