Back­yard ad­di­tion adds to Neigh­bours’ out­look

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story - AN­DREW FEN­TON

STE­FAN Dennis, who plays res­i­dent bad­die Paul Robin­son on Neigh­bours, ad­mits the lon­grun­ning soap has ‘‘ gone off the rails a cou­ple of times’’.

‘‘ Paul’s got away with grand ar­son and mur­der,’’ laughs the soapie veteran. ‘‘ When I came back into the show, the way Paul’s sto­ries con­tin­ued just got more and more ridicu­lous. When you re­alise it’s a show about sub- ur­ban Aus­tralia, it got a bit big, it got a lit­tle car­i­ca­tured.’’

But, he says, the pro­duc­ers al­ways man­aged to steer it back on the straight and nar­row.

The sub­ur­ban na­ture of the show was en­hanced last week when its mak­ers un­veiled a mil­lion-dol­lar ex­pan­sion of its stu­dios in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Nu­nawad­ing. The ex­te­ri­ors for Ram­say Street are filmed at nearby Pin Oak Court in Ver­mont South, but the back­yards there are mostly un­suit­able due to space con- straints. So, af­ter 28 years, view­ers will be in­vited into their back­yards from May, thanks to three new out­door sets, re­plete with pools, spas and out­door liv­ing ar­eas, built for num­bers 22, 26 and 32.

‘‘ It means we can shoot out there rather than make ex­cuses to have bar­be­cues out the front of our houses,’’ laughs Ash­leigh Brewer, who plays Kate Ram­say.

Dennis says Neigh­bours’ or­di­nary sub­ur­ban set­ting and the re­newal of sets and characters means the soapie could po­ten­tially run for 100 years.

‘‘ It will have gone through many, many changes and meta­mor­pho­sis over the decades, but the street will still be there, and the houses will still be there.’’

And if his wife has any­thing to do with it, Dennis will be there for decades to come too. The role pays for their kids’ ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘ The greater the longevity for me and my char­ac­ter, the hap­pier she’ll be.’’ Neigh­bours, Eleven, week­nights, 6.30pm

Sub­ur­ban vil­lain: Ste­fan Dennis is quite at home on Ram­say Street

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