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Interviews > Caroline Lloyd

She's Neighbours' longest-running recurring character and, after more than ten years, got her first storyline recently as she became embroiled in a love triangle with husband Greg and Steph Scully. Here, actress Caroline Lloyd chats about playing Erinsborough doctor Veronica Olenski...

Can you tell us a little about your career before your first Neighbours appearance back in 1998?
My professional acting career started in 1995 when I joined up with my very first (and somewhat dodgy) agent... I started with the usual presenting/corporate video work, moved on to small TV guest appearances of which Neighbours was one of the first. Prior to 1995 I had done a lot of theatre, managing to do at least one show a year whilst completing my medical degree. Kept me sane!

Do you remember how you first landed the role of Dr Olenski?
I actually auditioned for a completely separate role - one of ballet teacher I seem to recall, which I was obviously unsuited for, having not practised ballet for some 20 years or so... the role went to a friend of mine and I was just a tad green about it, until a few weeks later, when my agent rang me out of the blue to let me know I'd been cast as a doctor. (A bit more up my alley...)

What do you remember about your first day on set? How did it feel to be working alongside such an established cast?
I remember the nerves! I can truly say I was terrified. As a young actor those first few times working on set are really scary, and it's not just the famous faces you see all around you - I think we all want to do a fabulously good job and the pressure of that plus walking in high heels (always a challenge for me!), remembering lines, hitting your mark, avoiding shadowy patches, wrestling surgical gloves on/off at the right times, getting your eyelines right (plus the actual acting bit!) can all be a bit overwhelming until you get a bit used to it. They are just the usual challenges of working on set, but on your first job they do all come at once! Seems like a long time ago now. Actually the cast are incredibly generous and very understanding of newcomers to the set, and really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. The atmosphere in the Green Room is pretty relaxed, and regular cast often introduce themselves to guest cast, have a chat and offer to run lines etc.

How would you describe the character of Veronica Olenski?
Well until recently I would have described her as calm under pressure, kind, sympathetic, professional. However with the last big story line we discovered that she does have a steely side, fiercely protective and under considerable stress does show a fiery temper...

You’ve been part of the recurring cast now for 11 years. Are you surprised at how long the role has lasted?
Yes! Actually I've been surprised at how many babies have been born in Ramsay Street in the last few years. Must be something in the water.

Are there any actors you particularly enjoy working with?
I guess being the obstetrician I usually work with the female characters! Kim Valentine and Carla Bonner are both gorgeous people, Jackie Woodburne with her enormous talent has always been an inspiration. Ian Smith is a lovely lovely man - I haven't had many scenes with him on Neighbours but we got to know each other last year when we did a play together - Hobson's Choice - he made an hilarious Scottish doctor.

Did you enjoy the recent storyline involving Veronica, Greg and Steph? Would you like to see more of her personal life explored, and have more scenes outside of the hospital?
It was fantastic to have some conversations outside the medical realm. And the storyline was a really terrific, interesting one and kind of daring from the producers point of view, having one of Neighbours best loved characters have an affair. We talked with the producers about it and decided that it was just one of those terrible situations where no one was happy, something had to change, it's always hurtful but it was basically three decent people just doing the best they could. I'd love to take Veronica outside the hospital again - she's very capable in her professional role, but she needs to get out more ( and maybe start dating again!)

Would you ever be willing to join full-time if the opportunity arose?
Show me where to sign...

Which have been your favourite scenes to film so far?
All the birth scenes are so exhilarating - that combination of hard work and pure joy (and we get to cuddle a tiny baby for a bit! Not that I'm clucky at all...) I have to say I loved "The Slap" scene. Nothing like a bit of emotion combined with the discipline of a 'stunt' - challenging and interesting work if you can get it!

Will you continue to make guest appearances on the show?
Yes, in fact I am booked to shoot another episode in a few weeks. As long as they keep calling me, I'll keep showing up.

Have you ever been a Neighbours viewer yourself?
There was a time when I was completely addicted - would get home form work and watch Neighbours before getting dinner. However now I just don't have time to watch TV - lucky if I see an hour a week. I do try and record the shows I am in, (mainly for the kids, believe me!) but more often I forget...

What do you enjoy doing outside of your Neighbours work?
Professionally, I do love the theatre, that's my biggest thrill. Outside of acting, I'm loving my current medical work, spend as much time as I can with my two girls, and have an interest in property investing. Sometimes I get to read, and I do love to bake (anything with chocolate). Then I have to try not to eat all of it.

Finally, as the show continues its 25th season on Australian screens, what do you think accounts for its enduring success?
Being very much a family/neighbourhood show, I'm speculating that people love to see their own stories played out on the small screen. The Neighbours characters are often similar to people we know from our own lives, we relate to them and sympathise/identify with them. Maybe we learn from the stories we see on TV too. Or maybe its pure escapism - watch someone else's trials and tribulations for half an hour and we don't have to think about ourselves!

Interview by Steve. Added on 18th July 2009