'The mind of an artist, the body of a labourer' is the way a CES vocational guidance officer described John Wood in the 1960s - and promptly sent him off to start a job as a brickie's labourer! While they're words John has never forgotten, he's certainly proven them wrong. Born in Melbourne in 1946 into a working class family, acting was just not something anyone did professionally. While he obviously had a natural talent, John's passion for acting saw him fail his secondary school Leaving Certificate. At 16, he landed a role in the school production of The Fish, a farce by Yves Gabrol. Unfortunately the play was at his old school, and John put so much time into the production that he neglected to sit for his final exams at his new school! Convinced he needed a 'real job', John joined the Victorian Railways as a clerk. Thankfully his ex-English teacher, John Ellis, returned from overseas and, with wife Lois, formed the Melbourne Youth Theatre, a drama group for people under 26. John performed in its first production Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, then Eh?, a comedy by Henry Livings, directed by Max Gillies. Lois Ellis gave John the push he needed, one day handing him an entry form into NIDA. He was accepted and at 21, John and his girlfriend, Leslie (now his wife of nearly 30 years), moved to Sydney in 1967. NIDA usually required entrants to have at least that missing Leaving Certificate, but luckily they made an exception for John and even granted him a scholarship - of $6 a fortnight. To pay the bills, he worked the lights at Neutral Bay's Music Hall and was overawed by stars such as Benita Collings - but felt deep down that Chekhov and Shakespeare were more his style. Yet fresh out of NIDA in 1969, he landed a guest role on Channel Seven's half-hour series Barrier Reef (1971). His first stage role was as Happy in Death of a Salesman at the Old Tote (now the Sydney Theatre Company), which toured NSW. On New Year's Eve 1970, John and Leslie married. They now have two adult daughters: Meg and Lexie. John, Leslie and baby Meg moved back to Melbourne in 1974 to be near her grandparents. John had signed a 12-month contract with the Melbourne Theatre Company, performing in plays such as Jumpers, Last of the Knucklemen and All My Sons. Then the writer in him reared its head and John decided to 'give up acting for a while' and applied for a Literature Board Grant in 1975. As fate would have it, he was immediately offered the role of Sugar Renfrey on the ABC TV production of Power Without Glory (1976) - John snapped it up and sent back the grant from the Literature Board! His ABC appearance spawned offers to appear on shows such as Bellbird (1967), Lawson's Mates, The Truckies (1978) (for which he wrote his first TV script), Catspaw (1978) and End of Summer in the late 1970s. Then came a strange chain of events. John fell out with MTC over his TV appearances and he tired of playing 'silly roles' in the soaps. He turned to writing again and completed 15 episodes of Cop Shop, 15 of Prisoner and 15 of The Sullivans. In 1981, he got a gig in an Adelaide production, Lulu, with Judy Davis. The following year he moved to Adelaide and began acting with Jim Sharman's 12-man Lighthouse Company. They performed the world premiere of Patrick White's Signal Driver. In 1983, the company toured Sydney, successfully performing Twelfth Night and Netherwood '. As a direct result of the plays, John was offered the lead role of magistrate Michael Rafferty in Rafferty's Rules (1987) on Channel Seven. He filmed the pilot in 1984 and starred in the hit drama until 1989. In 1988 and 1989 John won TV Week Logie Awards for Most Outstanding Actor for his portrayal of Rafferty. Despite the show's success, it was a relief to move on and back to Melbourne and his loved ones. John seized the opportunity to get back on the stage, appearing in Chess, The Musical, Love Letters, Away, A Flea In Her Ear, Another Time, King of Country, Jonah, The Trackers of Oxyrhyncus, Brittanicus and For Julia from 1990 to 1992. In 1993, John got another incredible opportunity. Tired of waiting, he was about to accept a role in the soap, Paradise Beach, when the offer to make the pilot of Blue Heelers (1994) finally came through. Recognising Blue Heelers' potential to be a huge hit, he jumped at the chance to star as Sergeant Tom Croydon of the Mount Thomas police. Shooting the drama in Melbourne also enabled John - for the first time in years - to be based with his family at their country property about 40 minutes out of Melbourne. Keen to combine his writing and acting, John has written three episodes of Blue Heelers in the past few years and has also managed to combine several theatre roles with his regular work on the hit drama. In 1998 he played Jock in the Melbourne Theatre Company's five-week season of The Club. In 1999 he played Harry Brock in the MTC's Born Yesterday with Alison Whyte and several actors from former cop shows, including Gil Tucker, Terence Donovan and John McTernan. John won the Green Room Award for Best Actor for that performance. In the same year John played the headwaiter in She Loves Me with Blue Heelers co-star Lisa McCune. John always has creative ideas circulating in his head and he currently has several projects on the brew, including a children's television series, a sitcom, a stage play and a movie. In 1998 he became a board member of the Playbox Theatre Company and in 1999 became a spokesperson for Friendship Day, run by the Starlight Foundation. His wife Leslie is councillor for the Shire of Yarra Ranges and is the Labor candidate for the seat of Monbulk in the next State Election.