Neighbours, an Australian soap opera, has boosted the careers of big names like Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. Since its debut in 1985, it has been Australia’s only year-round television show.
After 37 years on our television screens, it has now been reported that Neighbours will be cancelled. After being cancelled by UK broadcaster Channel 5, the popular soap has been unable to find a new home.
Neighbours premiered on the Seven Network in Australia, but was cancelled after four months due to low ratings. The show was soon moved to Network Ten, which included several new characters, notably Kylie Mitchell’s Charlene Mitchell.
Neighbours tracked the day-to-day lives of various families in legendary Ramsay Street during its tenure on television. But what happened to some of the show’s lesser-known stars who first featured on Neighbours?
Des Clarke – played by Paul Keane
Des was on his stag-do as he prepared to marry Lorraine Kingham in the first episode of Neighbours. However, things take a turn for the worse when he falls in love with the stripper hired for the cabaret.
He later struggled for Daphne’s affections, and the two were finally married in 1986. Des left Ramsay Street in 1990, but returned for the soap’s 35th anniversary 20 years later.
In real life, Paul struggled to cope with his celebrity and fought a ten-year battle with drug addiction. Paul ceased acting after leaving the show in the 1990s and went to work in a pub.
Jim Robinson – played by Alan Dale
Alan played Jim for 860 episodes, beginning with the first episode and ending with his on-screen death from a heart attack in 1993.
Alan struggled to obtain further acting work after leaving the show due to his typecasting as Jim, but after taking acting workshops in his 50s, he eventually achieved success in the United States and Australia.
Since then, he’s had roles on ABC’s Lost, Ugly Betty, and 24 as well as major blockbusters like Star Trek Nemesis and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Helen Daniels – played by Anne Haddy
Helen was Jim’s mother-in-law as well as Paul’s grandma. Helen lived on Ramsay Street after Jim’s death until actress Anne’s real-life death in 1997.
After Paul, she is the second-longest-serving original character on Neighbours. Anne was forced to leave Helen due to illness in 1997, after thinking that the finest finale for her character would be for Helen to be killed off.
Anne died on June 6, 1999, at the age of 68, at her home in Melbourne, of a kidney-related disease. In the United Kingdom, the show that aired the next day on BBC One finished with a tribute to her memory.
Paul Robinson – played by Stefan Dennis
Stefan is the show’s sole original cast member who hasn’t left. In 1990, he took a hiatus from filming, but in 2004, he returned to Ramsay Street, where he has remained ever since.
Stefan has previously been in shows such as The Bill, Casualty, and Dream Team, but he is best recognised for his role as Paul. He’s appeared in a number of major soap opera plots, including a ‘Who Dunnit’ plotline in which Paul was shoved from a mezzanine.
Daphne Lawrence – played by Elaine Smith
Daphne later played Des Clarke’s on-screen wife in Neighbours. She was on the show for three years before her character perished in a car accident.
Daphne was the first regular character to have a baby in Ramsay Street when she initially appeared in the first episode of Neighbours. She also became the first regular character to die.
Elaine, a Scottish-born actress, then returned to university to get a teaching degree. She started working as a theatre and primary school teacher in Sydney in 2017.
Shane Ramsay – played by Peter O’Brien
Shane was most known as Des’s love rival after he began dating Daphne, as well as Paul’s best friend. Shane was on the show for two years, and during that time he was involved in two car accidents, one of which resulted in a manslaughter accusation.
Shane moves to Ramsay Street with his wife Madge and stepdaughter Charlene in 1987, after travelling around Australia with his uncle Tom.
Peter went on to star in shows including Queer as Folk and Gossip Girl. In addition to The Bill, Casualty, and Doctor Who, he has appeared in episodes of The Bill, Casualty, and Doctor Who.
Max Ramsay – played by Francis Bell
Max was the father of Shane and Danny, as well as Maria’s spouse. Ramsay Street was named after Max’s grandfather, the patriarch of the Ramsay family.
Max was forced to leave the show in May 1986 as his contract was not renewed after 190 episodes. Francis suffered from depression after leaving Neighbours and died in 1994.
Julie Robinson – played by Julie Mullins
Vicki Blanche was originally cast in the part of Julie, but she left after only seven months. After actress Julie Mullins was cast in the role, the character was brought back.
Julie is Paul’s half sister and Jim’s stepdaughter, and she is known for her penchant to gossip and her nosy personality. Julie was murdered in a terrible murder mystery weekend in 1994, when her body was discovered at the foot of a stairway.
Julie returned to Ireland after leaving the programme and now works in theatre and as a writer.
Scott Robinson – played by Darius Perkins
Scott is Jim’s son as well as Paul and Julie’s brother. Scott was first played by Darius in 1985, but when Neighbours switched to Network Ten, the role was recast.
Later, Jason Donovan was cast in the role. When the episode about Scott and Charlene’s wedding aired in the UK, it received the best ratings for Neighbours ever, with 19.6 million viewers.
Darius went on to appear as Gary Samuels in rival Australian serial Home and Away after leaving Neighbours, but returned for a short role in Neighbours in 2013. After a long struggle with cancer, he passed away in 2019.