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Interviews > Robyn Arthur

Back when Nina Tucker was searching for stardom, she found herself a manager in the form of the talkative, and somewhat shonky, Melody Jones. After losing Nina as a client, Melody found herself a new career and cropped up the following year selling wedding dresses. Here, her portrayer, Robyn Arthur, shares her thoughts on the role.

Could you give us some background on your career before your role in Neighbours?
In a career spanning 30 years, I've worked in every area of the performing arts, most notably, music theatre. I won the Victorian Greenroom award for Best Female Supporting Artist in 1991 for the role of Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables in the original Australian cast, directed by Trevor Nunn. I kept the tea flowing as Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast with a young Hugh Jackman as Gaston. My other theatre credits include Evita directed here by Harold Prince; How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Smitty); Nunsense (Sister Robert Anne); Side By Side by Sondheim and,in 2002, the Australian Premiere of Sondheim’s Putting It Together. Recent television highlights include Kath and Kim, The Secret Life Of Us and ,of course, Neighbours as Melody Jones. I've just finished the Australian feature Lost and Found directed by David Blake and am about to shoot Charlotte's Web with Dakota Fanning for worldwide release at Christmas 2005. Most of 2005 will be spent touring the hit play Minefields and Miniskirts by Terence O’Connell about Australian women in the Vietnam War with Robyn reprising her role of Eve the Volunteer/Aid worker. The play will tour nationally.

How did the role of Melody Jones come about?
I was asked to audition/screen test for the role by Grundy here in Melbourne.

How would you describe the character?
A tough, “take no prisoners” businesswoman who really does believe she can make and groom star talent. Committed and somewhat obsessive. Driven. Will do anything to get what she wants. When people don’t play the game her way, she will walk away. She is the boss and must run the whole package.

What was it like working the Delta Goodrem?
Delightful. And we both love the music of Joni Mitchell.

Would you consider bringing the character into the series on a more permanent basis, should the opportunity arise?
Now that Delta has left the series that is unlikely and not my decision but that of the network. I did return working as a wedding shop consultant for Stephanie’s wedding last year. At this stage I would return as a completely different character I presume if the story line was suitable.

Were you surprised to be asked to reprise the role (re: the above)?
Yes, and amused at the new incarnation.

Are there any plans for further appearances by Melody?
Not as far as I am aware.

Was there anyone in the cast who you particularly enjoyed working with?
Yes, Jay Bunyan, Delta and my friend Wendy Stapleton who played Trixie, Nina’s mother. Wendy is also in the play Minefields and Miniskirts which we are about to re-rehearse and tour nationally in 2005.

After 20 years, Neighbours is still hugely successful. What do you believe is the key to its success?
If I knew the answer to that... there have always been terrific actors in the series and it has given so many “breaks” to young talent too. It obviously appeals to so many people and I think the success of it overseas is the Australian lifestyle.

Interview by Steve. Added on 30th April 2005