When I think back to my days growing up. I used to get home from school, put on the TV while mum made dinner and watch Home and Away and Neighbours. It is hard to believe that is now over 20 years ago.
Do you remember the super geeky Plain Jane from Neighbours? We all loved her with her huge specks and her smarts.
Jane, who was played by Annie Jones first appeared on the show back in July 1986. Jones had originally auditioned for the part of Charlene Mitchell but that role went to Kylie Minogue. She phoned the producers for months after being turned down for the role of Charlene and eventually they agreed to cast her as Jane.
During her time on the show “Plain Jane Superbrain” as she was known went through a complete image change from geek to sexy. She turned from a mousy nervous character into a heart breaker.
Her most notable storyline came when she went through a journey of self discovery ending in her removal of her glasses and putting on make up and sexy dresses. She did this in order to win the heart of Mike Young, played by Guy Pearce.
This is the moment she came out of her room all glammed up and mike saw her with her new image for the first time.
At the time the scene was hugely popular and everyone loved it. However since then it has been criticised for eluding to the fact that women who are intelligent and don’t wear a lot of make up and sexy clothes are less desirable.
Jones also received the Logie Award for Most Popular Actress while portraying Jane.
In 1989, Jones decided it was time to leave the show so she could pursue other projects. Her contract was up for renewal and she was welcome to stay on the show but she declined. At the time she told Chrissie Camp (TV Week) that three years on a soap opera was long enough and the right time to leave.
Her exit involved her receiving bad news about Nell’s health and performing a “mercy dash overseas”. At the time she is engaged to Des who pleads with her not to move away.
She leaves regardless of Des’ request and their wedding plans are put on hold. She left and never came back.
After leaving the show, Annie Jones played a number of different parts. She was also an opalminer’s daughter in “The Flying Doctors” in 1990. She also played the title role in the drama Jackaroo (1990), which won her a second Logie award in 1991 – Most Popular Actress in a Telemovie or Mini-series. Annie also played the part of Eva Kovac in the historical mini-series Snowy (1993).
Following on from that Annie has played a number of roles in different shows including Wentworth (2013), City Homicide(2007), Stingers (2003), Blue Heelers (1994, 2002), Marshall Law (2002), Good Guys, Bad Guys (1997) and Halifax (2006).
Her role as Jane made her one of the most known Australian actresses in the 80s.
She really has aged since the show but still looking good!
But what about Annie Jones’s fellow neighbours. What do they look like today?
Felicity Scully as Holly Valance
Character Felicity Scully from Neighbours appeared on screens 1999 – 2002. Felicity joined the show’s list of characters in 1999 when she and her family moved in to the area. She was an active feminist at the time when she joined the show, even at the tender age of 15.
Felicity went through a string of crushes on other characters in the show, most notably Flick, and had some intriguing story lines over the years that she appeared in the show. Which of her story lines was the most memorable and your favourite?
After coming out of Neighbours in 2002, she released her first album Footprints, which included the single “Kiss Kiss”. In 2004, Valance returned to acting but this time in the United States instead of Australia. She appeared in episodes of CSI: Miami and Entourage and then in 2005, she appeared in an episode of CSI: NY. In 2006, she appeared in Prison Break as Nika Volek and she also appeared in the National Lampoon comedy Pledge This! alongside American socialite Paris Hilton.
In the same year, she starred in DOA: Dead or Alive, an adaptation of the popular video game Dead or Alive, where she played Christie. Did you know Holly had a role in the film Taken alongside Liam Neeson in 2008? In 2013, Valance was mentor and judge of fashion competition Shopaholic Showdown and then in 2015, she starred in the action film Red Herring as Angela.
After living in LA for seven years, Valance returned to the UK in 2009. On 29th September 2012, Valance married billionaire British property developer Nick Candy in Beverly Hills, California. In November 2013, Valance gave birth in London to their first child, a daughter called Luke Violet Toni Candy and they’re now expecting their 2nd child.
Anne Wilkinson (Brooke Satchwell)
Character Anne Wilkinson from Neighbours appeared on our TV screens in 1996 and actress Brooke Satchwell captivated her audience with her notoriously rocky relationship with Billy Kennedy.
When they moved in to Ramsay Street, Anne decided she wasn’t keen on her dad’s new girlfriend and so moves out to stay with Ruth and Lance, so it was a rocky road from the start!
With an on-screen relationship that was similar to that of Scott (played by Jason Donovan) and Charlene (played by Kylie Minogue), Anne and Billy shared a memorable scene where they laughed together whilst skinny dipping.
