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Interviews > Nikki Coghill

2007 saw the arrival of the Parker family on Ramsay Street, headed up by parents Steve and Miranda, played by Steve Bastoni and Nikki Coghill. Two years later, they left Erinsborough in dramatic circumstances, following the death of their daughter Bridget, and here, Nikki Coghill shares her memories of her time with Neighbours...

Can you tell us a little about how you first got into acting, and about some of your work before joining Neighbours in 2007?
Originally I was a dancer, specifically ballet. I danced all my school life and even spent six months touring with the Australian Opera as one of their dancers when I was 15 years old. I then completed my final year of school at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, specialising in dance. It became apparent I was never going to be a prima ballerina! So I moved on to university, an Arts degree and a lot of time spent doing extra curricula university theatre. Someone suggested I get a particular agent, then I graduated and landed a six month contract in an aptly named TV soap called, Starting Out. The job lasted 3 months! But I was addicted and I still love it, many years later! I've been lucky to have a really diverse career, leads in some so so movies in the late 80's, TV series, telemovies and miniseries and stage work. Before I started Neighbours, I'd been doing some theatre work and voice/over work.

How did Neighbours compare to working on other Australian dramas, such as The Flying Doctors?
I enjoy every job I get the opportunity to work on. Comparing Neighbours to The Flying Doctors... they are two different beasts. Neighbours is a serial with continuing storylines. We'd shoot two and a half hours of television a week. Which is fast! It teaches you to think on your feet and go with your instincts! The Flying Doctors was shot on film and took nearly 2 weeks to complete 2 stand alone episodes.. I worked with some tremendous colleagues on both shows and have great memories of fun times.

You started on Neighbours at a time of great change for the show, with new characters and sets, and a ‘back to basics’ approach. What was it like to join Neighbours at that time?
I remember when we started Neighbours there was a great sense of renewal and starting over. The producers really wanted our characters to have an impact. They took care how our characters were introduced into the show, and how they related to characters such as Susan and Karl.

Did you enjoy playing Miranda? How would you describe the character?
Miranda was very concerned with parenting her children. Her family and their needs came first, and although she tried various jobs, I think she was really focused on her home life. At the time I was juggling family and work commitments, so often understood where Miranda was coming from, trying to get that work/life balance!

Were there any scenes or stories that you particularly enjoyed, or disliked, filming?
Ironically, I really enjoyed filming the Parker family's final storyline, the car accident leading up to Bridget's death. It was intense, dramatic with a lot of interaction between characters, some of whom I didn't get to work with often. In a funny way, it was a good opportunity to say goodbye to the cast too.

Was there anyone in the cast that you particularly enjoyed working with?
Obviously I enjoyed working with my onscreen family, particularly Steve Bastoni and Eloise Mignon. I spent more time with them over my time in the show then I did with my real family! I had worked with Alan Fletcher on earlier jobs (specifically All the Rivers II and Sword of Honour where I played his wife) so it was great to have the opportunity to connect again. Jackie Woodburne is an amazing actress and always inspirational. Jane Hall is just a lot of laughs!

When Miranda first arrived, there were mentions of her career in event management, but this never really came to anything. Were you satisfied with the way Miranda developed, outside of her role as wife and mother, during her time in Erinsborough?
The writers did try to allow Miranda some independence from family life. She did end up working in the vet and the hotel, but I think her strongest storylines were centred around family life. She just didn't have that career ambition.

What led to your departure from the show after two years?
Eloise Mignon, who played Bridget, wanted to return to university and continue her studies. Without Bridget, the writers felt Steve and Miranda were not viable as characters.

Would you ever consider returning to the role, if the opportunity arose?
Maybe I'd consider returning... it's not something I think about now.

What are you doing these days?
I'm still acting when the job arises. I played the part of a mother in a new A.B.C. series written by Peter Helliar called It's a Date which will be shown on Australian TV sometime this year. I still do voice over work and have done a couple of plays and other T.V. roles since Neighbours. I am also doing some post graduate study in career development. Helping people discover their career pathways is an area which interests me.

Are you still in touch with any of your former Neighbours co-stars?
My computer had a virus recently and sent spam emails to all my contacts. Both Steve Bastoni and Eloise immediately contacted me to let me know. Still looking out for me! We try to catch up when we get the time.

Finally, what do you think is the secret to Neighbours' success?
Honestly, I don't really know the secret to Neighbours' success. Perhaps there's a universality in the storylines, people can relate to their favourite character's dilemmas and conflicts. And watching Neighbours is a great way to relax after you get home from work!

Interview by Steve. Added on 15th May 2013