Sarah Potts (Shortland Street)

Sarah Potts (Shortland Street)
Sarah Potts
[[Sarah Potts Shortland Street.jpg|240px]]
Shortland Street character
Portrayed by Amanda Billing
Introduced by Harriet Crampton
Duration 2004-present
First appearance 14 September 2004
episode 3067
Classification Present; Regular
Occupation Doctor

Dr. Sarah Marjorie Potts[1] is a fictional character on the soap opera Shortland Street. She is played by Amanda Billing. First arriving in September 2004, the character has reached the record of one of the longest ever stint's in the soap's history, with only short term breaks every few years.

Sarah arrived to the show in 2004 as a potential love interest to Craig (Renato Bartolomei) and new doctor in the hospital's Emergency Department. Sarah's young brother Daniel (Jarred Blakiston) was soon revealed to be her illegitimate son and started to live with her. Sarah wed CEO Andrew (Paolo Rotondo) but the marriage was annulled when Andrew was revealed to be a new father. Finally getting together with Craig in 2006, the relationship didn't last and Sarah found herself marrying TK Samuels (Benjamin Mitchell), with the couple becoming hugely popular.[2] Having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008, Sarah found herself incapable of having children and separated herself from TK. After a one night stand with TK in 2010, Sarah gave birth to a daughter she named Matilda "Tillie" Potts (Nathan Anderson) in July 2011.

Sarah's feisty no nonsense attitude has led to her being both liked and despised in the fan community, including helping her win the Throng Shortland Street Fan Award for "Favorite Female Character" in 2006. Her personality has also caused her to clash with several key characters in the show with three major feuds being with Huia Samuels (Nicola Kawana), Brooke Freeman (Beth Allen) and Roimata Ngatai (Shavaughn Ruakere). However the character has also had many long running friendships, mainly with; Toni Warner (Laura Hill), Justine Jones (Laurie Foell) and Wendy Cooper (Jacqueline Nairn).


Creation and casting

Amanda Billing previously auditioned for the roles of lesbian nurse Maia Jeffries and the ill fated Avril Luchich before she was offered the role of Sarah in early 2004.[3] Sarah arrived to Shortland Street in September 2004, crashing into Craig Valentine's car. Her first line was: "Gotta go, this is the last thing I need right now." The character was described as "a good looking, vivacious and driven woman in her early 30s" and was "liked, easy-going and good-humoured".[4] In the casting of Sarah, it was suggested that producer's were carrying on the tradition of placing talented unknowns in starring roles.[4]

Billing took a four month break in November 2010 to star in a play[5] while Sarah was said to have moved to America.



Sarah arrived to Shortland Street and won a job working in ED under Craig Valentine (Renato Bartolomei). She started to date and married Andrew Solomon (Paolo Rotondo) but their marriage was annulled after Andrew left Sarah to be with his ex girlfriend and children. It was revealed Sarah was mother to 13 year old Daniel Potts (Jarred Blakiston) who was brought up as her brother. In 2005 he left to live with his father.

Sarah briefly dated a schoolboy and later conman Hamish (Phil Brown). She continually found herself attracted to Craig and started to date him before the two broke up due to his anger problems. They made up and dated again but broke up when Craig cheated on Sarah with Huia (Nicola Kawana), impregnating her. Huia's cousin TK Samuels (Benjamin Mitchell) comforted her through the ordeal and when Craig readmitted his love, Sarah was faced with a tough decision between Craig and TK. Sarah finally made a decision and in December 2006 asked TK to marry her.

The couple married in mid 2007 and later decided to have kids. However in 2008 after being diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis the couple suffer a shock when they learn Sarah's baby will be born with a deathly illness and it is terminated.

In 2009 Sarah welcomes back Daniel (Ido Drent) into her life and is saddened when she has to call the police on him. Sarah soon gets manipulated by Brooke Freeman (Beth Allen) into thinking TK is unhappy in the marriage as he wants children and she emotionally moves out to try make him happier. She rebounds into an affair with Maxwell Avia (Robbie Magasiva). Maxwell later cheats on Sarah with Vasa Levi (Teuila Blakely) and the two break up. Sarah and TK readmit their love and have sex, before Sarah decides to leave to the United States.

Sarah makes a surprise return to Shortland Street in March 2011 announcing she is pregnant with TK's child, a girl. Sarah has plans to get back together with TK but seeing he has moved on with Roimata (Shavaughn Ruakere), Sarah gives up hope. She gives birth to her daughter, Matilda "Tillie" Mareikura Potts (Nathan Anderson) in July 2011 after leaving TK's wedding. After having a severe relapse in her MS, Sarah tearfully hands over custody of Tillie to TK and Roimata. Sarah is taken to rehab.

