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A New Family

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More diversity as Indian family joins Neighbours

The Kapoors

Long-running soap Neighbours will add a family with Indian and Sri Lankan heritage in one of the final moves by outgoing Producer Susan Bower.

The Kapoors are the first family to join the series since the Williams family arrived two years ago.

Local Councillor Ajay Kapoor (Sachin Joab) has been a regular guest since July, joined by wife Priya Kapoor (Menik Gooneratne) as principal of Erinsborough High in September.

In February their daughter Rani, played by newcomer Coco-Jacinta Cherin, will join them.

The ELEVEN soap has frequently been criticised for haveing too many Anglo-Saxon characters, but has previously had an Asian family before, if rather short-lived. Recently it added its first openly-gay male youth.

“I’m delighted by how the Kapoors have been introduced,” said Bower. “Viewers already know them because of their role in the community and link with other characters, and their cultural background is secondary.

“We have had many individual characters who have been representative of Australia’s diverse cultural landscape, however to have a family of Indian and Sri Lankan heritage join the neighbourhood, is very exciting.”

The Kapoors don’t get to live on Ramsay Street itself, appearing as part of the show’s extended Neighbours-hood, but it’s a positive step.

It's a shame about this though.

Race hate at Neighbours family

THE actor to play an Indian father on 'Neighbours' has hit out at fans who say it is "un-Australian" to cast him, saying they probably supported the "White Australia" policy.

Melbourne-born of Indian descent, Sachin Joab is part of the long-running TV soap's attempt to tackle perceptions the show is too white and doesn't represent modern Australia.

But yesterday Neighbours staff were forced to remove several racist posts from fans angry a non-Anglo-Saxon family would become show regulars, writing "that racism and small-mindedness won't be tolerated".

Joab blamed racism on a "lack of education".

"There is various pockets that will say it is un-Australian to have an Indian or an Indian family on Ramsay St," he said.

"Those Aussies who are saying it is un-Australian will be the same ones who pretty much supported the White Australia policy back in the day, you are never going to get away from that kind of stuff."

Joab said while most Australians were tolerant and respectful, he still faced bouts of racism.

"I faced (racism) myself, from the early years in primary school all the way up to recent times. Sometimes it's just blatant," he said.

"I think having a show that shows different families coming together can only be good for the community."

Neighbours executive producer Susan Bowers explained that the show wanted to represent a "more modern society".

Joab will be joined by Menik Gooneratne and Coco-Jacinta Cherian - together they will make up the Kapoor family.

"The ABC and SBS have always done it (cast multi-cultural Australians), and it was only 20 years ago you put Greeks and Italians on TV and people would question it," Ms Bowers said.

"We have been criticised heavily for being too white and you are damned if you do and if you don't, and we would much rather be criticised for moving (in this direction)."

Ms Bowers said most of the inappropriate comments came from a "small minority".

But one UK fan commented: "I would also like to point out, this same post was put up on Neighbours UK and so far there has been no racist comments. Think a lot could be learnt from us Brits!"

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Just been over to the Neighbours forum, it does seem a very small minority saying things and having their posts removed; really, after the first one and warning, they should be banned.

I think it's great that Neighbours is finally moving into the 21st century by representing our diverse society and as for these people who say it's un-Australian, I have to wonder where they live, because Australia is a multicultural country. We also have Chris, half-Greek and gay and though I wish they'd hurry up and give him a boyfriend (Aiden will be gone before they get anywhere at this rate), at least they've shown a willingness with this storyline by making him a regular - it's funny how people aren't up in arms like they were with Charlie and Joey, then again, HAA treated their relationship as different and publicised it as such (it was a controversial storyline) while Neighbours have treated Chris and his storyline (with exception of lack of dating) as every other character.

From what I've seen of Ajay and Priya, I think they'll be a great addition.

Also looking forward to Alin Sumarwata's arrival as Vanessa Villante.

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