Star’s doubts about soap comeback


Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Neighbours star Anne Charleston has admitted she was “dubious” about returning to the soap, because of the elaborate way her character had been written back in.

Stars of the Australian soap past and present attended a party at the Cafe de Paris in London to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary.

Charleston, Stefan Dennis, Tim Phillipps and Olympia Valance were among the cast who had flown over from Down Under especially to celebrate with British fans of the Channel 5 show, as well as former cast members Mark Little and Holly Valance.

Charleston, 72, played no-nonsense coffee shop owner Madge Bishop for 13 years in the soap, until her character died of cancer in 2001. Madge is returning for the 30th anniversary episodes in a vision to widower Harold Bishop (Ian Smith).

The actress compared her comeback storyline to Dallas.

“I was dubious,” she admitted. “Because it seemed a bit like Patrick Duffy waking up in the shower.

“But once I had a meeting with Ian and the producers, they convinced me that it would be done with taste and integrity. And hopefully that’s how it will display itself.”

Charleston said working with Smith again was like “putting on a pair of old shoes”.

Dennis, 56, has played Neighbours villain Paul Robinson since the soap begin in 1985.

The actor admitted when he first came to the UK back in the 80s he was shocked by how the British audience had taken Neighbours to their hearts.

He said: “We knew nothing. We knew that it had become popular over here, but we had absolutely no idea of the popularity and the fanatical popularity that it had achieved at the early, early stage.

“So for want of a better expression we were lambs to the slaughter. We weren’t prepared for any of it. It was just this bombardment of fanatics. It took us by storm.”

Mark Little, 55, played loveable layabout Joe Mangel from 1988-1991 and returned for the 20th anniversary in 2005.

The comedian revealed he was asked by producers to tone down Joe’s Australian-ness, but in the end that was what the British fans loved.

He said: “I only did three years, but it just seemed to stick in people’s memories and people’s hearts.

“It was weird. I hadn’t expected it. I tried to give him a bit of Australian lingo that was sort of dying out, and dragged it back into the language. Chooks and galahs and mongrels and all that.

“At the time they were saying, ‘You can’t really use any of these words, England has cottoned on to it, you might have to tone this down because they won’t understand what you’re talking about.’

“And I said ‘They’ll learn!’ And they did! And I think one of the things people like about Joe is his Australian-ness.”

The soap officially celebrates its 30th anniversary today.

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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