> Love Thy Neighbour: Kyle Canning
by Carol Ann Wood
Kyle Canning, school bully, partly responsible for a canoeing accident in which
Kinski went missing and suffered amnesia; blackmailer of brainy pupil Sunny, to get her to write
his English essays; class clown. Whilst newer Neighbours fans might easily believe in a past as
class clown, the rest is harder to digest. Because Kyle, played superbly by Chris Milligan for eight
years, is generally an affable bloke, even if he is stubborn and sometimes makes stupid decisions.
It’s taken a while, and the firm guidance of gran Sheila, to change Kyle into a responsible adult.
Sheila arrived on a visit to her grandson to keep tabs on him, but ended up staying, and with
hindsight, it’s probably a good thing she did. She’d already played a big part in Kyle’s formative
years, due to his erstwhile father Gary’s disappearing act, and flighty mum Sharon’s preoccupation
with her string of boyfriends. If it wasn’t for Sheila’s presence, who knows if Kyle would have gone
down the same dodgy route as Gary! As with all characters whose stay in the street has been
lengthy, it is impossible to collate his every storyline into one tribute. Instead, I’m going to look
back at some of my own favourite moments with Dial-A-Kyle.
Kyle first appeared as a guest character, rather like present day Jayden Warley. His early scenes saw
him in trouble for school Muck Up Day offences and other misdemeanours. Kyle didn’t excel
academically, and we assumed his behaviour was related to feelings of inadequacy. That was all we
had to go on, as it would be some time yet before we could piece together his familial backstory. By
the time he became a regular, his character had started to change. Young Kyle morphed from being
a bit of a bad lad, into a laid-back, down-to-earth bloke whose heart is in the right place. A good
looking guy, he was never short of girlfriends, initially mainly brief flings and one-night hook ups.
Playing the field was part of Kyle’s teenage lifestyle – and there’s nothing uncommon in that – but
it was annoying to realise that whilst he prided himself as being a bit of a babe magnet, he tended to
expect his girlfriends to be sweet and innocent. His tenure in the street has since included several
brief romances, an inadvisable fling with Kate Ramsay, a girlfriend’s pregnancy (ending in a
miscarriage), a marriage, a break-up, a new romance, and a reconciliation.
Kyle is a home bod, and whilst he has successfully fulfilled his dream of setting up a handyman
business, that’s the extent of his horizons. A good, honest living and a few cold tinnies with his
mates suits him fine. As he got older, it was clear that he also wanted to find the right girl, and settle
down to raise a family. His first serious romance was with Jade Mitchell, Sonya’s younger sister,
with whom he shared a house with at one point. They were just friends, then gave in to their
passions and spent the night together. Kyle, however, ran scared, and decided he didn’t want
anything heavy, so suggested they become ‘friends with benefits’. Like Kyle, Jade had never had a
serious relationship before, and she agreed to this arrangement. It was soon clear, however, that the
two had deeper feelings for one another than they cared to admit. When they finally acknowledged
their love, it was met with opposition from Sheila, who saw Jade as a bit of a bossy boots. (Just who
was the family dog named after, again, Sheila?) As it turned out, the relationship came to its own
natural conclusion. Jade’s ambitions were bigger than Kyle’s and she left, following a lucrative job
offer in America. This big career break happens a lot in Ramsay Street; clearly Erinsborough is a
stepping stone to great things!
Enter nurse Georgia, who was engaged to country boy Scotty, before it was discovered that Scotty
had been secretly gay all along. By then, Georgia was harbouring feelings for Kyle, and those
feelings were reciprocated. The two had an on-off relationship. Scotty had been Georgia’s only
previous boyfriend, and she was emotionally traumatised by the break-up. Georgia and Kyle blew
hot and cold, and at times you wanted to yell, for goodness sake, just get it on! Even when they did,
the path to marriage was full of obstacles. Sheila, despite approving of Georgia in a way that wasn’t
the case with Jade, continued to interfere in her grandson’s life. Meanwhile, Kyle had attracted the
attention of Georgia’s friend, Kate Ramsay, a girl he had briefly dated, now a teacher at
Erinsborough High. (Study, qualifications and securing a job take around half the time in Ramsay
Street as they do in the real world.)