Character Development

Craig Valentine

The character of Sarah was originally written into the show as a potential love interest to relatively new doctor, Craig Valentine. Sarah's first scene even involved her crashing into Craig's car, driven by his son Jake Valentine. Upon learning Sarah is trying for a job in his department, Craig opposes to her job application, nonetheless, CEO Andrew Solomon hires her. The two constantly argue, eventually calling a truce and by the end of Sarah's first week, audiences already began to suspect a romance between the two characters.[4] Billing offered an opinion as to why the two had such good chemistry saying; "I think you can find someone physically attractive but hate their guts, someone can irritate you heaps but you still find them a lovable rogue. The two characters are a lot alike, and that's why they spar. They're both headstrong and think that they're right more often than not."[6] Despite the duo's sexual tension at work, the two struggle to admit their feelings for each other due to the interference of Sarah's son Daniel and Craig's daughter Scarlett. The two do eventually get together in 2005 and according to publicists, the couples first kiss brought the building to silence.[6] Billing agreed saying: "We have monitors through the whole building and everyone was going, 'Bloody hell!' Their chemistry is quite extraordinary,"[6] Sarah becomes engaged to Andrew and Craig desperately tries to admit his love, even kissing her before the ceremony. In 2006 the two finally get together in what has been described as "Shortland Street's Steamiest ever scene."[3] However the two constantly argue and Craig cheats on Sarah. At the end of the year, Craig admits his love but Sarah chooses TK Samuels over him. On her wedding day to TK in 2007, Sarah decides to call off the marriage, fearing she still loves Craig. She visits Craig but he insists on driving her to the wedding himself. Sarah comes back from her honeymoon early to help Craig. In 2008 Craig diagnoses Sarah with Multiple Sclerosis. Upon resigning, Craig admits he will always love Sarah and the two share a moment before he is murdered later that evening. Sarah sings an emotional song at his service, highlighting his personality and kindness.

TK Samuels

With TK Samuels arriving in early 2006, Sarah found herself annoyed and conflicted with the newby immature doctor. However TK took a shine to Sarah and did all he could to impress her. Having found boyfriend, Craig cheating on her with TK's cousin Huia, Sarah used TK as a shoulder to cry on and the two soon got together. As 2006 ended, Sarah found herself torn between Craig and TK, eventually choosing and proposing to TK. The two wed in mid 2007, with Sarah initially cautious as she believed she may still love Craig. The two decided to start a family in late 2007 however TK soon voted against it and Sarah feared she had made a mistake marrying TK however the two soon made up and decided to try for a family again. The couple found themselves pregnant but the baby would have been born ill, so the pregnancy was terminated. Sarah broke up with TK when Brooke Freeman purposely drove a wedge between Sarah and her crush TK. The two set up a clinic in 2010 and Sarah later readmitted her love, causing a one night stand before Sarah left the country. Upon her unexpected arrival, Sarah announced she was pregnant with TK's child and she loved him.[7] However TK had moved on with Roimata and despite feelings for Sarah, announced it was over forever.

Billing acknowledged that TK and Roimata have good chemistry but praised TK and Sarah's possible rekindling saying; "Roimata and TK make a really good couple but Sarah and TK were really good too and wouldn't it be great for them to be a family?"[8]

Multiple Sclerosis

After suggesting her character have a sickness storyline, Billing was notified Sarah was to undergo a storyline where she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Producer Jason Daniel explained the situation; "As a continuing serial Shortland Street has the ability to explore situations and issues in considerable depth over long periods – and this is what we intend to do with Sarah’s multiple sclerosis."[9] In mid 2008, Sarah started to realize she was suffering from an illness which began to gradually affect her work. Ex boyfriend Craig Valentine diagnosed Sarah with multiple sclerosis, a fact Sarah kept kidden from husband, TK. The illness starts to seriously affect Sarah's fast paced job as a consultant in the Emergency Department. Sarah later reveals to TK the truth about her illness and TK goes into overdrive, changing her meal plans and exercise routines.[10] Sarah begun to attend MS support groups but struggled to come to terms with how sick she may become. Despite finally being award head of ED[11], Sarah realized she had to resign as a result of her eventual inability to perform such a fast paced job. Sarah also realizes her new pregnancy makes her MS symptoms stronger and is forced to terminate the baby. In late 2009 Sarah has a relapse in her MS symptoms, confirming her suspicion she will never heal and it will affect her chance of having children, causing her to leave TK. She has another relapse in mid 2010[12], cementing her relationship with Maxwell. In November 2010 Sarah leaves Ferndale, having won a position in a MS research team in the United States. However upon her return, she is finally pregnant. Once having given birth to daughter, Tillie in July 2011, Sarah has another relapse in her symptoms and begins to fear for her ability to mother Tillie. In September, Sarah's condition appears to be in remission but she suddenly has a severe attack, losing control of her speech, legs and arms, with Tillie unsupervised.[13] The traumatic experience leads Sarah to teafully hand over custody of Tillie to TK and Roimata. With little ability to move, Sarah is taken to rehab.

