1986 – 2022
Do you watch a film with an Australian actor and play the ‘Home and Away’ or ‘Neighbours’ game? We do in our house. Together they have:
- Won two and have been nominated for seven Oscars
- Won two and have been nominated for 14 Golden Globes
- Won two Emmys
- Won one and have been nominated for four Grammys
But what some of us may not know was the network cancelled Neighbours after its first four months (not a good start) but, luckily, it was picked up by another network which began screening it six months later and it became a global favourite!
It’s hard to consider then that a soap that was nearly lost to the archives almost as soon as it began went on to run for 37 years and became a launch pad for many famous faces. This is a top ten list of actors who Neighbours made famous (based on their net worth):
Although Chris Hemsworth officially made his name in Home & Away (192 episodes) he did make one appearance in Neighbours, as Jamie Kane, five years before. Hemsworth made his first feature film, Star Trek in 2009 but it is probably as Thor that most people think of him (he has played Thor in nine films so far). [net worth of $130 million]
Born in New Zealand, Russell Crowe played Kenny Larkin in four episodes of Neighbours in 1987. He made his first film, Blood Oath, in 1990 (which also starred fellow Neighbours star Jason Donovan). Russell won an Oscar for Gladiator (2000) and a BAFTA for A Beautiful Mind (2001). His prolific acting career along with his directing and producing credentials gives him a net worth of $120 million.
Kylie Minogue, was already a household name in Australia before she became a global one in Neighbours. Her character of Charlene Ramsay/Robinson (342 episodes) launched not only her singing career but also her film one too – who can forget her first role as Cammy in Street Fighter (many of us have tried to forget the whole film not just her part!). Although her acting career isn’t prevalent she has appeared in several films but it’s probably her singing career that makes her worth $120 million.
Not such a well-known name in acting circles, Deborrah-Lee Furness appeared in five episodes of Neighbours, as Linda Fielding, back in 1985. She made her first feature film the same year playing the Statue of Liberty in Crossover Dreams. As well as an actress she is also a producer and director and is married to fellow Australian, Hugh Jackman (who despite being an Aussie never appeared in either soap). [net worth $50 million]
The complete opposite of his brother Chris, Liam Hemsworth made 25 episodes of Neighbours, as Josh Taylor, and one episode of Home and Away, yet like his brother he also made his first feature film appearance in 2009, in Knowing. Probably his most memorable role was as Gale Hawthorne in the Hunger Games quadrilogy. His net worth is almost a quarter of his brother’s at $28 million.
N.B Luke, the third Hemsworth brother, has also starred in Neighbours he made 13 episodes playing both Nathan Tyson and John Carter
Now best known as Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie played young widow Donna Freedman in 327 episodes. Her first film was released the same year she started in Neighbours – the 2008 film Vigilante. Three further films were released during her three year stint as Donna but Margot’s first big feature film – the one that probably got the most global attention – was The Wolf of Wall Street. [net worth $26 million]
Although classified as an Australian actor, Guy Pearce* was actually born in the UK and moved to Australia when he was 3 years old. He played Mike Young in 458 episodes, including several return visits over a period of 32 years. His first feature film was in 1990 as a young musician in Heaven Tonight; it is his voice performing the songs on the film’s soundtrack. Four years later he appeared as drag queen Adam/Felcia in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Jason Donovan, who played Mike’s best friend in Neighbours appeared in the stage musical of Priscilla several years later. [net worth $25 million]
*Guy also appeared in 19 episodes of Home & Away
Holly Valance made 420 appearances as Felicity (Flick) Scully. After leaving Neighbours in 2002, Holly enjoyed a prolific singing career before she made her first feature film, DOA: Dead or Alive; for which she learnt Muay Thai. [net worth $20 million]
N.B. Holly’s half-sister, Olympia, is also an actress and has appeared as Paige Smith in 495 episodes of Neighbours.
I know you’re going to say “Who?” when I say this next name and to be honest the name means nothing to me either but Brett Tucker played Daniel Fitzgerald, brother of mechanic Lucas and lover of both Libby Kennedy and Steph Scully (father of Steph’s baby boy), in 525 episodes. Although more of a TV star he has made several films including a part in Thor: The Dark World. [net worth $18 million]
Natalie Imbruglia, another actress who made a name for herself as a singer, played Beth Brennan/Willis in 149 episodes. Her first role as Interpol agent Lorna Campbell in Johnny English, nearly ten years after leaving Neighbours. [net worth $16 million]
Now that’s just a ten actors who went onto bigger and better things after Neighbours; we haven’t even got to the likes of Jason Donovan who, after playing Scott Robinson for 425 episodes, made several films, had a prolific singing career and became a big West End attraction or Billy Kennedy (464 episodes) actor Jesse Spencer who went to America and became regular characters in both House and Chicago Fire (and it’s spin offs) or Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson for 940 episodes until he had a falling out with the producers (allegedly) and they killed him off. This New Zealand born actor went on to make appearance in some big name TV programmes as well as films like Priest and Star Trek: Nemesis.
Who can say what the cast will do now that Neighbours has come to an end. We know that Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) has already had a singing career so maybe Hollywood is where he’ll go next and regular viewers know that Dr Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) is a musician so perhaps he’ll head there to star in films and write and record his own soundtracks! And what about the youngsters, Mackenzie (Georgie Stone), Freya (Phoebe Roberts) or Levi (Richie Morris) they have yet to really launch their careers, Neighbours is their springboard into the wider world just like it was for everybody else mentioned in this article. Remember these names for the future Scarlett Anderson and John Turner (Nell and Hugo Rebecchi) they are just dipping their toes in the pool of fame who knows where this will take them.
I have watched Neighbours since it first appeared on BBC1 in 1986 and it has been a part of my lunchtime since it switched over to Channel 5 fourteen years ago – what am I going to watch over lunch now? Obviously, over time, I’ll get over it but there are story lines that I’ll never forget; Scott and Charlene’s wedding, Harold being washed off the rocks and then his return, Karl and Susan breaking up and getting back together not once but twice and Bouncer the dog’s dream.
So Ramsay Street you may be gone but you’ll never be forgotten, thanks for the memories, thanks for the stars (and possible future stars)