Anne Charleston - Actor
Former ‘Neighbours’ star Anne Charleston found fame in her native Australia, but fell in love with the West of Ireland 20 years ago.
Best known for her portrayal of Madge Bishop in the Australian television drama ‘Neighbours’, Anne Charleston spent a total of ten years on the fictional Ramsay Street.
During her two stints on show, she played the fiery mother of Kylie Minogue’s character, Charlene, and later the wife of Harold Bishop.
Anne moved to Galway in 1992 after her first six-year stint on ‘Neighbours’ ended as she had, quite simply, fallen “in love with the West”.
She explains, however, that things then went a little “pear-shaped”, necessitating a move back Down Under in 1997, when she reprised her role as Madge
But, to her disappointment, she found on her return to Ramsay Street that Madge had been re-written as “a victim” and she ultimately decided to leave the show as a result.
“I preferred her the way I built that character up. She was strong but she wasn’t a b***h and neither was she a victim. She was just very strong. She had quite a heart. She was quite funny. There was a lot going for her,” she adds.
Despite her disappointment at her character’s fate, after two successful periods on ‘Neighbours’ Anne was famous enough on this side of the globe that she could return to her cottage near the Mayo border and secure work both here and in the UK.
She admits however that the success of Australian shows like ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Home and Away’ in Ireland and the UK is as much of a mystery to her as anyone else.
“If I knew the formula, I’d be a very rich producer, not a mere actor,” she laughs.
As well as starring roles in UK dramas like ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Crossroads’, Anne has also starred in John B. Keane’s ‘The Matchmaker’ alongside the late, great Mick Lally, who she fondly remembers as “lovely Mick”.
“I think John B. Keane is a bit of a genius, really. It was lovely working with Mick. I did it on and off four nearly four years,” she recalls.
Anne is treading the boards again this autumn, in a new production of Robert Harling’s ‘Steel Magnolias’, which is currently touring across the country. She is not the only star draw, either, with Mischa Barton of ‘The OC’ fame also part of the six-woman cast.
“The play is a wonderful piece. It’s full of laughs, it’s full of drama and the two juxtaposed work really well. And there are these six fabulous women, wonderful characters, in it, who are the Steel Magnolias of the title, and it’s a great piece to do,” she says.
All six cast members get along famously, she says, and having two celebrities in the cast did not disrupt the dynamic in any way.
“I feel I’m incredibly lucky to be working with people like Barbara Brennan, Gillian Hanna, a wonderful girl, Natalie Radmall-Quirke, who’s playing Annelle and Karen Ardiff, who’s playing Truvy. They’re all incredibly good, experienced actors, so there’s absolutely no alteration in the dynamic.”
After the tour ends, Anne will jet off to Australia to visit her family, before returning to the UK for the panto season, which will take her through until mid-January.
The veteran actor clearly has a strong work ethic. For instance, when she had a serious operation to remove cancerous tissue 30 years ago, she was back on stage within nine days.
“Work is important to me. I enjoy it and there’s also the economic side of it – I need to work. And I think it’s very good, because it’s certainly very distracting if things aren’t going the way they should, you go to work and you forget about it.”
Steel Magnolias runs at the Black Box Theatre from Thursday 11 October until Saturday 13 October. For bookings, call 091-569777 or visit www.tht.ie.