Reference > Erinsborough News > Fiona's Lucky Break
From the Big Apple to Ramsay Street…
Many actors travel to New York in a fruitless search for success, and Fiona Corke is one of the few who got her big break in the Big Apple.
But the opportunity turned out to be right here at home – in the form of a major new character in Network Ten’s popular soap Neighbours.
“I went for the part a week before I left for a holiday,” Fiona says. “I rang up the morning before I was leaving but there was no news so I figured I didn’t have it.”
Fortunately, the lovely Melbourne actress was wrong. Fiona’s manager contacted her in New York and scripts were flown there for Fiona to study. “I had to come home from my holiday five weeks early,” Fiona says. “I got back on a Wednesday and began work on the Monday.”
But Fiona isn’t complaining. She’s thriving on her role as Gail Lewis, a former airline hostess who worked with Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) when he was a steward. “Gail trained Paul and they didn’t really get on very well together at all,” Fiona says, smiling. “She is a very stylish character, a bit conservative, but she has got a real fun side to her. She got married while she was in the airline industry and moved to Queensland but was eventually divorced.
“She has now moved back with her father, Rob (Ernie Bourne), who runs a garage in Ramsay Street.”
Gail innocently applies for a public relations job at Lassiter’s, not realising that Paul is in charge. Being a fair-minded businessman, Paul employs Gail on her merits – a decision sure to spark a fiery working relationship. “When Paul snaps she will snap back at him, and he realises how he is behaving,” Fiona says.
“But she will never cause an argument, and she is always trying to smooth things out. She is very efficient and practical. She gets the job done and is very loyal to the people she works for.”
Viewers will also get an inside look at the home life of Gail Lewis. “Gail’s mother is dead and when she moves back with her father there is a lot of love between them – but sometimes he drives her crazy,” says Fiona, who is particularly enjoying working with Ernie Bourne. “Ernie’s fabulous to work with – actually, everyone is.”
With her friendly nature, Fiona has quickly fitted into the close-knit Neighbours cast, but she was nervous during her first week. “On the first day I put my dress on back to front so I had to wear it like that for the rest of the scenes on that day,” she says, laughing.
Fiona, 25, began acting professionally five years ago with New Theatre Day Time, a theatre-in-education group. Her television credits include Prisoner, Zoo Family and Whose Baby and soon she will be seen alongside Andrew Clarke and Brad Robinson in a new episode of The Fast Lane.
Playing Gail Lewis is her first on-going role and Fiona is confident she will have better luck in Neighbours than her short-lived run in Prisoner. “I did a couple of episodes of Prisoner last year, playing Rodney Adam’s girlfriend, Allison,” Fiona says. “But when I got the part, the show was axed that week!”
This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine, dated March 14th 1987, and was written by Kelly Bourne