7 behind-the-scenes scandals from Aussie soaps

·5 min read
Harold consoles Mackenzie on Neighbours. (Channel 5)
Neighbours' Harold will return for the last episode before the show is cancelled. (Channel 5)

There was (mild) scandal on screen in veteran Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away, but it never really matched the scandals that went on off screen…

Neighbours is cancelled after being dropped by Channel 5

Harold, Charlene and Scott are back. (Fremantle)
Harold, Charlene and Scott are back. (Fremantle)

The biggest scandal of them all came when Neighbours found itself cancelled after 37 years on screen, because UK broadcaster Channel 5 decided to drop it from their schedules. There was a flurry of activity to try to save the beloved soap, but with no other UK broadcaster secured, Neighbours simply couldn't afford to continue and filmed its last episode in June 2022. The finale included cameos from former stars Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce. Channel 5's head of programming Ben Frow was asked by Radio Times whether he could have ploughed money into the soap to save it and replied: “Yes. Or I could spend the money on other things, which is what I decided to do. I can better spend the Neighbours money on UK shows.”

Read more: Kylie and Jason to re-release 'Especially For You' to mark end of Neighbours

Alan Dale Gets Fired - Neighbours

Alan Dale played Jim Robinson from the beginning. (Neighbours)
Alan Dale played Jim Robinson from the beginning. (Neighbours)

As Erinsborough patriarch Jim Robinson, Alan Dale was a Ramsay Street staple. Until he was unceremoniously fired, and his character written out with a heart attack after eight years. It was reportedly after show management heard him complaining to a co-star about the show’s wages, said to be a pretty paltry $600 a week at the time. “I made some sort of crack about the fact that when we started doing Neighbours [in 1985], we got paid the same money as when I was doing The Young Doctors [which he starred in from 1979-1983],” he told TV Week. He went on to make it big in the US, in shows like The O.C. and 24, and movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so maybe it was a lucky break.

Dieter Brummer Vs. Melissa George - Home And Away

On screen, Dieter Brummer’s Shane and Melissa George’s Angel were teen lovers. Off screen, not so much. The pair hated each other, and he says he asked show producers to kill off his character so he wouldn’t have to deal with her diva-ish behaviour anymore. “Mel was incredibly ambitious right from the outset,” he told Woman’s Day. “I think she wanted to be the next Kylie Minogue. She was a big fan and she aspired to be a big star just like Kylie. I don’t think she had much time for the cast of Home And Away.” Dieter courted scandal himself too. He was charged with assault in 2012, after scuffling with bouncers in 2012 outside a party on Logie Awards night.

Read more: The most married soap characters on TV

Shane Connor’s Drug Shame - Neighbours

Shane Connor starred as Joe Scully. (YouTube/Neighbours)
Shane Connor starred as Joe Scully. (YouTube/Neighbours)

Connor played Joe Scully in Neighbours (seen above with his on-screen family) for four years, but was sacked in 2003 after written and verbal warnings from producers over his drug use. They claimed his problem with amphetamines was the root of alleged aggressive behaviour on set, falling asleep at work, absenteeism, and delays to filming. Connor admitted using drugs, but denied behaving aggressively or unprofessionally, taking Grundy Television to court for wrongful termination and loss of earnings. He won damages of over £84,000 in 2005.

Jay Laga'aia And Alleged Racism - Home And Away

Jay Laga'aia at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Dee Why, Sydney
Jay Laga'aia spoke out against his character being axed. (Getty)

New Zealand-born actor Jay Laga'aia was written out of his role as Home and Away's Rev Elijah Johnson in 2012, but railed against producers, claiming he was the victim of racism. He took to Twitter, blasting writers, saying: “As someone who lost his job on H&A because they couldn’t write two ethnics that weren’t together, I’d like a chance to ply my trade freely.” The 'two ethnics’ remark was thought to relate to him and long-time cast-member Ada Nicodemou, who is Greek Cypriot. “Jay’s comments are offensive,” a Channel 7 spokesman said in retaliation. “We have great regard for Jay and his work on Home and Away during the last two years. It is insulting to suggest that Home and Away is racist.”

Rob Mammone 'Spoke The Truth’ - Home And Away

Rob Mammone played Sid Walker. (Channel 5/YouTube)
Rob Mammone played Sid Walker. (Channel 5/YouTube)

Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions star Rob Mammone played local doctor Sid Walker in Home and Away from 2010 to 2013, but was written out, notably after publicly criticising the show on Twitter over the handling of a cancer storyline concerning his on-screen son-in-law. He claimed he’d been forced to re-write some of his own scenes to make them more believable. He told fans he was axed for 'speaking up for the truth too often’.

When Brad Sued Flick For Breach Of Contract - Neighbours

Australian soap star Holly Valance clings to her notes as she leaves the

Supreme Court followed by a member of her legal team in Sydney September 17,

2003. Valance is being sued by her former manager Scott Michaelson, who

claims he discovered the former Neighbours television soap opera star as a

15-year-old aspiring actress. Michaelson is suing Valance, 20, claiming

breach of contract and lost opportunity after he was dumped as her manager

when Valance began a pop singing career. REUTERS/Will Burgess    pp03090090



WB
The case ended up in court. (Reuters)

Brad Willis was the handsome surf dude played by Scott Michaelson in Neighbours, who, in real life, went on to become manager to Holly Valance, who played Flick Scully in the show, taking on her budding pop and modelling career. He even bagged her her role in the soap. However, he took her to court when she dropped him 15 months before the end of his contract. Michaelson alleged that while he was at a solarium convention (obviously), she was courting record labels in London without him, and got herself a record deal. The video for her hit single 'Kiss Kiss’ was even played in court. Michaelson won the case and was awarded significant damages.

Watch: Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan reunite on Neighbours set

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