Reference > Erinsborough News > "I Want To Go Home!"
Melissa’s switching streets, but romance is not the main reason…
Melissa Bell has just made the toughest decision of her short but successful television career. After 18 months playing Lucy Robinson in Network Ten’s Neighbours, she is packing her bags to join ‘sister soap’ E Street.
Her reason for quitting the Melbourne-made Neighbours is simple – the 19-year-old has been suffering from home-sickness. Melissa, who moved from Sydney for the Neighbours role, says: “The main reason I’m going home is to be close to my family. They are going to move to Sydney from the Central Coast. We all want to be together again. I’ve missed them so much. My last phone bill was more than $1000… Telecom must love me!”
Melissa says the decision was such a hard one that she even consulted a clairvoyant. “I contemplated it day in day out for months,” Melissa says. “So I went to a clairvoyant. I told her ‘I have a decision to make. Can you help me?’ She told me to go, but I still couldn’t make up my mind.”
“I love Neighbours and working with everyone. I had got into a comfortable position with the cast and crew. It was really cosy.”
Melissa finishes filming Neighbours next month and will be seen on-air until July. A month later she will turn up in Westside as 17-year-old Bonnie Tait, a new love interest for Bruce Samazan’s character, Constable Max Simmonds.
“She’s my first real role,” Melissa says. “Lucy was played by two other actors. So playing Bonnie will be a new challenge. She’s really easy-going but a little quieter than Lucy. But she’s still a very happening character. I’d say this character is going to be more like me than Lucy was. It will be close to real life.”
Working on E Street will also give Melissa the chance to be with close friend Jason Redlich, son of E Street producer Forrest Redlich. Despite being romantically linked, Melissa says: “We are not actually that close. We are soul mates. He is a special friend and I missed him, too.”
Melissa’s Neighbours exit has thrown storyliners into a spin. Producers had planned a major romance between Lucy and Brad Willis, played by Scott Michaelson. “The romance still happens,” Melissa reveals. “It goes quite far. Brad and Lucy make massive plans and get quite close.”
How did the Neighbours team react to Melissa’s decision? “They were upset and sad. I am too,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Neighbours, I wouldn’t be where I am and have the exposure it’s given me. Everyone made me feel so welcome. I’ve really loved working with Anne Haddy and Alan Dale especially. They’ve been really special to me. I’m going back to Sydney with so much experience, work-wise and personally.”
“Moving to Melbourne has made me a better, stronger person. It’s opened my eyes. For the first time, I’ve been totally dependent on myself.”
This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine dated 9th May 1992 and was written by Mark McGowan