Elspeth Ballantyne [1] [3] [4] (born 20 April 1939) is an Australian actress of stage and screen . She is perhaps best known for her television soap opera roles including librarian Lori Chandler in rural series Bellbird (TV series) ​, as compassionate prison officer Meg Jackson (later Meg Morris) in Prisoner (1979–86), (better known as Prisoner: Cell Block H in the USA and UK), and as coffee shop owner Cathy Alessi in Neighbours (1992–93) [3] ​.


Ballantyne was born into a showbiz family in Adelaide, South Australia,and is the daughter of Colin Sandergrove Ballantyne [2] an Australian actor, playwright and photographer who was head of the South Australian theatre company . Having started her career as a laboratory Technician with the Royal Adelaide Hospital, she then attended the prestigious drama school, the National Institute for Dramatic Arts. She went on to act in the rural soap opera, Bellbird , as librarian Lori Chandler screened on ABC. [4]

Ballantyne subsequently played compassionate prison officer, Meg Jackson in the soap opera, Prisoner . Ballantyne was the only actor to stay with the series for its entire eight-year run. She would later reprise her famous role of Meg in the original stage tour of Prisoner: Cell Block H – The Stage Play , which toured the UK in 1989.

In the early 1990s, she had a stint in Channel Ten soap opera Neighbours, as part of the Italian "Alessi" family playing Cathy Alessi, with husband Benito Alessi ( George Spartels), and sons Marco Alessi ( Felice Arena) and Rick Alessi ( Dan Falzon). She later appeared in feature films The Caterpillar Wish as Mrs. Woodbridge, and in Moonlight & Magic as a thrift shop owner Desma. In this latter film, she was reunited with former Prisoner co-stars Maxine Klibingaitis and Reylene Pearce. Ballantyne also appeared in the drama short film, Twenty Five Cents (2007), and as the wheelchair-bound matriarch in the short The Last Tupper (2011). She played Maxine in the Boronia movies, Boronia Boys (2009) and Boronia Backpackers (2011) and Paper Giants: Magazine Wars in 2013.

Personal life

Ballantyne has two children from her marriage to actor Dennis Miller, whom she was married to from 1968-1977. She is the sister of film producer Jane Ballantyne.

Filmography [3]