Home / Blog / Inside Thorn Birds stars' 40

Inside Thorn Birds stars' 40

Mar 26, 2023Mar 26, 2023

Despite the love triangle on-screen, Thorn Birds stars Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward have been happily married.

Get the latest top news stories sent straight to your inbox with our daily newsletter

We have more newsletters

Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward's characters may not have lived happily ever after on The Thorn Birds, but their real life relationship has resulted in a marriage that's lasted 40 years.

The romantic TV series saw the couple feature in a love triangle as English actress Rachel played the lead opposite Bryan - who portrayed Meggie's future husband Luke - with Richard Chamberlain taking the role of Ralph, a conflicted priest.

Although the on-screen passion was between Meggie and Ralph, there was a happily ever after for real-life couple Rachel and Bryan - the two fell madly in love and wed just months after filming ended in 1983.

Bryan told the Mirror : "It's amazing to think Rachel and I have been married almost 40 years. You cannot underestimate how huge the show was all over the world.

"But whatever work opportunities came from that, I will always be more grateful to it for my 40-year marriage and family."

From the start, he says, there was an attraction between himself and Rachel. Playing around on set, he read her palm and accurately predicted she would have three children. He laughs: "Yes, I did say that but I didn't say they would be mine!"

Bryan has enjoyed a long Hollywood career in a string of movies, including Cocktail, Gorillas in the Mist, Australia and Along Came Polly.

And now the 75-year-old has marked a return to TV in mystery drama Darby and Joan opposite Greta Scacchi. Currently streaming on Acorn TV, it tells of two lone strangers – a retired cop and a widowed English nurse – who embark on an epic journey in northern Australia.

Rachel, meanwhile, has carved out a career as a director having cut down on acting roles after The Thorn Birds. Now 64, she has spoken candidly about how publicity surrounding the show – the most-watched series after Roots – left her with a mass of insecurities.

Oxfordshire-born Rachel beat stars Jane Seymour, Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Newton-John to the Meggie role.

Bryan says: "There was a lot of attention on Rachel – it wasn't something she could handle. I doubt anyone really would. But we had a great time making the show and ultimately we each met the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with.

"There is always that balance of good and bad in life. Nothing is ever one thing or the other, is it?"

Rachel has previously revealed her initial attraction to Bryan was pretty basic... it was his pecs that won her attention. Richard Chamberlain, the fictional object of Meggie's lust, said he had never seen "two people more in love".

In typical Aussie-bloke style, Bryan is a bit cooler on the subject, saying only: "I could tell there was attraction on her part and the feelings were reciprocated."

But their decision to tie the knot came in the most unlikely way. "I was in London to film Give My Regards to Broad Street with Paul McCartney. Rachel came with me," recalls Bryan.

"We took a week off to go to Ireland and had this massive argument. I just thought if we're gonna argue like that, we may as well get married."

They wed that year at Rachel's childhood home, Cornwell Manor, a Georgian mansion in Oxfordshire, before moving to Australia. The pair settled in Sydney and their children Rose, 38, Matilda, 35, and James, 30, now all live nearby.

If, like us, you love a good dose of celebrity gossip then we've got you covered.

From Lorraine Kelly and Janey Godley to Gordon Ramsay and Sir Rod Stewart, our weekly Showbiz newsletter is packed with the latest news on your favourite stars from Scotland and beyond.

Signing up couldn't be easier! Simply enter your email address in the box further up the page or click here to view our wide range of newsletters.

In 2019 they became grandparents for the first time when Matilda had a son, Zan.

Unusually, Bryan was present at the birth, although it wasn't planned that way. "No one in the delivery room told me to get out so I didn't," he explains. It was just supposed to be gran-to-be Rachel at the birth but it seems the labour caught Matilda's parents off guard.

Bryan says: "We were having dinner with the now Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, when there were lots of messages from Matilda screaming 'Mum is supposed to be here.' We both raced to the hospital and I sat behind Matilda, patting her head. I'd seen the births of all my children. I didn't see why I should leave this one."

Matilda now also has a one-year-old girl Anouk. At the mention of her and Zan, now three, Bryan's eyes light up. "I just love playing with them – they are adorable."

Becoming a grandparent meant the separation from family to film Darby and Joan became more difficult.

Bryan says: "I did miss all of them terribly on this shoot. But with fewer responsibilities, he and Rachel are able to indulge more in their other great passion – horse riding. Bryan says: "I've been riding ever since Thorn Birds but Rachel grew up on horses."

The pair have galloped off to the hills in Bulgaria, Israel and Canada and are planning a trip a little closer to home in New Zealand. When not travelling, the couple spend some free time watching British telly via streaming platforms.

So, apart from having the same travel and TV interests, what's the secret to a long-lasting marriage?

Bryan doesn't miss a beat: "The main thing is to say Yes to your wife all the time and if anything goes wrong say 'It's my fault'. If men understood that they'd be happier."

Darby and Joan is streaming on Acorn TV.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - sign up to our daily newsletter here .

Phillip Schofield sleeps wearing ski goggles following surgery for 'debilitating' eye condition

Prince William 'jumped in car to confront Harry' over Meghan bullying claims

ITV Loose Women star blown away by former X Factor star Ray Quinn's new look