Reference > Erinsborough News > Nervous Neighbours
The popular soapie brings in a new producer and signals some cast changes
There has been a major reshuffle on the set of Neighbours and the show’s producer, John Holmes, has resigned. Ally Fowler, who plays the zany Zoe Davis, has announced she will be leaving the show and the futures of two other key cast members are in doubt.
Francis Bell has been suffering from a painful back injury for several weeks now. He was all set to marry his longtime love Monica Dare last month when the back injury occurred and he was forced to take sick leave. The wedding went ahead and Francis and Monica managed to take a brief break and went to Fiji for their honeymoon.
But Francis is still plagued with back problems and has told Grundys, the show’s producers, that he will have to be in traction for three days a week. His immediate future on the show is uncertain. Francis’ character in Neighbours, the meddlesome Max Ramsay, will be heading for Queensland to meet his ex-wife.
Meanwhile, Alan Dale’s future on the show has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. He has yet to complete negotiations on the renewal of his contract with the show’s producers. It now seems likely Alan will have a break from the show, but it is probable he will return.
Ally Fowler, however, has decided not to pick up her option to continue with Neighbours after June, but she will continue to be seen on screen until September. Ally’s character will be rested as she has indicated she would like to return to the show at a later date.
And another Ramsay family member is set to enter the scene. Gary Files will play Max’s brother, Tom, who will be introduced into the show at the end of this month. As has already been revealed, David Clencie, who character, Danny Ramsay, is being rested, will be out of the show by September. But his character, too, could return after a short break.
TV Week was told several weeks ago that “a lot of dramatic changes, including two deaths and a big wedding” were being planned in the series’ storylines. Neighbours has had a colourful history since its beginnings on the Seven Network in March last year. The show proved a strong audience grabber in Melbourne, but it was less successful in Sydney and it was axed before the year’s end.
Then, in a history-making move for Australian television, Network 10 announced it was picking up the program from January this year. Since then Neighbours’ ratings in Melbourne have been consistently high and it has also proved popular across the country.
But it is still proving difficult to break the stranglehold Terry Willesee has on the all-important 7.00 timeslot in Sydney. The network, however, remains confident the show, given time, will make its mark in Sydney.
Meanwhile, it will have a new producer from next month. John Holmes is leaving to begin a new venture outside television. The new producer is Philip East, a former director on Cop Shop and a producer on Network 10’s long-running Prisoner series.
This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine dated 10th May 1986 and was written by Patrice Fidgeon