Kate’s DOUBLE TAKE
When Kate Kendall walks on to Ramsay Street next month, viewers of long-running soap Neighbours will do a double take.
The actor, who was last seen in police drama Stingers, is back on screen as Lauren Carpenter, who left the show in 1994. Lou’s daughter was originally played by Sarah Vandenbergh.
Kendall admits some viewers may have to adjust to Lauren’s new look.
“It’s a bit bizarre and a bit of a stretch of the imagination,” she says. “I did some research and she is a very down-to-earth character – she loves her horses.
“I was really excited about getting the job and I hadn’t done a long-running drama for a while – certainly not in this format, shooting six episodes a week.
“The difference in intensity is fantastic. It’s very challenging. It takes a good couple of months to get into the groove of it and find your niche. You do find yourself following your instincts a lot.”
Kendall has been working in theatre, including a stint last autumn in Sydney in An Officer And A Gentleman, but hungered for work with “a bit of a routine in it”. “I have a young son and knowing you will be home at nights, even though you do work when you get home, it was something that would fit into my life with the family and not being tired,” she says.
Neighbours returns for 2013 this week, but Kendall’s first appearance on the show won’t be until early next month. Lauren arrives back on Ramsay Street with her husband Matt Turner (Josef Brown) and their teenage children Mason ( Taylor Glockner), Amber (Jenna Rosenow) and Bailey ( Calen Mackenzie). Thanks to the wonders of soap, Kendall’s character has managed to conceive despite being diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease in her last incarnation, and being told she had a 10 per cent chance of having a family.
Her character is a far cry from the heartbreaker who left Ramsay Street, causing Brad Willis ( Scott Michaelson) and Beth Brennan ( Natalie Imbruglia) to call off their wedding.
Kendall says: “She’s a very maternal person with her kids. She is the hearth of the house. She has always had a pretty solid relationship with Matt, and a pretty good relationship with her dad.”
Kendall used her own family of four step- children and her own son as a template on which to build her character. “When I have played characters that have had children before – before I had my own kids biological or step-kids – it wasn’t the same as I didn’t have the experience to draw from,” she says.
Kendall, who is married to former Carlton AFL player Wayne Johnston, says her first day on set was strange. “The first scene was in Ramsay Street – that was weird. It is exactly how it looks on screen and it’s surreal. We had lots of fun.”
Kendall also knows the pressure is on to do a good job because of Neighbours’ loyal fan base. “People absolutely adore this show and will say: ‘That’s not right. She (the old Lauren) wouldn’t have done that’,” she says.
“But they have essentially created another new character, so we have just tried to go with that rather than make it fit in with someone else’s creation.”
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