To accurately portray the symptoms of MS, Billing researched heavily, including using the internet, medical advisers and the advice of a friend with the illness.[8] Billing enjoyed playing the relapses, stating; "Sarah's Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis has meant when she has a relapse, I'm telling the story of people living with the condition. It makes work less 'soapy' and more realistic, more meaningful."[14]


The character has been highly praised, winning best female character in the Throng Shortland Street Fan Awards 2006.[15] However in the same awards she also won "Character you'd most like to kill off" and "Most boring storyline".[15] The character has also received a lot of dislike with Billing stating the role takes a toll and; "one doesn’t like to play a character that people don’t have a lot of sympathy for. Shes a good doctor but she’s a but useless in her private life."[16] In November 2006, Fiona Rae of The Listener magazine, criticized the storyliners of the show, suggesting they had turned Sarah: "into a self-absorbed witch with a “b”. Fortunately for us, she does a mean drunk and gets to embarrass herself heaps."[17]

She was called "popular" by producer Jason Daniel in 2008.[18] Billing herself reflected on the strong nature of her character, referring to her as "stroppy".[19] Billing received a nomination in the New Zealand TV Guide Best on the Box awards 2011 for "Best Actress"[20], losing out to Robyn Malcolm for her role in Outrageous Fortune. Billing also received a nomination for "Best Actress" at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen awards.[21] Again losing out to Malcolm.

The character's diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis has also helped educate New Zealanders about the illness.[22] Sufferers of multiple sclerosis praised the show, pleasing producer Jason Daniel who said; "The story has already examined the impact her diagnosis has on her personally and professionally. And in the future it will explore how she learns to live with her MS. I’m very pleased that the MS Society approves of our efforts so far, and I hope that audiences will continue to find Sarah’s story inspiring and uplifting."[9]

The July 2011 90 minute episode which concluded with Sarah giving birth, received incredibly high ratings with an audience of 834,200.[23] Billing offered an opinion on the reason as to why Sarah's storyline concerning her daughter was so well received, saying; "When theres children involved, and love and illness, it gets really hard and I think the audience loves that."[8] Producer, Steven Zanoski suggested part of the reason for the episodes success was the song Billing released as part of the marketing towards the Winter Season.[23]


  1. ^ "Shortland Street Episode 3275". Shortland Street. 2005-07-22.
  2. ^ Bennett, Cath (November 2009). "Accidental Stardom". Stuff. Retrieved August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Shortland Street Trivia Book. Penguin Publishers. May 2007. ISBN 9780143007173. 
  4. ^ a b c Farmer, Don (September 2004). "Masterton's very own star". Wairapa Times. Retrieved August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Shortland Street - Weeknights on TV2". Throng. November 2010. Retrieved August 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Barry, Rebecca (November 2004). "Shortland Street finds its romantic pulse". NZherald. Retrieved October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Shortland Street - weeknights on TV2". Throng. May 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Janie (22 September 2011). "Baby Heartache all too real". New Zealand TV Guide. 
  9. ^ a b "Shortland Street highlights MS Struggle". Multiple Sclerosis Society. October 2008. Retrieved October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Hot this week". Throng. September 2008. Retrieved August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Tuesday 26 August". Throng. August 2008. Retrieved August 2011. 
  12. ^ "Shortland Street - Weeknights on TV2". Throng. July 2010. Retrieved August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Shortland Street on TV2". Throng. September 2011. Retrieved October 2011. 
  14. ^ "Shortland Street Stars Summer Holiday Style". New Idea. 14 December 2009. 
  15. ^ a b "Shortland Street Fan award winners 2006". Throng. December 2006. Retrieved August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Torn Between Two Lover". New Idea. January 2007. 
  17. ^ Rae, Fiona (November 2006). "TV Week". Listener. Retrieved August 2011. 
  18. ^ "Shortland Street in March". Throng. March 2008. Retrieved August 2011. 
  19. ^ Lang, Sarah (October 2009). "Amanda Billing: Why I won't diet". Woman's Weekly. Retrieved August 2011. 
  20. ^ "Best on the Box nominees 2011". TVNZ. February 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  21. ^ "Shorty girls on top". Throng. July 2007. Retrieved August 2011. 
  22. ^ "The benefits of volunteering for the MS Street Appeal - an MS Nurse's Perspective". MS society. unspecified. Retrieved August 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Shortland Street hits the ratings jackpot". Throng. July 2011. Retrieved October 2011. 

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