Neighbours actress Madeline West reveals behind-the-scenes secrets to playing two characters at the same time...
Neighbours fans have been left amazed at how the show has managed to portray Dee Bliss and Andrea Somers, both played by fan favourite Madeline West, on screen at the same time.
The two characters came face-to-face recently after Andrea's mum Heather tracked Dee down in Byron Bay, and Andrea went to confront her in a terrifying clifftop showdown.
But just how do you film the same actress playing two different characters at the same time? We caught up with the lovely Madeline to find out all the insider secrets from the Neighbours set...
"I'm basically doing twice the work of everyone else, laughs the actress. "Sadly not double the pay, but I'm not complaining because it was like doing a masterclass and being paid to do it! It was an absolute joy.
"They use a camera called the 4K which splits the screen and so you can't overlap yourself. I have to play both characters, filming the same scene twice, looking in both directions and also with a body double.
"Then I have to change costume, change physicality and change voice and then play the other character, playing out the same scene all over again."
It sounds exhausting! Not that Madeline seems to mind...
"Both Dee and Andrea are amazing characters to play. I joined Neighbours 20 years ago this year and have played a slew of other characters since then. But where else are you going to get to play such unbelievable storylines in such a beautiful setting, and with incredible and dedicated crew?
"I adore Andrea. She means well, all she wants at the end of the day is to create a family with Toadie and her children. Maybe the way she goes about things isn't correct, but she's giving it a red hot go anyway.
"The key to portraying any villain is to find a grain of empathy with them, and with Andrea it is just that she wants to be loved. A good family unit is something that she never had growing up, she doesn't want to be alone like her mother, but sadly Andrea goes looking for love in all the wrong places."
Today's trip to Ramsay Street sees Dee and Toadie start to find their feet after being recently reunited, only for Dee to drop the bombshell that she would like to see Andrea one more time.
Toadie is reluctant to visit Andrea in prison, worried how Dee will cope being exposed to her manipulation and lies. But his former wife is adamant and they head to the jail to see her.
In scenes between both Andrea and Dee, actress Madeline is seen playing both characters to perfection... but how do you go from portraying evil Andrea one moment, to playing softly-spoken Dee the next?
"It took a lot of research to play both Andrea and Dee," Madeline laughs. "Each has a different voice, different ways of standing and different intonations.
"Dee isn't a carbon copy of that blushing bride she was 16 years ago when she supposedly died, she has lived as someone else all this time as Karen, and so she is a different person.
I didn't look back at old clips of Dee from when played her before. I wanted to rediscover Dee as she is now, in the environment she has been in, then add on the fact that she is now much older, she is in her 30s now.
"I don't want to mimic what she was like in her early 20s."
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5
Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia.
After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off.
She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz!
As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.
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