A woman was killed, bystanders seriously injured and a very nice Jaguar destroyed when a car-bomb went off outside an Auckland hospital last night.

The victim blown to the heavens was Huia Samuels, chief executive of Shortland Street, a private clinic in Ferndale notorious for breeding romantic relationships among the staff.

It is not yet known if Ms Samuels' body parts were salvageable - but the Jag will never go again.

It is understood Ms Samuels was pregnant to co-worker Dr Craig Valentine, who was working in surgery at the time of the blast.

Ms Samuels was last seen in an intense argument with Dr Valentine's girlfriend and co-worker, Dr Sarah Potts, whose last words to her rival were: "You and your baby can go to hell."

Police are investigating.

Rumours are also swirling about a pharmaceutical company with ties to the clinic, and the disappearance of the car's owner, Anthony Richards, after the explosion.

Yesterday, the clinic carpark - normally a haven for the smokers on the medical staff - resembled a warzone. One victim lay groaning after a part of the car imbedded itself in his leg.

A couple who were looking pretty chuffed to be leaving the hospital had to turn around and go straight back in. Dr Potts was also hurt in the blast, and her head had to be stitched - and she's usually such a good-looking woman...

Seriously though, there would have been few fans of the soap not scratching their heads and wondering if they'd accidentally flicked onto the world news last night. A civil union of the Street's lesbian couple? Sure. A possible bird flu-like pandemic? No problem. But a core cast member of Shorty obliterated by a car-bomb?

"Baghdad comes to Shortland Street," hoots producer Jason Daniel like a sensational newspaper headline. "I don't think anyone will have seen that coming." Least of all actor Nicola Kawana, who played Huia.

It's tempting to wonder if her character's violent departure was a case of revenge.

In August, reports revealed that Kawana wasn't exactly stoked about being eliminated from the show and had decided to make some noise. She didn't show up for work, said the report, disrupting the tight filming schedule.

Kawana's fictional alter ego had also made noises about leaving. So, technically, Huia could have been axed by the writers simply putting her on a plane, never to be seen again.

Daniel laughs off suggestions that Kawana's antics were enough to put the writers in a murderous frame of mind. Shortland Street is written seven weeks in advance, and her explosive demise was well known to Kawana before she made her disapproval known, he says.

But he does make the point that Huia was originally written as a short-term character and says Kawana should be happy with her extra 18 months on the show.

"If ever there was a job that's not a job for life it's as an actor in a TV series," Daniel says.

"In order to have these kinds of stories where we shake things up, we have to make big decisions about writing characters out.

"I think it's quite unreasonable to be upset about it. I don't quite know what Nicola's beefs were."

Kawana has declined to comment.

Despite her businesslike manner, comments posted on streettalk.co.nz suggest Huia was a much-loved character.

But Daniel says there was not much more that could have come out of her character.

Her love triangle with Sarah and Craig had been drawn out over almost a year, and there were more interesting shifts in dynamics as Sarah became linked with TK.

Meanwhile, the plot of Tania, Ant, and his battles with the pharmaceutical company, was gaining momentum.

"The predictable story would have been that Ant was the victim," Daniel says. "Obviously, he was intended to be."

October might seem a little early for a car-bomb but the creative team were looking for a way to snowball into the Christmas cliffhanger.

Today and tomorrow's episodes will deal with the aftermath, and Huia's tangi, filmed at a marae (with English sub-titles), will be held on Monday.

Later, a documentary film crew will show up at the clinic and try to decipher the events from another perspective.

The episode also opens up several storylines, new characters and conundrums that will continue into the new year: Who will replace Huia as chief exec? How will Craig's grieving affect his relationship with Sarah? How will TK deal with the loss of his mentor? Where did Ant go? Will Tania crumple into a drug-addled heap? Is terrorism so widespread it has reached our national soap?

"We're living in a world now where bits of terrorism pop up all over the place," says Daniel. "Who would've thought Bali a couple of years ago? There have also been some scary incidents in schools, not just in the US but here, too. You look at the reports of how teachers are treated by their students, so I don't think any of it is unbelievable.

"We don't want to create a precedent but we always like to look at the world around us and think, 'What if?' "

The writers sought advice from the police and the Army bomb squad, and found there have been fatalities in New Zealand from car-bombs, the last one about 10 years ago. But most were not related to terrorists - or pharmaceutical companies, for that matter - but to soured relationships.

"So it not only can happen here," Daniel says, "it does happen here."

Even more worrying was how easy it was to learn how it's done.

The hard part about capturing it on camera was not the actual explosion, agrees former Shortland Street star Angela Bloomfield, who directed the episode.

"We had one shot at it so we had to make sure we were more than ready and knew what we were getting before we blew it up," she says.

"The actual blowing up the car is the easy part.

"Before that you have to make sure you've got the shots you need around it and that the actors are in the right positions around the car.

"Then there's the aftermath - how many people were hit by flying debris. Those moments were harder to shoot than actually locking off three cameras."

If you have grandiose ideas about the Shortland Street budget, consider this: Ant's prized Jag was not such a hot ride after all.

"It was a beat-up," says Bloomfield. "One side was completely totalled so we've always shot it from the other side. It's all a trick."

Let's hope it stays that way.

LOWDOWN
What: Shortland Street's car bomb shocker that saw the end of Huia Samuels (Nicola Kawana).
When: Last night. But you can catch up by watching the aftermath today and tomorrow, and the tangi episode on Monday (TV2, 7pm).
Director: Former Street actor and Dancing with the Stars contestant, Angela Bloomfield.