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Melissa Bell: The new girl on the block
She may be the new girl on the block but already Melissa Bell has made her mark in a big way on Neighbours.
As the rebellious young teenager Lucy Robinson, she caused quite a stir when she arrived back in Ramsay Street after a run-in with teachers at her exclusive girls’ boarding school.
But her family were in for an even bigger shock when Lucy promptly fell head-over-heels in love with another new arrival in town, good-looking Glen Donnelly (played by E Street’s former bad boy Richard Huggett), who turned out to be her half-brother.
All of this has ensured her arrival in Erinsborough has not gone unnoticed. Not that there was much chance of that. This might be only Melissa’s second TV role but she has already gained herself quite a following.
She shot to attention last year on E Street as Harley (Malcolm Kennard)’s other love. A scene involving the two young screen lovers in the park was considered so hot by the producers it was censored before the show went to air.
While Melissa’s E Street stint was strictly a guest role, it brought her to the attention of the Neighbours producers who invited her to audition for an ongoing role. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.
At 18, she says she is still “just learning”. But, in fact, Melissa is no stranger to the camera, with numerous TV commercials to her credit.
She began modelling at the age of three, after she won her first title in a department store modelling contest. “I don’t remember much about it,” she laughs.
From there Melissa graduated to doing department store parades at the age of 10. Then, a few years later, she was named Miss Teen Australia. She still holds that title along with Miss Photogenic International, which she collected after competing in the Miss Teen International finals last year in the U.S.
“I won a trip to the States two years ago as part of my prize for the Miss Teen Australia title,” she says. “Then I was invited back to compete in the international finals. It meant that I was forced to choose between going to the States or doing my HSC but I’m not sorry I opted to go to America,” she adds happily.
Similarly Melissa didn’t hesitate when she was offered the Neighbours role, even though it meant leaving the family home on the New South Wales coast and setting up house in Melbourne.
And did she leave a boyfriend behind? It was rumoured her short stay on E Street sparked a romance off-screen with E Street producer Forrest Redlich’s son, Jason, but Melissa maintains: “We were just good friends. We enjoyed each other’s company.”
This article originally appeared in New Idea magazine, dated 11th May 1991, and written by Patrice Fidgeon