The West

Fan power saves soapie

When TV soap doyenne Kristian Alfonso got wind through the social media grapevine that Days of Our Lives was pulled off Australian TV screens last year, her first reaction was to investigate why.

Heeding the grievances of her Aussie fans, many of whom were up in arms when the show was dropped from Nine's weekday schedule last April, the 50-year-old actress decided to take matters into her own hands.

"I actually found that it had been pulled off air here through Twitter," Alfonso explained during a recent trip to Sydney for the pay-TV ASTRA Awards.

"Fans had tweeted me and I was so surprised. So I put my detective hat on and I called publicity and said: 'Is this true? Can I tweet about it?'"

But the power of social media eventually prevailed.

In February, Foxtel announced it had picked up the popular daytime soap for its pay-TV channel Arena.

From Tuesday, Days of Our Lives will air express from the US on Arena but to keep fans up-to-date on what has unfolded in the fictional town of Salem in the past 18 months, 10 specially selected catch-up episodes have been screening since April 1.

For Alfonso, knowing that so many Australian fans had fought long and hard for the show's return was "overwhelming".

"I think the Australian viewers had a big voice and they made it happen," she said. "It's so exciting for us that the show is coming back to Australia."

Alfonso has a long history on Days of Our Lives which dates back to 1983, where she first arrived in Salem as young, fresh-faced Hope Williams, the daughter of Douglas Williams (Bill Hayes).

It was during these years that Hope became involved in what would go down in history as one of daytime TV drama's most revered couples, Hope and Bo (a role made famous by US actor Peter Reckell).

After four years of tears, tragedies and triumphs together, Bo, Hope and their son Shawn departed Salem to embark on a world sailing trip.

The couple eventually returned to screens in 1990 but their stint together was short- lived when Hope was taken hostage in a cave, which later exploded.

Presumed dead by the Salem community, Hope not only left behind a widowed Bo and her young son Shawn, but also a throng of heartbroken fans who at the time were outraged by her death.

But the actress returned again years later, this time incognito as Princess Gina Von Amberg, albeit at no fault of her own, having been brainwashed by one of Salem's most notorious villains, Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Looking back at all the drama and torment Alfonso has endured as Hope over the past 30 years, the actress said it was the controversial Princess Gina storylines that were the most memorable.

"I was playing four characters, I was playing Hope, then Hope as Gina and Gina as Hope and Princess Gina," Alfonso recalled. "So trying to keep them all straight, because I was playing those characters opposite one another, was incredibly challenging, but it was so much fun."

Although Reckell departed the show in 2012, the iconic Bo and Hope bond lives on.

Despite Reckell's absence on screen, Bo is referred to on the soap often as being away on business or visiting family.

Even though Alfonso has spent most of the past three decades playing her TV alter-ego, there is never a dull day on set.

"I think the reason why I've stayed and been with the show as long as I have is because I'm so challenged and the storylines are amazing and keep me interested," she said.

"We're a family. I've said it so many times, and a lot of actors from other shows whether daytime or primetime will come onto the set and be like 'Wow, everyone is so wonderful here'."

· *Vanessa Williams *visited Sydney as a guest of Foxtel.

The West Australian

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