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Interviews > Maureen Andrew

Since 1997, Maureen Andrew has had four different Neighbours guest roles. Here, she shares memories of those roles and her career to date...

What were you doing prior to your work on Neighbours?
I've spent my younger years training as a dancer in Brisbane, moved to Melbourne and got into the original cast of HairNeighbours I had gone back into music theatre and played Mrs Dilber and was dance captain in Scrooge The Musical under the direction of Bob Thomson and Tudor Davies from England, still working as a singer but this time around mainly on the ship 'Abel Tasman' and still teaching dance and aerobics.

You’ve played four different roles on Neighbours in the past 10 years, including Dr. Danielle Marks and teacher Ms Killalee – how did your first appearance come about?
As my children matured and I made the transition back into full time theatre I had a list on the side of my refrigerator of all the things I dreamt of achieving, musicals, commercials, an Oscar, a role in Neighbours plus many others. One day the call came to audition for Jan Russ for the role of the arts teacher, Ms Killalee. I guess being a teacher helped because I got the role.

Can you tell us a little about your time on set?
Always great. The regular cast are very professional and comfortable with their characters, and with a smile and a nod they welcome you in. Their ease with the routine makes it easy to slip into character.

Did you notice any changes in the programme between your first appearance in 1997 and your most recent in 2002?
The programme has remained fairly consistent for me. I watch when I'm not at work, and I like to keep up with the story line. I toured with Natalie Bassinghtwaighte (Izzy) in Grease the Mega Musical for 9 months around Australia and it has been very exciting to see how she has grabbed on to the character and made her so multi faceted and made Izzy a character that you love to hate but are constantly intrigued by.

Was there anyone in the cast who you particularly enjoyed working with?
When I did Aggie Lyons, the hippie from Queensland, I was actually working opposite Jesse Spencer, a young man whom I had know since childhood. My kids and he and his siblings went to school together, and his father, Dr Spencer was actually my local doctor so that was really nice. It's fantastic now to see him as a grown man and with a great role on House.

Would you be interested in making a permanent return to the series if the opportunity were to arise?
Of course I would. It would be an honour to be a more integral part of Australian Television history.

Which of your various Neighbours roles was your favourite to film?
Genie Florence was fun. She was a wealthy philanthropist who fell for a con line, along with half of the women in the suburb, donated money to a shark, and when the con was revealed, had to share her embarrassment in front of everyone. I also liked being Dr Danielle Marks because it was fun to play someone with authority and to tell off a particularly nice actor (Mark Raffety) for his 'character's' indescretions. I think that Dr Marks would have continued for several more episodes but I had to fly to Sydney to start rehearsals for Cabaret.

Having appeared in other Australian dramas, such as Blue Heelers and State Coroner, how does Neighbours compare?
Neighbours has a family atmosphere second to none and of course that comes from having such a strong permanent base of characters who almost live inside the skins of their Neighbours character, but slip easily into being themselves when off set.

Are you a viewer of the series yourself?
When I'm back home and not on tour, I watch pretty regularly.

What have you been up to since your most recent stint on Neighbours?
I toured with Grease for 9 months as Miss Lynch, with Cabaret for 11 months playing Fraulein Schneider, and just finished in September 2005 an 18 month Australasian tour with Saturday Night Fever playing Flo Manero. Since I have been back in Melbourne I have played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, tap danced with Todd McKenney as one of the Golden girls in his cabaret show at Crown Casino, filmed a few commericals, some short films, am co-producing a film, teaching drama, and writing a musical tribute to Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. Along the way I managed to get a gig in Peter Jackson's King Kong, scored the role of Mrs Danvers in the Australian premiere of Rebecca, the Musical and performed in several Fringe Festival Productions. A little later this year I head off again on tour with Hugh Jackman in the Boy From Oz.

With Neighbours now on screen for over 21 years, what do you think is behind its huge success?
Everyone loves to see people that remind them of their own lives, the ups and downs, the joys, the tears, and Neighbours, like Coronation Street, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, and Keeping Up Appearances is all about families with all their weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and the crazy things that makes us all so wonderfully individual..

Interview by Steve. Added on 20th May 2006