In 2007 and 2008, Erinsborough councillor, and later mayor, Jackie Jones proved to be a master at manipulation, before her lies caught up with her and she was forced to resign. Here, actress Kristin Keam chats about her career to date and her time playing Jackie...
Can you tell us a little about your career before your first appearance in Neighbours last year?
My career in brief! I was a comic singer/pianist in the 80s on shows like Comedy Company and Hey! Hey! It's Saturday! I spent 15 years in London working mainly in music theatre which was great fun but I missed home and moved back to Melbourne in 2004. I worked with some Neighbours gals in 2004 on a tour of Australia with the Malthouse Theatre's beautiful production of Minefields and Miniskirts, stories about Oz women in the Vietnam War. I spent 5 happy months with Sally Cooper, Robyn Arthur and Wendy Stapleton so I was in good company.
How did your role as Jackie Jones come about? Was it just a typical audition?
Yes it was a typical audition but I will tell you I nearly messed it up! My agent emailed me the brief so the script I had to learn was attached. In London you usually cold read so I didn't notice the script and went in to read for them. Of course I blamed Hotmail rather than admitting I was too dumb to notice and so had half an hour to learn a 2 page script. Let's say it was....fresh!
Did you enjoy playing Jackie? How would you describe her?
I loved playing Jackie! I have played a lot of understanding women and it was such fun to be manipulative and fight with everybody! I was horrible to Toadie and we both had great fun shooting that. I do think she was being expedient and doing what she thought was best for the community. Stephanie was only new to the council and Jackie would have considered her own position much more important. I think she was well written and interesting.
Were there any actors you particularly enjoyed working with?
In my initial 4 episodes I played opposite Carla Bonner and could not have asked for better. She is charming and she is very good. I had not really acted on television before and knew that if I pitched it at a similar level to how she was working then I would be in the ballpark. Theatre actors can seem too big on TV I have noticed.
How did it feel to be working alongside such an established cast?
It is like coming into a club but the long standing cast are very welcoming. Joan Sydney is a delight as are Carla and Ryan.
Would you ever consider a permanent role in the series, if the opportunity arose?
Yes you bet I would!! To be a full-time actor in this country is not that easy and I very much enjoyed acting on the the show. I have much to learn about the small screen and would be most happy to do it there.
Have you ever been a viewer of the series yourself?
Yes I used to watch quite regularly whilst in the UK as it reminded me of home. And also way back in the early days of Charlene - I am very old!
Having now appeared in two separate stints as Jackie, do you think there’s any chance we might see her again?
I would love Jackie to come back but she certainly left under a cloud. Perhaps she could make it up to the community by coming back as a social worker! Or she could be Melody Jones' sister! (Melody is another dodgy character played by my dear friend Robyn Arthur and I definitely see a double act there!)
Do you ever find yourself running into familiar faces from your Neighbours days, either through work or socially?
I have several mates who have worked on Neighbours but otherwise no.
What have you been doing since your most recent filming stint?
Since filming I have concentrated on the music theatre piece I am co- writing. We are up to a second draft but my writing partner, Craig Christie, has been wonderfully busy with the successful UK tour of another of his shows, Eurobeat. I also teach singing at various universities.
Why do you think Neighbours has been such an ongoing success?
Now if I could answer that I would write another show that would also run forever and be a very wealthy woman!
Interview by Steve. Added on 7th June 2008