Reference > Erinsborough News > Lost Son Scenes Shock Ailsa
Emotional on-screen reunion rekindles Neighbours star’s memories of her mother…
Neighbours star Ailsa Piper was startled when she watched herself in recent scenes on the Network Ten soap. “I got the shock of my life,” says Ailsa, who plays mum Ruth Wilkinson. “I actually saw myself being (my) mum on screen.”
Ailsa hadn’t realised before that she was so much like her own mother. And an upcoming storyline in which Ruth is reunited with her illegitimate son she gave up at birth, brought Ailsa’s relationship with her late mother into focus even more.
Ailsa, 38, nursed her mother through illness until she died in September, 1994. “Losing her was an awful shock,” Ailsa says. “I’d love her to see this (Neighbours); to see that part of her lives on in Ruth. With the storyline involving Ruth and this new child, I’ve been reminded of what it was like to lose my mother. I’ve seen my childhood from the other side, you could say.”
In episodes beginning April 9, Ruth is in for a harrowing time when young Ben Atkins arrives in town. Ruth’s daughter, Anne has a crush on Ben (Brett Cousins) and she can’t understand why the feeling isn’t reciprocated. Later, Ben confides in Anne the reason why he could never have romantic feelings for her – he is her half-brother.
Ben is Ruth’s child from a teenage pregnancy, and the revelation puts Ruth, son Lance and Anne into a spin. Not wanting to jeopardise Anne and Lance’s happiness, Ruth tells Ben to leave.
“Helen comes to the rescue, and eventually, Ruth asks him to stay,” Ailsa says. Ailsa is not a mother in real life, but describes herself as “a very involved godmother”. But nothing prepared me for the attachment I’d feel to them (Brooke Satchwell and Andrew Bibby, who play Anne and Lance),” she says. “I’m incredibly enthusiastic about them. I talk about Brooke and Andrew all the time.”
For 21-year-old Brett, the role on Neighbours is a dream come true. “I could hardly believe it when they rang and said I had the part,” he says. Melbourne-born Brett had a 50-word guest role on Neighbours last year, after graduating with a BA degree in drama from Deakin University.
“It’s a big jolt,” he says. “I’ve been used to leading a student’s life until now. But I enjoy it so much. I can get up at 5am with a smile on my face, and sail into work every morning.”
This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine dated 5th April 1997 and was written by Caron James