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Harold’s back in Ramsay Street with his trusty tuba in tow – and Madge isn’t far behind…
Old soap characters don’t die – they just turn up a few years later when the viewing figures start to slip! Never was this more true than for Ian Smith, who played Neighbours’ bumbling Harold Bishop at the height of the show’s fame.
Ian thought Harold was dead and buried ages ago, but last year he was asked back to play a resurrected Harold for a three-month guest slot. The return was such a hit with viewers that Ian, along with screen wife Anne Charleston, is returning to the show again – and this time it’s for good.
“I had a feeling we were going to be asked back,” says Ian, who returns to our screens this fortnight. “The producers were already talking about new storylines for Harold and Madge – and they don’t waste time with things like that unless there’s a reason behind it!”
Harold comes back ostensibly to audition to become a tuba player in the Salvation Army band. However, Ian reveals that there’s a more pressing reason for his return. “He feels that Madge has to get away from Brisbane, where they’re living at the moment,” he explains. “The reason why is a really human one, and one I think most of the viewers will agree with.”
Harold’s constant fine tuning of his musical skills soon grates on the rest of the residents. But the neighbours aren’t the only ones that can’t stand the racket… “God, I really hate the tuba!” laughs Ian. “Why they didn’t give me a mouth organ, I don’t know. I think they thought, ‘Here’s a big fat actor, let’s give him a big fat instrument. That’ll be funny!’.”
This article originally appeared in Inside Soap magazine dated January 1998 and was written by Steven Murphy