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Hit & Run: Home and Away at home in LA

Guest devon

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Hit & Run: Home and Away at home in LA

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Long gone are the days when appearing on rival Australian tea-time soaps Neighbours and Home and Away was a passport to a panto engagement in Bournemouth or Hull. These days Aussie soap veterans bypass Christmas in the British provinces and head straight for Los Angeles. In fact it seems you can't watch a high-end US TV drama without coming face to face with a former Erinsborough or Summer Bay favourite – most recently in HBO's vampire saga True Blood. This has Ryan Kwanten – formerly Vinnie Patterson in Home and Away – as Sookie's priapic younger brother Jason, and when in 2003 Kawatan got himself an American agent he was simply following a path trod by Neighbours/Home and Away alumni Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Naomi Watts, Isla Fisher and the late Heath Ledger.

But who would have predicted Julian McMahon being reborn as the oleaginous Dr Christian Troy in Nip/Tick? Or Alan Dale, dear, doughty old Jim Robinson in Neighbours, reinventing himself in such American TV classics as ER, The OC, 24, Ugly Betty and Lost? I could (and will) go on: Jesse Spencer has, with some symmetry, graduated from Neighbours to House, Holly Valance (after a brief sub-Kylie pop career) has broken into in Prison Break, and Melissa George has graced Grey's Anatomy and given a very mature performance opposite Gabriel Byrne in the Emmy-nominated psychodrama In Treatment. Emily Symons – Summer Bay's big-hearted Marilyn – must now be kicking herself that she chose a future pulling pints in Emmerdale. And is Jason Donovan regretting all those West End musicals?

The big question is why ex-soapies from the Antipodes are in such demand Stateside. Sure, they're pretty cute looking; lord, aren't they fresh and wholesome compared to the half-starved, surgically enhanced local "talent". And as we are often told about the British actors currently crowding US TV, they bring a training and work ethic so absent from indigenous wannabes more interested in enlarging their body parts than extending their range.

But then maybe it's just that if you have acting ambitions and you are Australian, you are almost certain to have appeared in either Neighbours or Home and Away (or both, if you are Guy Pearce). And of course Australians are great travellers – it's almost obligatory to leave the country in your twenties, just the age that Hollywood wants you. As for the oldies, it's only a shame that Ian Smith, Neighbours' very own resurrection case, Harold Bishop, never made it on to 24. Maybe Alan Dale could have a word. Gerard Gilbert

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