Kate was at an especially complex emotional stage of her sadly-short life. Neighbours fans all knew
that she was in love with ex Mark Brennan, whom she believed to be dead, until he made a shock
return to the street. (As you do in soap-land.) She projected those confused feelings onto Kyle, who
was on one of his ‘breaks’ from Georgia. Kyle had stupidly ignored advice and looked directly at
the sun during the total eclipse, so was temporarily blinded. Doctor Karl told him that he had to
wear protective glasses, and what with the Georgia situation, and losing business while
incapacitated, he was in a dark place in more ways than one. And, apparently, he was also incapable
of resisting the charms of pretty Kate. The deed done, both felt remorseful and agreed it should
never have happened. They kept the moment a secret, but we all know that secrets in Ramsay Street
have a habit of jumping out of the closet at the most inopportune moments.
Kyle and Georgia reunited, and Kyle proposed. We sensed trouble ahead, knowing what poor
Georgia didn’t. Meanwhile, secretly jealous of Georgia’s happiness, her mentally unstable cousin
Gemma blew the secret wide apart, with malice aforethought. Having discovered the truth of Kyle’s
infidelity, she chose to print out an e-mail in which Kate told Kyle that they should forget what
happened between them, and then slip the print-out in with the engagement congratulation
messages that Georgia was reading out to party guests. Oops. Georgia had been betrayed by fiancé
and best friend in one fell swoop. The engagement was off, and Kyle had a face like a puppy who’s
chewed his owner’s shoes.
Fearing that Georgia would never forgive him, Kyle started openly dating Kate. It was evident that,
deep down, their hearts weren’t really in it, but they clung together for comfort, each continuing to
try and reconcile their differences with Georgia. Sheila’s interference may have served to prolong
their romance, as she made it clear that she preferred Kate to Georgia. Although Bossy the dog
didn’t agree, refusing to accept Kate’s affectionate tickling, and turning her head away. Dogs tend to
pick up vibes!
And then, Georgia discovered that she was pregnant. This gave Kyle some hope that she would
eventually forgive him for the indiscretion. Keen to show how thrilled he was to be a dad, and his
desire to be involved, he concentrated on mugging up about pregnancy and restoring a traditional
rocking horse – one suitable for the still unborn child at the age of three. But hey, he meant well.
And who wouldn’t smile at the tiny ‘Dial A Kyle’ babygro presented to Georgia? Even my husband,
who knows little about the characters or plot, remarked on it with an ‘Aw.’
Kate was devastated to learn of Georgia’s pregnancy, as she’d just been diagnosed with premature
menopause symptoms, and told that she was unlikely to conceive children, although she kept the
news from Kyle. By then, Kyle realised he wanted to end things with Kate, which he did. Shortly
afterwards, Georgia miscarried. That was when you felt genuine compassion for all three characters.
Kyle had messed up, but the prospect of being a father had shown him what he really wanted from
life. In one of his sweetest, most tender scenes, we saw him and Georgia plant a tree in memory of
their lost child. I cried buckets, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
It was in the face of further tragedy that Kyle and Georgia were finally reunited. Kate and Mark
reconciled, and Mark proposed. As Georgia learnt of their engagement, Kate’s last words to her
friend would resonate with her. Do what makes you happy, she said, follow your dreams. Moments
later, Kate was gunned down, leaving Georgia to reflect on the frailty of life.
After Kyle’s brief absence from Ramsay Street – in Thailand to rescue a cousin in a pickle – Kyle
and Georgia got together again, properly. They married and settled down to the life that Kyle had
always wanted, and all seemed rosy until we saw signs that Georgia might have regretted the union.
She wanted to travel, she said. She didn’t want children yet, partly because she was scared that
she’d miscarry again, and needed time to heal. Then her mum’s cancer returned, so she was off to
Germany to be with her throughout the specialist treatment unavailable in Australia. We sensed that
this would be the end for the newly weds, as Saskia Hemple (Georgia) had left the show. Lo and
behold, Amy Williams appeared. Not only was she attractive, she was a fellow tradie looking for
work, and a feisty single mother. Oh, and the long-estranged daughter of Paul Robinson, which was
bound to be a bit of a hurdle for Kyle to overcome. But, give him his due, he eventually got Paul
onside. No mean feat.
