Reference > Erinsborough News > Jane Hall Signs On
For Jane Hall, joining Neighbours for its big relaunch was an opportunity she couldn't refuse. The actor, who began her career at just 13 on The Henderson Kids, has spent the past few years looking after her four-yearold daughter, Lucia, and decided it was time to head back to work. "I saw it as the perfect timing in my life to become involved in a long-running series and it just fitted right into where I saw myself going at the moment," she says.
With its ratings in a downhill spiral, executives of the Network Ten soap have been in the process of rebuilding the show with "the change" starting tomorrow. This so-called change is a return to the days of old, ditching the bizarre and unrealistic storylines of present, for plots focusing on family and relationships. And it was these alterations that helped attract the 36-year-old to the show. "I think some of the changes that are planned are very exciting," she says. "By the time we undergo this metamorphosis, it will be a different show in six months and I'm very glad to be working on that at this time." With the focus on the intricacies of people's lives and a return to the freshness from the early days, the change will be dramatic but not fast.
"People aren't going to be tuning in and seeing a new show - that's not how it works," Hall says. "We've had to pick a date when we can start the new opening titles, the new song, the new logos and when the branding will be launched but, as far as the series goes - it's a slow burn. You won't be tuning in all of a sudden thinking you're in a new show. It's just the start of many great things to come." Despite an extra $5 million being pumped into the show for new sets and to improve the overall look and feel, Hall says she doesn't feel pressure to ensure the series is a hit. "I feel none, truly," she says. "I haven't been called in to save anything - there's just a lot of people working very hard and I don't feel any disproportionate pressure at all. I'm just doing my job and hoping for the best, as is everyone."
While the cast and network are keeping relatively tight-lipped on exactly what viewers can expect to see with the changes, the promise is of an appeal to a broader demographic and the inclusion of new characters including Steve Bastoni, A Country Practice's Penny Cook, and Nikki Coghill to spice things up.
Although Jane can't reveal too much about her character, she says she will be playing the role of Rebecca Napier, the biological mother of adopted established character Oliver Barnes. She began work on set four months ago and says she is loving working on Ramsay Street. "It's a very close-knit little group here and we just spend a lot of time in each other's company and I've been surprised at the level of camaraderie," she says. "It took me a few months to get used to the pace of Neighbours because it is incredibly quick but it's great to be in such an iconic show and I love coming into it as one of the older actors."
Hall needs to love it though, as she is currently spending about 50 hours on set each week. "Sometimes it feels a bit like Groundhog Day when perhaps you haven't left until the last scene of the day and then you're first up in the morning," she says. "Sometimes it can feel like you never leave but frankly, that's all part of the beast and I'm more than happy to be doing it." So happy, she plans on settling into the fictional Melbourne neighbourhood for the long haul. "Providing they're happy with me and viewers embrace Rebecca, as I hope they will, then, yes, I would say that Ramsay Street might be my home for a little while."
This article originally appeared in the Sunday Mail newspaper, dated 22nd July 2007