Keeping mum on secrets and lies
Kate Kendall talks about her Neighbours baby bombshell, and her real- life Brady Bunch. COLIN VICKERY reports
WHEN Kate Kendall played feisty undercover detective Angie Piper in Aussie crime drama Stingers back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, no- one would have predicted the actress would become one of Australia’s favourite TV mums.
Piper, teamed with Senior Constable Peter Church ( Peter Phelps), was too busy busting bad guys to get all motherly. Things are very different in 2014. Kendall is married to former AFL footballer Wayne Johnston. The pair have a four- yearold son Darcy and Kendall is step- mum to four adult children from Johnson’s previous marriage.
On Neighbours, Kendall plays Lauren Turner who, along with husband Matt ( Josef Brown), has three children – Mason ( Taylor Glockner), Amber ( Jenna Rosenow) and Bailey ( Calen Mackenzie).
Kendall is a one- woman Brady Bunch with real life and TV families to take care of. Julie Rafter eat your heart out.
“Neighbours works in so well, fi tting in with family life,” Kendall says.
“I’m home at a reasonable hour and that was really important to me.
“I’m also at a time in my life when I want a bit of security happening. That defi nitely played a part in my decision ( joining Neighbours).
“Executive producer Richard Jasek had been a director on Stingers. Seeing the direction the show was taking and the character I thought, ‘ let’s go for it’.”
Neighbours fans know the character of Lauren Turner fi rst appeared on the show in 1993 and was originally played by Sarah Vandenberg. The actress quit the following year, reportedly after producers said the character would have less screen time.
Lauren is the daughter of Lou Carpenter ( Tom Oliver) and in her fi rst stint had an affair with Brad Willis ( Scott Michaelson).
In the fi nal episode of Neighbours for 2013, Kendall’s Lauren dropped a bombshell to Lucy Robinson ( Melissa Bell) that she had a baby to Brad, but never told him. She had been keeping this secret from everyone except her mother Kathy ( Tina Bursill, who recently joined the cast) who helped her hide the pregnancy.
The baby died and feelings of grief still engulf Lauren. That has the potential to rip her marriage to Matt apart. The couple live across the road from Brad. Matt already senses Lauren still has feelings for her former fl ame.
Lauren’s life unravels further as she deals with eldest son Mason heading off to pursue a new job. Lauren had brought her family back to Erinsborough from Mt Isa after Mason was sent to juvenile detention for a local robbery.
“Because Neighbours has so many fans, I’m sure there are people who are brutally aware that I do things differently to the original actress,” Kendall says.
“It [ Lauren’s original appearance] was such a long time ago that I was given carte blanche to create a new character.
“We still hark back to historical facts like the relationship between Brad and Lauren but if you’re going to play a character that might be there for a while you can’t be doing somebody else’s interpretation on it.
“Lauren has taken lots of interesting turns this year. She has a big heart and is the centre of her family and home but I’ve been looking for interesting ways to portray her so that she’s not too much of a domestic goddess.
“That [ domestic goddess] is so far removed from me. I don’t bake; Lauren’s always whipping out a cake and taking food around to other people’s houses.
“She is a wife and a mother that on the surface could look quite bland and I wanted to take her out of that area. She has secrets which makes the character more interesting. It gives her a bit of an edge. Otherwise she could come off as perfect.
“If you have kept a secret for a long time then there is usually a bigger explosion when it comes out.
“There is stuff coming up this year that I have fi lmed with Tina that is fantastic. We get to explore some meaty sides of Lauren.”
“Working with a new family was a really tricky thing too. We had to make it real for the audience so that it didn’t look like we had just been thrown together. When you do so many scenes with your on- air family, they do start to feel like your children.
“In real life, being a step- mum has been an amazing ride but it is different to having a little person that you have given birth to.
“Motherhood is the best thing.” NEIGHBOURS RETURNS MONDAY, 6.30PM, ELEVEN