Neighbours: Where are they now?
Neighbours: Where are they now?

In the 25 years Network Ten has run its iconic soap, as the theme suggests, Neighbours has become our good friend.

Since the first episode aired on March 18, 1985, more than 170 series regulars have made their mark on Ramsay Street. These personalities have become so engrained in the Australian psyche that last year the show became the first Australian series to establish Twitter accounts for its characters.

In celebration of the show's 6000th episode screening next week, we take a look at some of the characters and the actors who played them. Gone but not forgotten.

<b>Elaine Smith</b>

Spiky-haired stripper Daphne Lawrence performed at Des Clarke's stag party and ended up moving in with him when he was jilted in the very first episode. Her profession divided the street, but Daphne soon became popular in Erinsborough, marrying Des in 1986. After giving birth to son Jamie the following year and giving up stripping to run the coffee shop, in 1987 Daphne went to look after her sick father and Smith left the show.

She claimed at the time that Daphne had "done it all" however, both Smith and the show's producers knew viewers would never accept a split between Des and Daph, and she returned for a final storyline in 1988. A car crash left Daphne in a coma (allegedly a delaying tactic while Grundy tried to persuade Smith to sign a new contract), and she eventually became the first regular character to die.

Smith has since appeared in The Flying Doctors, State Coroner and All Saints in 2006, the last time she appeared on our screens.

<b>Paul Keane</b>

Desmond "Des" Clarke was the loveable (if slightly dopey) assistant bank manager, doomed to be a loser in love. Julie Robinson dumped him before the show even began, Lorraine Kingham jilted him on the day of their wedding in the debut episode, and when he fell for his housemate Daphne Lawrence, she was already dating Shane Ramsay. However, as any Neighbours' fanatic will know, Des finally won the girl when he wed Daphne in one of Ramsay Street's first weddings.

Following Daphne's death, Des lived alone with his son Jamie until moving to Perth in 1990, where he remarried, and left the show.

Keane's exit from the show was not a happy one. Struggling with the pressures of fame, he had developed a drug problem, which he would go on to battle for 10 years. Keane, who trained at NIDA, has given up acting and was last seen working as a barman.

<b>Linda Hartley-Clark</b>

Kerry Bishop, the youngest child of Harold and Mavis Bishop returned home to Ramsay Street after travelling the world in Neighbours' fifth season, and briefly moved into number 24 with her father. However, Kerry's lifestyle didn't fit with her church-going father Harold, who was shocked at his daughter's opposition to Christianity, her tumultuous relationship with Joe Mangel and the fact she had a daughter, Skye, out of wedlock. Despite a frosty beginning, Kerry eventually built up a healthy relationship with Harold.

In 1990 tragedy struck when a heavily pregnant Kerry went to protest against duck hunting in the marshes with her friend Amber Martin. Kerry was hit by a stray bullet and was rushed to hospital where both she and the baby died leaving Harold devastated.

After a few guest stints on the show, voicing letters to daughter Skye and as Kerry look-a-like Gabby Walker, Linda Hartley-Clark has given up acting and lives in Melbourne with her husband, John Clark (former drummer with Craig McLachlan's band, Check 1-2) and their two young children.

<b>Anne Haddy </b>

Founding Neighbours character Helen Daniels was famously created to challenge the battleaxe mother-in-law stereotype.

Helen helped son-in-law Jim run the Robinson household, fast becoming a friend and shoulder to cry on for Ramsay Street.

Australian TV's most famous gran, she also proved life could begin at 60, running her own limo hire firm and finding love again with Michael Daniels and Reuben White.

Following the death of Jim and grand-daughter Julie in previous seasons, Helen's health began to fail and she passed away peacefully in her sleep in 1997.

Off-screen, Anne Haddy was hugely dedicated to Neighbours and her role of Helen, famously claiming "I'll leave when I die".

After reluctantly leaving the show due to her failing health, Anne retired, and passed away on June 6, 1999 in Melbourne.

