Reference > Erinsborough News > In My Dressing Room
As Neighbours makes the move from BBC1 to Five, Ian Smith - who plays lovable Harold Bishop - invites us for a cup of tea and a natter...
My dressing room is small and quite functional, with modern furniture and - very importantly - a shower that works! During periods away from Neighbours, I've worked at some lovely historical theatres, but unfortunately many of them have ancient plumbing. It's not like that at the Neighbours' studios here in Melbourne. All the cast have similar rooms, so there's no precious behaviour! As I'm here so much I've surrounded myself with a few of my favourite things to make the place feel more personal and homely. There was a time when I had to work hard at being Harold. But after playing him since 1987, he now comes naturally to me. To get into Harold mode I put on a bow tie and an apron. He's a combination of two people I used to know: one was a person I didn't have a lot of time for, and the other was my dear father, Gordon. Dad has no social skills and was very nervous. When you see Harold being ridiculously stern and anal, that's the man I didn't like. If he's awkward and bumbling, then that's my father. I'm not like Harold at all. I'm an atheist and like my malt whisky. And Tom Oliver, who plays Lou Carpenter, and I are always exchanging banter. Once, I wrote a word I was finding difficult to say on a green apple in the fruit bowl of a kitchen set. Before I could say the word, Tom deliberately took a bite out of the apple! At the end of a long, hard day, I look forward to going home to my wife Gail and our three cats. That's when I make sure I leave Harold where he belongs - in my dressing room.
Playing golf helps me to relax. I keep a sandwich iron and a putter in my room for a spot of practice - they're the ones I have the most difficulty with.
I adore performing in pantomime. This year I'm playing Baron Hardup, Cinderella's dad in York. I love York, it's a beautiful place.
I've put up pictures of me with people I've enjoyed working with in panto. Brian Conley was a magic person to perform with.
My Tens machine
I wear this in between scenes on Neighbours to help relieve my sciatica. It delivers small, electrical impulses through my skin, which helps with the pain.
This is my Greek captain's hat that I bought 30 years ago. It's my security blanket - the moment I put it on, I feel relaxed.
My wife Gail and I are cat people. These two came from the RSPCA eight years ago. We call them the kids because our other cat is 15 years old. All three of them are grey tabbies.
My card from Kylie
After Kylie Minogue left Neighbours she sent me this card. It says, 'Look after yourself. And that means no more cigarettes!'. I haven't had one in 13 years.
This article originally appeared in skymag magazine dated January 2008 and was written by Sally Morgan