*WARNING EMARGOED for The Guide cover March 12* Stefan Dennis stars in the TV series Neighbours. Supplied by Channel 10. Please credit photo to Tina Smigielski.
*WARNING EMARGOED for The Guide cover March 12* Stefan Dennis stars in the TV series Neighbours. Supplied by Channel 10. Please credit photo to Tina Smigielski. Tina Smigielski

Ramsay Street's star-studded 30th birthday bash

EVERYBODY needs good neighbours.

It's a statement as true today as when it was penned for the theme song of Aussie soap Neighbours in 1984.

The long-running show, like the song originally performed by Barry Crocker, has gone through various incarnations over the years. But while Ramsay Street has seen hundreds of residents come and go, the foundations of Erinsborough remain the same.

Stefan Dennis is the only original cast member from the first episode still on the show today.

"That period, between 1986 and 1992, was just hysteria," he told APN.

"Nobody had any idea that Neighbours was going to do what it did, not just here but in Europe as well.

"We got into a lot of trouble because we weren't ready for it. Over in the UK we would get off a plane and get bombarded by the paparazzi at the airport. We didn't know about the tabloid press, but in amongst all of that we had such incredible fun."

After a 12-year hiatus, Dennis returned to the show in 2004 to take up his place as Ramsay Street's resident villain.

But Paul Robinson hasn't always been the bad guy.

Olympia Valance and Morgana O'Reilly star in the TV series Neighbours in its 30th anniversary year. Supplied by Channel 10.
Olympia Valance and Morgana O'Reilly star in the TV series Neighbours in its 30th anniversary year. Supplied by Channel 10.

"I enjoyed the transition of Paul going from Mr Nice Guy to super ambitious.

"He wasn't evil in the beginning. He was just a bit of a cad, I thought. He didn't think twice about stepping over people.

"I also loved the period when I first came back. I called it the Izzy (character played by Natalie Bassingthwaighte) years. That was just two years of fun because my character was evil but he did it with such aplomb and such glee," Dennis said.

Neighbours, like many nightly soaps around the world, is best known as a training ground for young and up-and-coming talent.

The cast and crew shoot six episodes each week, a pace not matched by any other Australian drama.

The show helped to launch the careers of many successful actors and singers - from Chris Hemsworth and Kylie Minogue, to Delta Goodrem, Craig McLachlan, Daniel MacPherson, Guy Pearce and, more recently, Margot Robbie.

Olympia Valance made her TV debut on the show as Paige Novak last year, following in the footsteps of her now famous older sister Holly.

"I'm absolutely loving it," she said.

"When I came on it was pretty full-on but I didn't know anything else. People always go 'this is like the hard knocks for acting'.

"I'm just excited I get the hardest set to work on and then hopefully in the future I can do anything."

The Neighbours 30th Anniversary: The Stars Reunite special airs tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 10.


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