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article imageOz soap Neighbours invites you to be a star for a month

By Andrew John     Apr 20, 2010 in Entertainment
The Australian soap Neighbours is to give British fans a chance to have a guest role for a month, it has been announced.
Producers want a female actor to play Poppy Rogers, an old friend of Malcolm Kennedy. She’s due to arrive on Ramsay Street in the not-too-distant future.
She’s described as a “free-spirited young woman in her early 20s.” The character grew up in a small country village in England and met Malcolm while backpacking around Europe.
The new talent search is being organized by Neighbours’ UK broadcaster Five as part of the programme’s 25th-anniversary celebrations. The broadcaster says applicants must be aged 18 or over on May 28, 2010. They can download an audition script from Five’s website and upload their auditions on the video-sharing site YouTube.
After this initial audition stage, judges will choose five finalists and put them forward for a public vote. The two with the highest number of votes will then fly out to Melbourne, where a winner will be picked by Neighbours bosses.
Five’s controller Richard Woolfe says: “Neighbours is loved and watched by millions in the UK. I’m thrilled we have the opportunity to find a brand-new star and hand them the international stage Neighbours provides.”
Neighbours was created by Reg Watson, and had its premiere in Australia on March 18, 1985. It has continued on a different network and is the longest-running drama series on Australian television.
It has sold to 57 countries around the world, making it one of Australia’s most successful media exports. It’s proved to be more popular in the UK than in Oz, having been screened on BBC1 from 1986 till 2008, and in the late 200s it was attracting about 3 million views for its lunchtime airing and 2.6 for the repeat in the early evening.
It often scores as the highest-rating daytime programme in the UK (news bulletins being an exception). It was in 2008 that the UK broadcast moved to Five after the BBC – having been asked to pay £300 million over eight years for it – had withdrawn from talks to retain it.
Five began broadcasting the soap in February 2008, the first episode shown being Episode 5,331, which was seen by 2.2 million viewers (giving it an audience share of 14.2 percent). While this marked a drop of 300,000 from the BBC’s average, it boosted Five’s usual share for the 5.30 p.m. slot three and a half times.
Neighbours celebrated its 25th anniversary in March this year. At that time, executive producer
Susan Bower told Five’s Holy Soap website that the show would have new opening titles that would contain some “bling” to reflect the anniversary.
Actor Jason Donovan, who played Mike Young, said he was asked to return to the show, but cannot because work commitments.
Notable cast members have included Alan Dale (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Torchwood), who played Jim Robinson for eight years (1985–93), Anne Charleston (Crossroads, Emmerdale), who played Helen Daniels for 12 years (1985–97), Guy Pearce (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Memento), who played Mike Young (1986–89), Jason Donovan (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Echo Beach), who played Scott Robinson (1986–88), and Kylie Minogue (Doctor Who), who played Charlene Mitchell (1986–88).
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