<b>Darius Perkins </b>

One of Ramsay Street's most famous characters, Scott Robinson was one of the show's most popular pin-up characters and his relationship with Charlene Mitchell defined Neighbours in the late 1980s.

However many will forget, Scott, made famous by actor Jason Donovan was originally played by Darius Perkins.

Due to concerns over the reliability of Perkins, Network Ten decided to recast the role of Scott when they took over production of Neighbours from Channel Seven.

While Scott's romance with Charlene gripped the world, creating two international stars in the process, Darius was all but forgotten, playing Gary Samuels in Home and Away for a mere 11 episodes before being killed off. Perkins hasn't won a major TV role since and has more recently been seen working behind the scenes, most notably in the art department for the 2003 Ten series Crashburn.

<b>Dan Paris</b>

Country boy Andrew "Drew" Kirk came to Erinsborough to stay with his Aunt Janet and found himself working for Lou Carpenter at Carpenter Mechanics, leaving behind his farm life in Oakey Queensland for good.

An all round nice guy, Drew soon took an interest in Libby Kennedy but took his time courting her. The couple finally got together on a trip to the rodeo in Drew's home town of Oakey and later married and had a son, Ben.

Drew's father, Ron, asked Libby and Drew to Oakey for the weekend and the couple discussed making a permanent move to the country. After deciding they would indeed make the move, Drew, out horse riding, was suddenly thrown to the ground by his horse, suffering fatal injuries.

Drew briefly returned as a vision to Libby's best friend Stephanie Scully in her dreams in 2005 telling her that her cancer had returned.

After leaving Neighbours, Dan Paris had two further acting roles in MDA and McLeod's Daughters. Paris left acting permanently in 2005 to develop a career as a landscape photographer in Esperance. Last year he produced a book on the town, Leaving Footprints in Esperance.

<b>Shane Connor</b>

Joseph "Joe" Scully first appeared in 1999 when he and his family moved into the house at 26 Ramsay Street recently vacated by the Martin family.

Joe started as an apprentice in the building trade, eventually forming his own construction company, Ozbuilt.

He and wife Lyn, who already had four children, went on to have their fifth child Oscar Scully. Soon after the birth of Oscar, Joe's father fell ill and he left Ramsay Street to live with him and work on his father's farm.

These were said to be temporary plans, however Joe never returned. Lyn remained and later their marriage was dissolved.

Connor was sacked from the series in September 2003, several months after receiving a written warning from producers in relation to an amphetamine addiction. Members of the cast and crew had complained about his behaviour at work, including alleged aggressive behaviour and lateness which delayed production. Connor's older brother had died in June 2001, which led to Connor's depression and drug addiction.

However, he claimed he had overcome his addiction and sued the show's producer, Grundy Television, for wrongful termination of his contract, seeking about $200,000.

Connor won the case and was awarded more than $230,000.

<b>Gayle and Gillian Blakeney</b>

The Alessi twins became regulars on Neighbours when in the early part of 1990, Paul Robinson hired a new office manager in the form of the mysterious Linda Giles. It eventually emerged that Linda was in fact a set of twins, Caroline and Christina Alessi, and their secrecy was due to them being sent to Ramsay Street as part of a witness protection scheme.

After Paul moved into number 22 with the twins, they both battled for his affections, Christina winning out in the end, wedding the local business mogul with Caroline as their bridesmaid.

Both left the show at different stages; in 1992, Caroline moved to Milan to manage a hotel of her own and Christina later relocated to Hawaii with Paul and their son Andrew.

Gayle and Gillian Blakeney, identical twins in reality, released two singles in the UK post-Neighbours as Gayle & Gillian. While in the UK the twins made a brief return to television as co-hosts on UK game show Take Your Pick as well as acting on stage.

In 1994 the sisters moved to the US (where they still reside today) to pursue acting roles, landing guest spots on various film and TV projects.

The West Australian

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