The predictions of the viewers were correct, and Georgia reappeared briefly only to tell Kyle that
she had things she wanted to do in life, effectively setting him free and giving him license to get
together with Amy. This romance took time to get off the ground, with Kyle devastated by
Georgia’s decision, and Amy wary of men after a bad relationship with the father of her son, Jimmy.
However, Sheila encouraged Kyle and Amy from the off, believing her to be the perfect antidote
for Kyle’s broken heart. I didn’t want to see Kyle and Georgia split up but, after a while, I got used
to him and Amy together. Indeed, many fans argued that they were better suited. Amy is down to
earth, sensible and level-headed. She isn’t really into heels and dresses, but more of a shorts and
tee-shirt kind of girl. Sadly, happiness doesn’t usually last long in Ramsay Street. Georgia had
physically left, but perhaps her memory always lingered. And, we learned, she apparently regretted
leaving Kyle. But, we cried, you can’t just hurt Amy and Jimmy like that, Kyle. Amy’s good for
you, she loves you unconditionally. Kyle was torn, but in our hearts, we knew that as Chris Milligan
was leaving the show, Georgia would be the winner who takes it all.
There have been so many amusing moments involving Kyle, and I have loved them all. My
favourite has to be when, during the tornado, he went missing, only to turn up the next morning
trapped in a portable toilet cubicle. Georgia, relieved to have found him alive, swept in for a hug,
but gagged in horror, wishing she had waited. Kyle’s expression was hilarious. What do you think
I’d smell like, I’ve been in here all night, he reasoned. Fair point, Poo Boy! Another scene which
had me in stitches, was Kyle dressed as a naive Bell Boy to fulfil one of Georgia’s sexual fantasies.
I also remember with affection the time Sheila caught her grandson about to bathe in the spa,
starkers. Well, go on then, she said, it wasn't as if she hadn’t seen it all before, as she’d powdered
his bottom many a time as a baby. To which Kyle’s response was that he might have changed a little
since then. Again, fair point!
Kyle is one of those characters who reminds you of someone you know in real life; the bloke at the
bar of your local pub, the everyday grafter, scratching a living and being content with his lot. He’s
had a lot of knocks, not least inadequate parenting, and having to face the truth of his father’s
criminal activity. Latterly, Kyle discovered that he had a younger half-sister, who shared the same
dad, and although he was initially resentful of rebellious drama queen Xanthe, you could tell that he
realised she wasn’t dissimilar to himself. She may have had more of their father, Gary’s, attention
than him, but they share the background of a dysfunctional upbringing. And who better than gran
Sheila to help make Xanthe’s life more stable?
For Kyle, the love he had for Georgia had never died. After her brief visit to talk things through,
and with the hotel explosion having left some Ramsay Street residents devastated, Kyle made his
decision. We waved him off to join Georgia in Germany. It was an odd feeling; we felt desperately
sorry for Amy, so gracious and dignified in the loss of her man. We felt sorry for Jimmy, as he and
Kyle had developed a father-and-son relationship. We felt for Sheila, who had already lost daughter
Naomi to the American Dream. We felt for Xanthe, who might have benefited from a bit more plain
speaking from her new big brother. But in another way, we understood that Kyle wanted one more
chance to make it work with his wife. Even if it did mean moving away from his comfort zone.
This article would not be complete without a special thank-you to darling Bossy, the pooch who
fans have loved since she was a puppy. Even though Sheila sometimes cursed her for making a
mess, or for causing problems in the neighbourhood by going on a bra-stealing rampage, she’s
going to miss that dog. We will miss her too. We worried when she started uncharacteristically
biting folk and we learned that she had a life-threatening brain tumour. We were relieved when she
survived an operation. Somehow, Bossy always seemed to convey what the viewer might be
thinking about a character, but which the character didn’t always see. That dog has that air of
‘knowingness’ about her. It was obvious that Kyle wasn’t going to leave his best friend behind, and
so it was a case of bye bye Bossy and a lot of tears.
Chris, thank you for playing Kyle Canning, and for making us laugh and cry so much over the last
eight years. Dial-A-Kyle may be somewhere in Germany – enjoying a lager – but I know he’ll
always think of Ramsay Street as his home. And as he thankfully survived Hotel Death Trap, I
know many fans would welcome him back at the tap of a hammer. Just as long as he brought Bossy
This article originally appeared on Carol's blog, Levelling The Playing Field.