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Comment > Love Thy Neighbour: Rosie Hoyland by Barry

If you cast your mind back to the christening of baby Ben, you will discover an episode which arguably brings to the forefront everything which Neighbours symbolises: family and friends brought together to celebrate a special occasion, and also see the joy that such an event brings out in the assembled characters. Rosie is introduced as the new vicar who will be conducting the service and is introduced to the residents of Ramsay street. From her very first scenes outside the church we were given an insight into the potential comedy element between Rosie, Harold and Lou.

For me, one of the most memorable scenes Rosie was involved in would have to be her speech at the christening., highlighting parental responsibility and giving the other characters something to discuss with each other:

"And so we are gathered here today for a very special occasion. To welcome this child into the world and into our Christian community and as Ben will soon discover, it's a far from perfect world. Indeed, so far from perfect, that some people won't even bring a child into it at all. That's not a theory I subscribe to, for as troubled as it is by catastrophes of all kinds. By war and poverty and injustice, this world is still a pretty wonderful place to be. And how much the world needs its children, Ben, and all the others, with their energy and optimism, their imagination, their dreams. Our children are our gift to the future. How important then is our task of caring for them, nurturing them and surrounding them with love, so that they in turn will know how to care for and love others. You are here today, all of you, but especially Ben's parents and his godfather, to promise that you will do your best by him. And it is, I can assure you, an awesome responsibility, because no matter what we do in this life - no matter how clever or talented or fortunate we are - there is no job more important than that of raising a child."

A remarkable scene indeed, very well acted, and her presence symbolised a much needed sense of stability - someone who has a developed a great sense of what the world is all about, and would be able to offer this advice in confidence and in friendship in months to come; ultimately laying the foundations for another great Ramsay street matriarch whom everyone admired and respected; and because of her religious beliefs would be able to convey subtle messages of social and moral elements to the audience at large; something meaningful that the viewer could take away from listening to Rosieís advice in capacity as minister.

With those foundations firmly in place and with the writers already delving into her background and introduction of other members of her family, we were able to assume the character was being built upon and would indeed become the much needed senior female character to reflect the strength Anne Haddy and Anne Charleston had spent years creating within the show. Maggie Millar herself has commented that she strongly believes the show needed such a character; particularly to balance the two older men.

For me, Rosie will always be remembered for the community aspect she helped to recreate in the show; who can forget her arrival in the street, bringing Harold his mail. Itís scenes like these that we have lost in recent years, with characters meandering around and with no sense of purpose or belonging. We remember characters like Rosie not for any major storyline they were involved in, but rather the smaller aspects they contribute to the show, when added together displays a much more effective character.

Sadly, Rosieís background and history was somewhat sidetracked with the other major storylines unfolding in Ramsay street, particularly Susan Kennedyís amnesia. We were offered a brief insight into her past when she was hypnotised and surprised everyone by what was un-surfaced. This was never mentioned again and sadly Rosie was to join the other members of the street parading from house to house, or propping up the bar in Louís place as an onlooker; peripheral to the other storylines.

Despite the number of possibilities for a character as complex as a female Vicar, the only chance the writers offered us to see Maggie Millarís legendary abilities was in the form of the love triangle with Harold and Lou. While Maggie once again demonstrated her excellent wealth of experience in portraying such a storyline, the producers had already decided the character was not to stay.

For many fans of Australian television in the UK, we watch and enjoy Neighbours not only for the sunny, all-round warmer depiction of life, but we have grown to respect and admire many of the great senior stage trained actors who have graced our screens throughout the show's 18 year run. Actors with the highest degree of integrity in their performances, and Maggie Millar being the epitome of such. It is a travesty that the producers allowed such a talent to slip through their fingers, while doing so allowing the younger characters to take centre stage. The show needs established actors like Maggie Millar for the younger performers to watch and look up to.

In axing Rosie from Neighbours, just as many of us were warming to her and the arrival of the other Hoylands, we have been left with yet another unresolved character. Many fans of the show have already commented on the absence of Maggie from the new cast photo, especially with the other Hoylands becoming so popular with fans and another member of the family on the way soon. Hopefully in the future the producers may be able to see the importance Rosie plays in the ensemble, and bring her back!

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