Leanne from reception, 19??-2024
Leanne from reception, 19??-2024

Pop CultureJuly 10, 2024

Goodbye, Ferndale’s rose: An obituary for Leanne from Shortland Street

Leanne from reception, 19??-2024
Leanne from reception, 19??-2024

Tara Ward remembers the dearly departed, extremely unforgettable Leanne Miller.

We are gathered here today to acknowledge the tragic passing of Leanne Miller, who last night shuffled off this mortal coil after a short illness. Despite working in a hospital that recently put a pig’s heart inside a human body, there was apparently nothing Shortland Street could do to save the beloved mother, friend and fire warden. Official complaints about Leanne’s care should be made c/- Chris Warner’s Beard, Shortland Street, New Zealand, The World, The Universe.  

A familiar face at Shortland Street hospital since 2010, Leanne was well known to the poor, pasty and pustulent. Only a few weeks ago, having dumped her girlfriend Ros while they travelled the world, the part-time psychic and full-time hornbag returned to Ferndale with mysterious health symptoms. Among those familiar corridors, Leanne found herself pursued by the ghost of her dead granddaughter, who blithely informed Nana Lee: “you’re going to die”.

And die she did. 

For a woman so full of life and energy, Leanne’s death from cancer was a miserable affair. She lay unconscious in a hospital bed for days, no doubt dreaming about the time she touched tongues with TK Samuels in the hospital car park. After twitching uncontrollably every time her daughter Nicole yelled at someone, it was the power of (Dr) Love that finally lifted Leanne to her next spiritual plane. “You will always be in my heart,” Chris Warner told her, even though he’d probably also said that to the bottle of whiskey he’d necked hours earlier. 

It was music to Leanne’s weary ears. She always loved Chris, even during his current “man in a cave” era. She squeezed his hand, just like she had squeezed a newfangled invention called a selfie stick back in 2015. Then, she was gone. 

The queen on her throne (Photo: SPP)

It was a common end for an uncommon woman. Leanne’s death should have come from something spectacular, like being flung out of a cannon into an exploding Mt Ferndale, or collapsing from exhaustion after a marathon cosplay sex session with much younger lover Damo from IT. Leanne was someone who gave kissing lessons to her colleagues and loved a cheese and pineapple hedgehog. She walked down the aisle to ‘Jezebel‘ and once woke up on the operating table in the middle of a facelift. Staff still talk in hushed tones about the time she instigated a game of “Pass the Cucumber” at Harper Whitley’s hen night. Nothing about Leanne was ordinary. 

Leanne arrived in Ferndale as Nicole’s mother, but once she got behind that reception desk, she stepped into her potency as a complex woman of passion, pride and occasionally, illegal drugs. She was known for speaking her mind, or as Nicole put it, being an “emotionally manipulative, passive aggressive control freak”. Leanne’s tongue was as sharp as her instinct, her loyalty as fierce as her skill at changing the photocopier toner. If there was a problem, Leanne probably had something to do with it. She won Lotto twice, and only lost the ticket once. 

Probably looking for that Lotto ticket (Photo: SPP)

As a deeply spiritual person, Leanne was on an eternal journey of self discovery. Where once she struggled to pronounce her colleague’s name correctly, she would later organise free te reo Māori classes for the hospital. As for her love life, Leanne learned to embrace the passions that burned deep within, even when it had disastrous consequences. When her boyfriend Graham discovered Leanne pashing her secret lesbian lover Ros, he promptly had a heart attack and died. She married two different men (at different times) in the same courtyard at the IV, and only one of them fell overboard on their honeymoon cruise. Leanne had fire in her heart and heat in her loins and she wasn’t afraid of either. Whatever it took to open her third eye, Leanne was keen.

Leanne is survived by daughter Nicole, sons Eric and Eddie, daughter-in-law Maeve, former stepson Marty, and several grandchildren (both ghostly and of the flesh). Her legacy will endure not only as the best receptionist Shortland Street has ever seen, but as the woman who went viral for impersonating a turkey. “She always wanted more out of life until the very end,” Dr Love said moments after Leanne’s death. “YOLO!” Leanne gobbled in 2016. YOLO, indeed. 

Shortland Street screens on TVNZ2 on weeknights at 7pm and streams on TVNZ+. 

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