When the dust settles and we look back on Neighbours, how will we view its legacy? Will we see it as an integral part of the terrestrial TV monoculture? Will we scratch our heads and wonder why we spent such a long time in thrall to a show in which very little happened? Will we just remember Bouncer’s dream and discard the rest?
I suspect will we see Neighbours as a star-maker supreme. The show has probably produced more megastars than every other soap opera combined. You have already heard a ton about Margot Robbie, Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and all the other Neighbours actors who rocketed to international stardom after appearing on the show. Here, though, are some actors who had more interesting post-Neighbours experiences.
Shane Connor (Joe Scully, 1999-2004)
Although Connor has kept in regular work since leaving Neighbours – appearing in the Australian TV drama City Homicide and the horror film Wolf Creek 2 – the most interesting part of his career was his departure from Ramsay Street. Connor was fired for “negligence and misconduct” after he overcame an amphetamine problem. He took the show to court. The judge ruled he had been wrongfully dismissed and awarded him the equivalent of £130,000 in damages.
Dan Falzon (Rick Alessi, 1992-1995)
Floppy-haired heart-throb Falzon has watched his career zigzag all over the place since quitting Neighbours in the mid-1990s, continuing to act while forming a band with his brother. Until recently employed as a paramedic in Alice Springs, Falzon is also the managing director of Earth Sanctuary, an eco-tourism and astronomy business. A decade ago, he was also a YouTuber; he uploaded a video where an alien welcomes you to the Galactic Federation of Light.
Elaine Smith (Daphne Clarke, 1985-1988)
One of the original stars of Neighbours, Smith’s character was killed in a car crash at the height of her popularity. She had a successful acting career post-Neighbours, scoring roles in the TV dramas The Flying Doctors and State Coroner, but said that she struggled with the pressures of fame. In 2017, she was pictured outside a Sydney school, having retrained as a teacher.
Alan Dale (Jim Robinson, 1985-1993)
I have tried not to include many figures who continued to act after Neighbours, but Alan Dale deserves to be singled out for special attention. Prolific beyond words, there was a time when Dale would appear on television every single time that a prestigious drama needed a mildly threatening authority figure. He was Charles Widmore on Lost. He was the vice-president on 24. He was on The West Wing, and Ugly Betty, and NCIS, and CSI, and JAG. He was even in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dale has perhaps the best-furrowed field of any Neighbours actor.
Craig McLachlan (Henry Ramsay, 1987-1989)
After leaving Neighbours, McLachlan instantly had a No 2 UK hit with his song Mona, although, unlike some of his co-stars, he would prove to be a one-hit wonder. Nevertheless, he continued to act regularly on television and on stage, being nominated for a Logie award as recently as 2016. However, in 2018, an investigation revealed that he had been subject to complaints from female co-stars. Victoria Police charged him with one count of common assault, eight counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted indecent assault, although he was acquitted of all charges in 2020. He has not acted since the allegations were made and has not updated his social media since May.
Rebecca Ritters (Hannah Martin, 1992-1999)
Finally, my favourite post-Neighbours story. Ritters joined the show when she was eight and left when she was 15. She spent her subsequent years, like most teenagers, trying to find her place in the world. She toured with the British Shakespeare Company. She briefly appeared on Coronation Street. She took a job as a receptionist at Warner Brothers Records. And then, after all that, she fell into journalism. Since 2015, she has lived in Berlin, working as a reporter and anchor for Deutsche Welle, most recently covering the Ukrainian war.