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Interviews > Tom Oliver

It's been just over four years since our last interview with the man behind Neighbours' longest-serving character, now as Lou finds himself at the head of a Ramsay Street dynasty once again, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Lou's first appearance...

How does it feel to be marking 25 years since you first made that guest appearance as Lou Carpenter? Did you ever imagine, back in 1988, that you'd be a part of the Neighbours cast in 2013?
No, I certainly didn't. I originally came on the show for a month or so, and the reason was to try and woo Madge away from Harold but Harold won the day. I went back to Queensland and then I was invited back in 1992 when they decided to bring the character back. And I started on a six month contract with a six month option, and that was 23 years ago this run, so together 25 years since I first walked up Ramsay Street.

Do you have a favourite storyline from your time as Lou?
I proposed the storyline about Lou living with Cheryl and the question rose about the dangers of a woman Cheryl's age having a child. The producers picked it up and I worked with the wonderful child character called Lolly for seven years.

What was it like to adjust to working on Neighbours without Ian Smith?
Pretty hard at first because we had our own dialogue, we could almost read each other's minds, and bounced things off each other all the time, and still do in fact, we catch up with our wives for lunch or dinner regularly.

Lou has recently seen the return of daughter Lauren and family. What was your initial reaction when you found out about Lauren's return? How does it feel to suddenly be a part of such a big Neighbours family after so many years?
Tremendous. I think they have been cast brilliantly and they make a great family. I hadn't met Kate (Kendall) who plays Lauren, however after our first meeting it was as though we had known each other for a long time and that benefits the relationship as actors. And I always enjoy working with young actors starting out and these kids are great.

What are you hoping to see from Lou and the Turners?
A continuation of a happy marriage between the parents and happy relationship with the grandchildren. I was laughing the other day because Lou came in as a rough diamond and now I'm playing the doting old grandfather - time flies when you're having fun!

How do you feel about the recasting of the role of Lauren?
I didn't really feel anything at all because that has been done a number of times before, and when you have a show that has been going for nearly three decades and characters come and go, there will be different actors playing the roles. In this case, I think Kate has slipped into the role beautifully.

Would you welcome the return of more of Lou's family; if so which members would you most like to see back and why?
Definitely and in fact, keep watching because we are exploring this at the moment for later in the year - I can't say anymore!

Would you like to see Lou and Sheila get in to a relationship? Is it odd working with Colette Mann again on Neighbours as a different character, given her brief stint as Cheryl?
Definitely not and I say that because they bounce off each other beautifully a bit like Harold and Lou did. It's sort of a love-hate relationship which I think works brilliantly as it is. Lou thinks she is an interring old busy body, and she thinks he is a rough red-neck, and it works. And Colette has completely morphed herself in this role so I only see her as Sheila now.

Will the Turners' presence make Lou's trips away more difficult? Do you have any input as to where he heads off to each time?
No, the writers can do marvellous things so he will continue to take his trips, it just won't be in Queensland.

Are you still enjoying working on Neighbours after so long? Can we expect Lou to be around for more years to come?
Well, I can't answer that from a medical point-of-view! But I'm still having fun and they are a great bunch to work with; cast and crew. They keep me young. I turn 75 in June and while people say I don't look 75 which is nice, and I still feel 25, my organs are 75 and not much I can do about that! I'll stay as long as they hold up.

Interview by Callum. Added on 30th March 2013