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Reference > Erinsborough News > Downright Unneighbourly

Bodyguards protect young Ramsay Street couple from the dark side of fame

Neighbours star Mark Stevens is “no slouch” when it comes to sticking up for himself. Not that the energetic 17-year-old relishes a skirmish – in fact he tries to avoid physical encounters. Recently however, he has been “forced into situations” to protect himself from unprovoked abuse and physical threats in public.

As the streetwise Nick Page in the Network Ten series, Mark expects and is prepared to shrug off the occasional jibe when he’s recognised on the street. After several confrontations with irate louts, however, he is now accompanied by a bodyguard when making public appearances.

“I’ve had a few punch-ups,” Mark admits without satisfaction. “I’ve had to put up with a few mouthy guys with a bit of beer in their belly, but I won’t let it stop me going out.”

Mark, who says he scored a black eye in one stoush, is irritated that the abuse is usually from a group – not individuals with no back up. “Recently I was out with my family at a shopping centre,” says Mark. “I hate bad language in front of my mother so when they started calling out, I went over to ask why they were doing it. Those are the types of things that lead to punch ups… if someone has the audacity to give me a whack, they’ll get one back.”

Jessica Muschamp, who plays Nick’s girlfriend, Sharon, in Neighbours hasn’t had it easy either. She says the time has passed when she can go to the pub with friends.

“Usually, people are fine,” Jessica, 18, says. “But if you’re somewhere where there’s plenty of drinking or go to a party where you don’t know a lot people, they can be rude.”

Both Jessica and Mark agree that having a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t understand – or is not involved - in the entertainment industry can be a major problem.

“There is initial suspicion that a ‘date’ is ultimately aiming at access to the rest of the cast. It happened to someone (from Neighbours) who stopped going out with this girl when he realised what she was up to,” Jessica says.

“I certainly intend to marry an actor or someone involved in the industry… my last boyfriend didn’t understand it enough for us to be compatible. He didn’t understand the kind of schizophrenic behaviour it takes to be an actor.”

Mark says the attention has one advantage. “Through it all, I’ve really found my true friends,” he says. And like their characters Nick and Sharon, Mark and Jessica are great mates on and off the set.

This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine dated 29th April 1989 and was written by Darren Devlyn

Article submitted by Steve


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