Talking lez/bi representation in Erinsborough with the cast of Neighbours
BY KATIE MARGARET HALL
Ever since Anna Friel’s character, Beth, kissed Margaret on legendary British soap Brookside in 1994, we have looked to television serial dramas to provide the rarest of the rare: positive representation and visibility of LGBTQI characters in a mainstream setting. Something about the verisimilitude of soap operas, and their ability to intersect with a diverse spectrum of audiences, creates a perfect storm for normalising LGBTQI characters on TV.
UK soaps such as Corrie, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks have advanced representation by finally increasing both the quality and quantity of LGBTQI storylines. Executive producers have also gone some way towards casting out actors, with Luisa Bradshaw-White, Alicya Eyo and Riley Carter-Millington playing regular long-term characters. Storylines have also referenced major events in the LGBTQI calendar, such as Pride. Perhaps things have genuinely changed.
In 2004, iconic Australian daytime favourite Neighbours, which airs on Channel 5 in the UK to around one million viewers every weekday, began dipping its toe into the proverbial gay waters.
Beginning with a time-limited storyline, characters Lana Crawford and Sky Mangel (played by Bridget Neval and Jason Donovan’s half-sister Stephanie McIntosh) explored their sexuality and attraction to each other. Although Lana did come out, the character did not become a regular and once she left, the storyline – and LGBTQI representation – ended with her.
It wasn’t until 2010 that a gay character returned, as young Chris Pappas (James Mason) dealt with coming out. Subsequently, there has been at least one out LGBTQI character amongst the ensemble; currently there are four.
Find out what Neighbours stars April Rose Pengilly and Georgie Stone think about LGBTQI representation in the December 2019 issue of DIVA. On sale now at the links below…
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