Neighbours star Ben Hall, who plays Ned Willis, chats to us about Ned's stalker storyline plus how the Aussie soap is getting a bit NAUGHTY!
Argh! Ned Willis now has a stalker, in the shape of Scarlett Brady...
"Yes! We've had a few stalkers before on Neighbours. People hiding in bushes and stuff like that. But this storyline is a bit more subtle, a little darker. I wouldn't necessarily call Scarlett a villain. She has an interesting back story. Something terrible happened to her when she was a kid so now she's damaged. Ned and Scarlett do have a nice friendship but she becomes obsessive."
Have you enjoyed working with Christie Whelan Browne who plays Scarlett?
"Christie is actually a good friend of mine and an incredible actress. Originally Neighbours were going to fly an actress in from LA for the role. For some reason that didn’t happen so one of the producers asked me if I knew anybody who was available. So I suggested a couple of people including Christie and they called her agent and she came in to audition and ended-up getting the part. It was awesome. Although it did make it a little bit weird later on when there are some more intimate scenes between Ned and Scarlett! "
Scarlett is trying to drive Ned and his girlfriend Yashvi Rebecchi (Olivia Junkeer) apart by mentioning the age gap between them.
"I think that's quite clever by the writers since the audience are also wondering if the age gap between Ned and Yashvi is too much. So once Scarlett plants those seeds in both their minds she really manipulates their situation. She makes Ned see what she wants him to see, which starts to drive them apart ."
How did you feel about Ned and Yashvi getting together?
"It’s been a slowburner but as Ned has spent more time with Yashvi he can see she has grown-up a bit. She makes him laugh and she’s easy to be with. Whereas Ned's ex-girlfriend Bea Nilsson (Bonnie Anderson) was always a bit of troubled soul and Ned was always trying to help fix her. With Yashvi it’s fun and it’s much easier. "
What do viewers think about #nashvi?
"The audience is pretty divided. I lot of people don’t like Ned with Yashvi. I think when they see her in the school uniform and realise how much younger she is. People thought he was better with Bea. But I’m a #nashvi fan and I think that relationship is more fun and healthy for Ned. So I hope #nashvi last for a long time!"
There's BIG drama coming-up on Neighbours when Bea gets electrocuted in an "accident" caused by Scarlett! Tell us more?
"Ned and Bea are still friends. So as soon as he sees her hurt and in trouble, he just dives in there and gets her to hospital. I don't think it brings back his former feelings for Bea. But I'm sure Yashvi will be thinking that!"
It sounds like the residents of Ramsay Street had better beware of Scarlett!
"Yeah, this storyline gets crazier! Things escalate very quickly and viewers will realise Scarlett will go to any lengths to get what she wants and doesn't care who gets in the way..."
Neighbours went from a General (G) rating to a Parental Guidance (PG) rating last year in Australia. The soap has definitely become a lot sexier!
"I actually got a script today and I couldn't believe some of the stuff in it! In some ways the higher rating is great because you want things to be realistic. If someone gets shot there should be blood! It also means the writers can write stuff that we haven't been able to do before on Neighbours."
Neighbours continues weekdays at 1:45pm and 5:30pm on Channel 5
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Simon has long been a fan of soap operas, and especially loves OVER-THE-TOP plots involving evil twins, hair-pulling catfights and natural disasters.
Anyone remember the Sunset Beach earthquake/tidal wave?
Or when Krystle Carrington got locked in the attic and replaced by look-a-like Rita in Dynasty?!
Simon has written for a variety of TV and childrens’ magazines/websites including Inside Soap, Nickelodeon, What’s On TV, Radio Times, Metro, Girl Talk, Disney Girl, Toxic! and Digital Spy.
He has reported LIVE from the red carpet at The British Soap Awards interviewing glammed-up stars from soapland, and hosted a Facebook LIVE session for Metro with Home and Away legend Ray Meagher (Alf "Stone the flamin' crows!" Stewart) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Aussie soap.
Simon is also co-author of The Treasures Of Coronation Street (Carlton Books)