Brooke was since nominated for Best Actress at the Inside Soap Awards, a year after winning a Logie Award for Most Popular New Talent in 1998. She also won the people’s Choice Award for Favourite Teen Idol in 2000. However, she reported to Australian TV news the same year that she “never intended to stay more than three years” on Neighbours, and made the decision to leave the show, leaving her fans devastated.
Brooke, now aged 36 years old, has continued her acting career in Melbourne. She has appeared in Dangerous as Donna McCarthy, as Grace Barns in Wonderland and as Frankie in Packed to the Rafters.
Since leaving the soap, Brooke has additionally modelled for Pantene, becoming a spokesperson for the company, and is often a panellist on Dirty Laundry Live, a celebrity gossip show. She is certainly keeping busy and looks great at the same time!
Her highly publicised relationship with Matthew Newton ended after 5 years in 2006, after the controversial actor pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault against Brooke. Despite this, the conviction never reached a full conclusion and was dropped shortly afterwards.
Brooke has since found love again and is now engaged with David Gross, a film editor who was born in Sydney, since October 2012. She seems to be finding success in all aspects of her life at the moment, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Libby Kennedy (Kym Valentine)
Libby Kennedy, later Kennedy- Fitzgerald was the daughter of Karl and Susan Kennedy, who were introduced to the show back in 1994. The producers decided to introduce a ‘solid’ family to bring the show back to where it started, and attempt to make the show more wholesome and less full of misfits and distant relatives.
Libby was involved in many story lines through her run on the show. She was involved in a motorbike accident, the loss of her husband (Drew), and the birth of her son (Ben). Libby also married Daniel Fitzgerald, and later separated from him. That’s certainly a lot of big story lines for one character to go through, yet Libby was always one of the more believable characters on the show.
The role of Libby was temporarily recast in 2008, as Kym Valentine was taken ill. The actress was diagnosed with pneumonia and a collapsed lung and needed time to recover. She was originally meant to be written out of the show for a week, but the character was involved with too many story lines to be written out so she stayed.
Instead the role was temporarily played by Michala Banas.
Kym Valentine is now 39 years old, and has a daughter with her ex husband Vince Colosimo, and a son with her current fiance Trent Croad.
As you can see, Kym Valentine is still absolutely stunning, and she’s also been involved in theatre productions, and even made a brief comeback appearing in a handful of episodes of Neighbours back in 2014.
Drew Kirk (Dan Paris)
Drew Kirk first appeared on Neighbours back in 1998, and he soon found work as a mechanic in the local garage. Drew was loyal, nice, but also rather naive. It seemed at first that Neighbours had brought in a very sterotypical character that we all knew exactly what was coming, but over the years we realised they had broken the mould a bit with Drew as his character developed.
Drew soon started dating Libby, and eventually got married on the show, as well as starting their own family together. The couple had a child together, Ben. Unfortunately their happy little family wouldn’t last long as Drew was killed off in 2002. He died after falling off his horse while riding with Libby.
The funeral was really upsetting, and very well filmed as it ended with viewers everywhere having a lump in their throat and a tear in their eye. Drew however did return three years after his departure. He returned in Stephanie Scully’s dreams. Yeah, we don’t talk about that episode, even Neighbours had its share of duff moments!
Since his departure from Neighbours Dan has still found work performing on TV, and in a rather strange Neighbour’s spin off, Neighbours vs Zombies. in 2014.
Dan has also managed to cross over his acting into present a number of TV shows and history documentaries.
Most recently Dan now lives on a 10 acre property in Esperance, Western Australia with his partner and his two young sons. And since leaving the soap, Dan Paris has enjoyed his career as a travelling the country as a photographer in Western Australia.
Speaking to News.com.au the 44-year-old said the first thing he bought after leaving the Ramsey Street was a nice camera to fuel his passion for photography.
Scott “Stingray” Timmins (Ben Nicholas)
Scott Timmins was in Neighbours between 2004 and 2007 until the character was killed off, though in that time his character faced his fair share of drama, heartache and tragedy with his partner dying in a plane crash, facing up to being an alcoholic and then dying himself shortly after being a bone-marrow donor for Kerry.
Ben has continued working in TV. He is currently writing, producing, and starring in the Australian show, Footballer Wants A Wife, and has also appeared in the odd Neighbours spin-off shows Neighbours Vs Zombies and Neighbours Vs Time Travel.
Ben has kept himself busy and does still appear on our screens occasionally, recently turning up in the TV show Flunk.
