Neighbours get first regular gay character

Australian soap Neighbours has introduced its first regular gay character to Ramsay Street. Although the storyline has lightly covered sexuality in the past – most recently with a lesbian kiss last year – the soap has never had a regular gay character in its 25 year history.

 

Australian soap Neighbours has introduced its first regular gay male character to Ramsay Street. In scenes shown in Australia earlier this month new arrivee Chris Pappas (James Mason) came out – UK fans of Neighbours will have to wait a little longer to see the storyline. The difference between UK and Australian broadcast of episodes is currently several weeks meaning UK fans won’t see the storyline until roughly September time.

 

While Neighbours has lightly touched upon sexuality before with “guest” gay characters and several lesbian kisses over the years the soap has never had a regular gay character in its 25 year history. This is partly because of its time slot in Australia which restricts the kinds of storylines it can cover and also because homosexuality in Australia is still relatively taboo in terms of coverage. A lesbian storyline feature on Home & Away last year was subjected to complaints though it is interesting to note that Neighbours also featured a lesbian kiss last year.

 

 

“The main reason this storyline came about was because of such high demand in the online forums. The producers were pretty keen on giving the viewers what they want, and they noticed there was a high demand for a gay character to come on the show. So they took the opportunity to bring one in. They’ve pretty much done everything else in 25 years, so it was definitely time” – Actor James Mason in gay publication Same Same

 

While Neighbours is currently in its 25th anniversary year – and will soon reach 6000 episodes – the soap is suffering from low ratings in Australia. The soap has attracted, for some episodes, less than half a million viewers. However, despite its poor performance in Australia its future is believed to be relatively secure because of its popularity internationally such as in the UK where it is shown on Channel Five.