From Kylie Minogue to Chris Hemsworth, a number of household names had their start in the long-running Australian soap Neighbours—but where are they now?
Everybody needs good neighbours, but it seems Channel 5 doesn’t agree. They’ve cancelled the long-running soap, which is now set to end this summer after 37 years.
These days hardly anybody in Australia watches Neighbours with only around 100,000 viewers tuning—less than 0.4 per cent of the population. In the UK, however, it remains moderately popular, with 1.5 million Brits still switching on for their sunshine fix. Consequently, Fremantle (the company that make the show) say that the show can’t continue without the funding provided by a British broadcaster.
"In the UK, however, it remains moderately popular, with 1.5 million Brits still switching on for their sunshine fix"
In soapland, Neighbours has at times provided a light-hearted antidote to the more grim reality offered by British soaps. A number of star names cut their teeth on Ramsay Street before moving on to bigger things. Here, we celebrate some of those who made it really big.
Kylie Minogue © Renan Katayama via Flickr
Kylie was catapulted to stardom when she played the role of mechanic Charlene in the late 1980s, and began her music career while still on Ramsay Street. Eventually, in 1988, she left to concentrate solely on the music, which was a risk that paid off. 34 years later, she has sold 80 million records, had seven UK number one singles and won a Grammy.
In 1987, Crowe worked with Kylie when he played rogue Kenny Larkin in four episodes. It was only a few hours’ work, but it featured a moment of action in which Crowe has to punch Craig McLachlan at Lassiter’s.
Crowe would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 for his epic performance as Maximus in Gladiator. Since then, other memorable performances have included the mathematician John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World and Detective Richie Roberts in American Gangster.
Twenty years ago, a teenage Chris Hemsworth very briefly appeared in an episode of Neighbours. His character has to call the police after a robbery takes place at the store he works at with Steph Scully. Nowadays he is best known as Thor, having played the Marvel character in ten movies in the past 11 years.
Chris Hemsworth speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Thor: Ragnarok" © Gage Skidmore via Wiki Commons
From 2008 to 2011, Robbie played the part of student Donna Freedman. She was initially just a guest character, but Robbie’s performance impressed the right people, and she became a member of the main cast.
Since leaving the show, Robbie has forged a successful career in Hollywood as a leading lady, having made her name in The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese. High-profile roles since then have included Harley Quinn in three DC films, figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya and actress Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
The trajectory of Alan Dale’s career is interesting to say the least. After his eight-year stint as disciplinarian Jim Robinson came to an end, Dale spent the best part of a decade struggling to find acting work. At the age of 52, he decided to move to America to take acting lessons, and then his career took off big-time. Since then, he has appeared in ER, The X-Files, The West Wing, 24, Lost, Ugly Betty, Star Trek: Nemesis, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to name but a few.
Guy Pearce spent four years as teacher Mike Young and appeared in nearly 500 episodes of Neighbours in the 1980s before embarking on a successful career in Hollywood. Arguably the film that introduced Pearce to American filmgoers was LA Confidential, which funnily enough also starred Russell Crowe. Three years later, Pearce bagged the leading role in Christopher Nolan’s Memento and he hasn’t looked back.
Of course, one’s idea of success is actually quite subjective. Finding fame and fortune in Hollywood and beyond is all well and dandy, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. One of the most popular characters is surely Harold Bishop (played by Ian Smith) who is beloved by Neighbours fans up and down the country. Throw in the Aussie sun and perhaps a more relaxing way of life—is it any wonder many stay down under?
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