> Brenda Addie
established actress, Brenda Addie is perhaps best known
to Australian television viewers for her role as Barbara Taylor
on the early 1990s nighttime soap Chances. Brenda is
also one of a handful of actors to have appeared on Neighbours
in more than one role. We caught up with her to reflect on
her time in the series...
long have you been acting?
I've been acting in episodic television for a very long time.
Anne Phelan from Something in the Air and myself were
in Bellbird together before colour television! Ian
Smith (Harold Bishop) was in Bellbird with us. He was slim,
young, dark-haired and quite a dish! Don't tell him I said
before you appeared in Neighbours, you starred in the
adult soap Chances. Tell us about your time on that
Chances was a most interesting experience. It's become
a bit of a cult thing now. In a way it was a forerunner of
the more slick and glamorous and risque types of soaps. But
to look at it now it's a groan! Cathy Godbold and I were good
friends and I kept in touch with Yvonne Lawley, who played
my mother, until her passing some years ago. Jeremy Sims was
a very eager young man who has proved himself as an actor
over the years. Chances was his first job. Series television
is always a compromise - it's not like film where you have
more time to get it right.
first appeared on Neighbours in 1993 as Beth Brennan's
mother, Bunny Lawson. How would you describe the character
I can't remember very much about the character of Bunny except
I think she was rather disapproving.
was Natalie Imbruglia like as a daughter?
Natalie was an absolutely gorgeous girl. At that time, I was
brought in as her mother because she was leaving the series.
You may remember that she and Scott (Michaelson, who played
Brad) got married. Natalie had decided to pursue her singing
career and of course she did. She was very sweet and most
are your memories from that stint on the series?
I had just come out of Chances and went in to Neighbours
and the most significant thing I remember was that Beth's
abortive wedding was recorded at Port Phillip Bay and we had
done a similar wedding scene on a yacht in Chances.
Also remember working with Sue Jones (Pam Willis) who is a
long time colleague. In fact Sue and I both auditioned for
both Neighbours and Chances, she got one and
I got the other. I think I might have been better paid. But
then she got five years and I only got two! I also remember
Rachel Blakely (Gaby Willis) from that time, who I thought
was a super-looking girl and a good actress. She's done some
excellent work since Neighbours.
next appearance on the show was in 2001, playing Rhonda Wilson,
the mother of Sheena, who tried to seduce her daughter's boyfriend,
Toadie. How would you describe her?
Rhonda is fresher in my memory. Rhonda's character was quite
over the top - I mean who would want a mother like her? Anyway
it was Toadie's storyline and Ryan (Moloney, who plays Toadie)
has a very particular way of doing his work and as a support
actor that is what you are there for - to get the main character's
story happening. It was fun, apart from the fact that we were
filming the location scenes in the rain and I was losing my
voice. I think it was a smidge better by the time we got to
did working on the show in 2001 differ from 1993?
Neighbours is a totally different style in the show
now. You will notice it from the reruns. It has a different
pace and delivery. It's difficult to know as a guest actor
whether to pick up that style or try to be a bit different.
Tricky decision - you could stand out as an old fogey who
couldn't keep up the pace or you could look like an old fogey
trying to look like a groover and look like an idiot! See
what I mean? Neighbours is always fun. Peter Dodds
the producer was a director on Chances, so we go back
a long way.
projects have you worked on since last appearing on the show?
I've done a couple of guest roles in Blue Heelers -
one an obsessive compulsive who was having an affair with
her brother in law and was accused of sawing him into a million
pieces and the more recently as a pill-popping fashion designer
whose son is trying to get her business. Heelers has
changed considerably too. Everyone is upping the look and
the style. I think it works quite well. But then again it's
only one episode a week. More time to develop characters and
not such a gruelling schedule. But after a while they all
begin to get a bit like a factory - in, out, start again next
week. It's very hard work and very hard for the actors to
keep fresh so good on 'em for hanging in there.
also write and work for a film production house. I was the
assistant to the producers on the Rachel Perkins film One
Night The Moon and produced the Making Of One Night
The Moon segment on the DVD. I also develop new projects.
I've researched and written a world music series and currently
I'm writing and researching a documentary about the Australian
guitarist Slava Grigoyan. I do a bit of theatre every now
and then. I was last seen at the Carlton Courthouse in a series
of plays called School and my own play Bedroom Blues
had a professional play reading there in preparation for rewrites
and presentation to a major theatre company. I love acting
but I think writing provides the greater satisfaction for
me. It's slow, it's lonely and no one knows you are doing
it - it's very different from being in the spotlight.
do you look back on your time on Neighbours?
Neighbours was always fun. I lived in London for a
long time and my then husband had relatives in Scotland who
I never knew or spoke to but when they saw me on Neighbours,
I was their long-lost relative and they wrote to Australia
to ask me to send them a signed photograph of myself. Ah,
the power of telly!
Interview by Moe. Added on 26th April 2003