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Interviews > Daniel O'Connor

As Ned Parker waves goodbye to Ramsay Street, his alter ego Daniel O'Connor is set to embark on the next phase of his career with a return to the music world. Here Dan chats with Perfect Blend to take a timely look back at the three years he spent in Erinsborough...

As most fans know, you were a singer and finalist on Australian Idol before joining Neighbours, so what made you decide to move to acting rather than continue singing?
The opportunity came along at the right time and I really wanted to give it a go. Having not done anything acting-wise before it was a huge challenge but I thought "what the heck" and gave it a go. I always intended on getting back into singing.

How did you get the role of Ned Parker?
The same production company that do Australian Idol also do Neighbours and they wanted to know if I wanted to audition for a part. At the time I really had no intentions to get into acting but I would have been an idiot to say no. I went down to Melbourne and had to go through two auditions before they said "congratulations...you will now become Ned Parker!".

Were you a fan before joining the show?
I watched quite a lot of Neighbours but my older sister was the big fan. She never missed an episode so you can imagine how excited she was that I got a role.

How would you describe Ned?
Ned was a bit of a doofus. He was a naive but genuine country boy that came to the big city to pursue musical theatre. He was the sort of guy that was extremely loyal and usually reliable.

In his early days, Ned had quite a few scenes without clothes; how comfortable were you with that?
What an introduction into television. My first few weeks I spent without a shirt but I was assured that this was quite normal for new blood on the show. It was quite bizarre for me but for everyone else it was standard.

You had a few opportunities to sing as Ned, but would you have liked more?
The type of singing I did on Neighbours was really not my cup of tea. If I had done some music that was more my style I would have loved to have done a bit more but it was good that it ended when it did... I couldn't bear the thought of doing anymore Oodles 'O' Noodles songs.

Did you enjoy the Oodles 'O' Noodles story?
Haha... I think my previous response could answer that. I really enjoyed the comedy side of Oodles 'O' Noodles and working with Alan Fletcher. The music I could take or leave really. Maybe twenty years ago I would have loved it.

What were your favourite and least favourite storylines?
Favourite storylines definitely have been with Eliza Taylor-Cotter. There were so many great moments for me and such a variety. Also working with Ryan Moloney was fantastic so House of Trouser storylines were great. Least favourite storylines were the musical theatre stuff... cheese plus.

There's recently been some media criticism of Neighbours casting people without much acting experience. What's your view on the subject?
It is true that there have been quite a few cast taken on board without much acting experience but Neighbours is very much a sink or swim show. Some work and some don't but for those who have worked, I think it goes a long way to proving the value of giving people the opportunity. Some of the best actors in the world didn't come from drama training. Some people possess the natural talent that just needs to be given an opportunity.

Ned had several girlfriends; which did you think he was best suited to?
For the first year and a half I think Ned had about six girlfriends. He only really settled down when he and janae got together. I genuinely believe that Janae was suited to Ned the most out of all of them.

Who among the cast did you enjoy working with most? Will you be staying in touch?
We all get along really well but those I will stay in touch with the most would be Nat Blair, David Hoflin, Pippa Black and Carla Bonner.

What led to your departure?
I always said that I would only want to stay for a maximum of three years. I really wanted to get back into music and it just felt like the right time. I seriously had the best three years of my life at Neighbours but it was time to move on.

Do you think you'll ever return?
Who knows. If my music goes well then probably not but I would never say never.

What do you think is the reason for Neighbours longevity?
I think it is familiar to viewers. It is the sort of show that is quite respresentative of real life. Most of the storylines are stuff that happens in real life and each one of us would have experienced it or know someone who has experienced it. For the UK viewers it's a little escapism, it is a total different way of life.

Interview by David. Added on 25th October 2008