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As Joel leaves Erinsborough to pursue a lifelong dream, Daniel MacPherson heads to the UK to fulfil his...
Joel Samuels sails out of Ramsay Street for a new life this fortnight. And as Joel heads off, so does Daniel MacPherson, who plays him, as he sets his sights on a new career on the British stage.
But before all that there’s the small matter of Joel’s emotional departure from Erinsborough to deal with. Joel is over the moon about the prospect of getting paid to indulge his passion of deep-sea diving and having the chance to travel the world, after winning a coveted position working alongside explorer Vernon Wells.
The only thing that would make his dream complete is if his girlfriend, Dee Bliss, joined him. This fortnight sees Dee agreeing to accompany Joel on the journey – until a chain of events leads them both to heartbreak.
“Joel convinces Dee that going with him is a great opportunity,” says Daniel. “They’ve come through a lot together, and recently Dee confided in Joel about her miscarriage. So they’ve reached a new level in their relationship, and Joel thinks that going away together will be a fresh start.”
While Dee still has some reservations about quitting her job at the hospital, one person she is happy to leave behind is her now ex-boyfriend, Darcy Tyler. However, thanks to Joel, Dee’s hopes of putting Darcy in the past are quickly shattered. “Joel runs into Darcy at the pub and Darcy makes a remark about how Dee is making a big mistake by going away with him,” reveals Daniels. “One thing leads to another, Joel loses his temper, and before he knows it, he’s telling Darcy that Dee miscarried a baby and it was his. Darcy is shocked – it’s the first he knew of it.”
Joel realises he’s made a serious error in betraying Dee’s confidence but the damage is done. Darcy confronts Dee, and from there on, Joel and Dee’s plans go awry. “Dee is really angry with Joel for telling Darcy,” says Daniel. “She sees it as betrayal Joel tries to defend himself, but it’s too late. Dee can’t see that they have much of a future together if she can’t trust him. Of course, this means she won’t be going away with him anymore.”
Sadly, the timing of Dee’s decision couldn’t be worse. The residents of Ramsay Street throw a leaving party for the pair, unaware that Dee has changed her mind. Joel expects her to announce that she is not going, but curiously, she says nothing.
“It’s a weird send-off. Joel realises that Dee hasn’t actually made an effort to tell people that she’s changed her mind – so maybe she’s not so sure,” says Daniel. “It ends with him saying to her ‘well, you know what time the boat is leaving, if you want to come with me you know where I’ll be’.”
Joel packs his bags, says his final goodbyes and heads down to the local wharf where he’s due to board Vernon’s boat. As the moment of his departure draws near, a lone figure emerges on the pier – Dee.
“As soon as Joel sees Dee, he thinks ‘great – she’s changed her mind’,” reveals Daniel. “But as Dee gets closer to him, he realises that she’s not carrying any bags. Dee says ‘I’ve only come to say goodbye’. And that’s it – Joel sets off to begin his adventure alone.”
With that, Joel – and Daniel – leave Erinsborough forever. After four years of winning hearts both on-screen and off, Daniel admits that his final week on set was a sad one.
“My final day was weird, because I only had one scene to do and it was early in the morning,” he reveals. “I actually said my goodbyes a couple of days earlier, when I did my last scenes at No. 30. That’s when it really hit me – I looked around and thought ‘I won’t be seeing any of these people any more’.”
Since that emotional day, Daniel has barely had time to look back. After packing up his Melbourne apartment, he promptly boarded a plane for England to perform a stint in pantomime in Canterbury, where he was reportedly Britain’s highest-paid panto star of the year. And Daniel is currently in rehearsals for the musical Godspell, in which he will be starring alongside pop star – and Robbie Williams’ best mate – Jonathan Wilkes. The musical will be touring the country before settling in the place of every actor’s dreams – London’s West End. But as Daniel prepares to see his name in lights, he insists he will always remember his Ramsay Street past.
“None of this would have happened without Neighbours – it’s been the most amazing experience,” he reflects. “I’ve learned a lot, worked with some amazing people, and got to travel. It really was the best possible way for me to break into the industry, and even though it’s time for me to move on, I’ll always be grateful for it.”
This article originally appeared in Inside Soap magazine, dated February 2002, and was written by Jason Herbison