Hannah Martin (Rebecca Ritters)
Hannah Martin first Joined Neighbours in 1992 before leaving in 1999. She then rejoined the show some years later but left for good in 2005. Ritters reprised her role for a brief cameo in the show’s 20th anniversary episode.
Hannah Martin was first introduced as a friend for Toby Mangle, a friendship that was fortuitous when Hannah was nearly kidnapped and Toby managed to foil her abductors!
Since leaving the show, Ritters is now a broadcast journalist.
She has also had a few parts in theatre productions and even had a brief cameo on everyone’s favourite cobbled road, Coronation Street!
It’s amazing just how much Rebecca Ritters has changed over the years, yet if you look close you can just about see Hannah Martin underneath the lovely young woman she has become, but that doesn’t make us feel any less old seeing Hannah Martin like this!
She currently works for Deutsche Welle in Berlin
Billy Kennedy (Jesse Spencer)
Billy Kennedy moved to Ramsay Street with his father Karl Kennedy and soon befriended Toadfish and Hannah Martin. Billy was one of those characters who was around for years without really doing a lot and was eventually written out of the show in a fairly undramatic story line. It seemed like a bit of a let down for fans of the character but left the door open for the character to return if Jesse Spencer wanted to do so.
Does anyone else remember his pet sheep, Cassie (short for casserole!)?
The actor who played Billy, Jesse Spencer, has gone on to be very successful. Jesse played Dr Robert Chase in House for 8 years alongside a true British stalwart Hugh Laurie, and is currently playing Matthew Casey in Chicago Fire.
Spencer’s career shows absolutely no signs of slowing down and he has proven himself to be a very successful and talented actor, who has also shown far more versatility to his abilities in front of the screen than the character of Billy ever gave him the opportunity to do.
Connor O’Neill (Patrick Harvey)
Connor had a string of big story lines including a plane crash seeing him washed ashore, a one-night stand seeing him get Lori pregnant, and then the story line that made people think he’d been killed off when he’d actually just gone travelling. Again only in an Australian Soap could all this happen to one character!
Connor left Neighbours in 2006 under pretty suspicious circumstances, but Harvey reprised his role briefly back in 2012. He featured in the show for four weeks from late October in Australia and November for UK audiences in 2012 when his character came back in to the show but didn’t really do anything of note. He certainly isn’t one of the most memorable characters but he was like Marmite and people either loved or hated the character!
In 2015, Patrick co-starred in the horror film Scare Campaign, and has since been playing Sinbad in Sherazade: The Untold Stories. He is certainly keeping busy, and looks like he’s not slowing down any time soon.
Rachel Kinski (Caitlin Stasey)
Rachel Kinski was introduced with her family as they moved to the area of Ramsay Street, she was singled out in school for singing in the corridor and because she had an issue understanding the other students at first. She later enters in to a forbidden relationship with her new teacher and eventually moves to London where she has a scholarship.
After leaving the show in 2008, Stasey has continued to have a pretty active acting career. She can currently be seen on Fox’s APB as Ada Hamilton, and has also starred in Please Like Me as Claire for 3 years.
Caitlin Stasey is becoming a very prolific actress and is continuing to appear on our screens, her stunning beauty has certainly never been a hindrance and we’re always happy to see her on our screens. she has also proven time and again, though, that she’s not just a pretty face and is a genuinely talented actress.
Zeke Kinski – Matthew Werkmeister
Zeke and his family moved to the area and then the story lines began to start for the family. Zeke went to an illegal party with Taylah Jordan and the warehouse where they were collapses trapping Zeke inside.
He later had a rafting accident leaving him with short term memory loss and eventually went on to move to London.
Matthew Werkmeister then went on to star in Chris and Josh on TV as Josh for 4 years in a fairly memorable role.
Matthew is still acting and is currently in pre-production for a role in a new series, Legends in which he will play Anastasios. It’s great to see that he’s still making a success of his acting career.
Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh)
Sky Mangel was first introduced as a little girl of Kerry who then goes on to marry Joe Mangel. But when Kerry dies, Sky’s biological father takes custody of her and she was written out for 12 years. The character was then reintroduced and became well-known for being the first openly lesbian character in Neighbours along with having been involved in the show’s first on-screen lesbian kiss.
Now, Stephanie continues to act and lives in LA with her family, though she has not been particularly prolific on our screens since leaving Ramsay Street. She has, however completed a couple of projects recently so may well return to our screens soon.
Look out for her in Fernando Bang Bangs and also in the upcoming TV movie, The Force in which she will play the character of Dina Winters.
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