The Great Ramsay Street Shake-Up!
A massive revamp of the Neighbours cast line-up is about to see eight characters written out with a swag of “young and spunky” newcomers to give the ailing soap a breath of fresh air. Producers keen to boost the show’s popularity have also enlisted a team of consultants to oversee changes in set design, wardrobe and lighting. While long-serving cast members Ian Smith (Harold Bishop), Lucinda Cowden (Melanie Pearson), Mark Little (Joe Mangel) and Beth Buchanan (Gemma Ramsay) have chosen to leave the series, others to depart will be Amelia Frid (Cody Willis), Ben Guerens (Toby Mangel), Miranda Fryer (Skye Bishop) and Ian Williams (Adam Willis). Joining the series will be former Cleo covergirl of the year Rachel Blakely and former models Scott Michaelson and Andrew Williams. John Holmes, Network Ten’s executive producer of drama, said the show needed a revamp: “After five or six years, the show was looking very tired. It definitely slid in 1990. It went from being a boomer, especially in Melbourne, to getting same ratings the other soaps were getting. It needed a fresh approach. We need to get the young and spunkies back in and we’ve started that with Richard Huggett and Melissa Bell.” But despite the young and colourful revamp headed for the show, Holmes said Neighbours will not become another E Street. “E Street has a tougher edge, but Neighbours has never been about that. Neighbours is a light, easygoing show with a strong moral base. We’re not out to follow those tougher stories.”
Col’n finds true love… with Annie!
Actress and TV Week Logie Award winner Annie Jones has been signed to appear in two episodes of Network Ten’s Col’n Carpenter. Jones, who won a Logie for her performance in Jackaroo, will play Alison Button, the first true love for Col’n (Kim Gyngell, pictured). A spokesperson for the show says the actress is “delighted” to be returning to work at Ten, her home for several years when she starred in Neighbours.
Out of the shadows…
NIDA graduate Josephine Byrnes has only been acting professionally for 18 months but is already gaining the title Queen Of The Aussie Mini-Series. The young actress, who won a Logie Award nomination for her role in last year’s Shadows Of The Heart, has since filmed two more historically-themed mini-series – Half A World Away and Brides Of Christ (both coming to ABC) – but is afraid of becoming typecast. “I’ve loved the ladies I’ve played,” she told TV Week, “but I think it’s time I did something contemporary.”
A Country Practice star Matt Day has told TV Week he was ready to move on from the long-running series until producers came up with an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I’d been with the show two years, which is the longest run I’ve ever done,” he told TV Week. In trying to keep Day on board, the show’s writers had promised Matt some radical character changes following the departure of co-star Sophie Heathcote, who played his romantic partner for a year. Also, there was an increase in salary but Day says that money was not a factor. “Money wasn’t discussed until after the decision to stay was made,” he said.
Burke’s Backyard host Don Burke, whose company recently spent 18 months producing a one-off program about the environment, is unapologetic about his obsession for accuracy, particularly when it comes to the environment – even if it puts him offside with the ‘greenies’ and bureaucrats, and the scientific experts whom he claims are ego or grant-driven. “Much of what has been put out on the greenhouse effect has been unsubstantiated,” he told TV Week. “What has put out on recycling has been terribly misleading. If we lose the public by feeding them scientifically imprecise material, that would be a tragedy.”
E Street star Melissa Tkautz (pictured) has signed a contract to record three singles and an album for Polygram Records. The 17-year-old will have her first single, titled Read My Lips, debuted on Network Ten’s Video Hits later this month.
John Laws says…
”To the delight – and surprise, I’m sure – of Nine, the first Sale Of The Century shows with the new team (Glenn Ridge and Jo Bailey) attracted healthy ratings. So healthy, in fact, that in some viewing areas the opposition programs were out-rated. Glenn and Jo did a workmanlike job in their first nervous week. Naturally enough, Glenn lacked the polished zest of Tony Barber, but he showed enough to indicate that he may well be capable of assuming the departed supremo’s mantle. Whether Glenn and Jo can succeed in keeping Sale high in the ratings is going to be one of TV’s most intriguing test-cases.”
Program Highlights (Melbourne, May 11-17):
Saturday: Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson, A Country Practice star Joyce Jacobs (pictured) and Phil Smythe are contestants on this week’s Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune (Seven).
Sunday: SBS debuts a new documentary series Through Australia Eyes, a six-part series covering a wide variety of otherwise unrelated material – except they, as the title suggests, focus on life through Australian eyes. Seven crosses to the Gabba, Brisbane, for the AFL match between Brisbane Bears and St Kilda, followed by highlights of the Richmond versus Collingwood match. Sunday night movies are Breaking Point (Nine) and Cocoon – The Return (Ten), while Seven presents the debut of mini-series Family Of Spies (to be concluded the following night). Nine’s late-night line-up includes coverage of the Spanish 500cc Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix.
Monday: Ten presents a delayed telecast of the international event Save The Kurds – The Simple Truth, a charity concert to benefit the International Red Cross Relief Campaign for Kurdish refugees. The concert includes performances by MC Hammer, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Sting, New Kids On The Block, Gloria Estefan and Chris De Burgh.
Tuesday: In GP (ABC), Sister Julie Winters (Denise Roberts, pictured) feels she’s grown stale at the Ross Street surgery, and re-enters nursing – but discovers that nursing has become more demanding since she last did it. She also gets embroiled in a nurses’ strike after a patient is endangered by hospital understaffing. In Beyond 2000 (Seven), Andrew Carroll examines Indonesia’s fledgling aircraft industry and Simon Reeve introduces a cookware that allows omelettes to be cooked in 15 seconds.
Wednesday: ABC presents Spinning Out, Anne Deveson’s documentary which gives new understanding of the most misunderstood of all mental disorders – schizophrenia.
Thursday: Maggie Tabberer and Richard Zachariah return with a new series of The Home Show on ABC. In Chances (Nine), Charlie (Kimberley Davenport) announces she is pregnant – but who is the father-to-be? Is it scheming Alex (Jeremy Sims) or lovable Ben (Rhys Muldoon)?
Friday: Some changes starting in appear in the Network Ten schedule launched earlier this year – the 5.30pm game show Let’s Make A Deal appears for the final time, while Star Search moves to the new timeslot of Friday 7.30pm with new host Mike Hammond. Seven presents a delayed telecast of Friday night AFL – North Melbourne versus Adelaide.
Source: TV Week (Victoria edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 11 May 1991. Southdown Press