Former actor Colette Mann says she’s heartbroken for the cast and staff of one of Australia’s most popular operas, Neighbours, but she’s looking forward to the future.
Colette, whose beloved character went off-air around the same time the cancellation was made public, laughs, “I like to imagine it couldn’t go on without Sheila Canning, but I don’t entirely think that is the case.”
Colette claims that producers informed the Neighbours team of a probable cancellation in June 2021, months before the recent reports.
“I’ve been in the business for 50 years – I know I only appear to be 35, but I’m a realist.” “I knew it was going to end when they told us that last year,” adds the actress, who confesses the news “wasn’t a tremendous shock.”
Colette is possibly the greatest person to reveal what really spelled the end of the series, with a career spanning five decades that includes acting, theatre, and producing work.
“The show has been running for 37 years. I believe it will stop because Channel 5, which has been a huge backer of the show, has decided to spend its money on UK programming. We can’t complain about that as Australians… “We’re always promoting original content,” she explains.
“They provided the majority of the funding, so when they pulled out, the show was unable to continue.” It’s been drastically reduced in recent years, and it wouldn’t be possible to make it with what’s left. Nobody wants to see the show go off the air like that, so it’s definitely the best outcome,” she says.
While Colette’s character, Sheila, is obviously different, she admits there is some commonality.
“I told Colette when I moved into her house in Richmond, ‘You’ll be bringing me out in a box,'” she laughs. “I never wanted to relocate, and I believe Sheila felt the same way.”
“They didn’t want to murder me, and I didn’t want to get in the taxi and leave Ramsay Street… I just kind of vanished! She says, “That was the greatest way for me to go.”
The current condition of Australian television unmistakably favours reality programming, and Colette says it’s fascinating to observe the shift in viewer preferences since she began her career in the 1970s.
However, Home and Away, Neighbours’ soap ‘rival,’ has long maintained a robust fan base and ratings — something Colette believes “makes sense.”
“It’s because it’s on the main station!” Colette continues, pointing out that Neighbours has long been broadcast on Network Ten’s sister networks.
“They’re also broadcast at prime time!” Look, the shows are both unique and excellent in their own right. She offers, “Home and Away is on later, I imagine they could do more, have guns and blood…”
“They both had their place,” says the narrator. I’m glad Home And Away is still on the air; it’s now the only location on television where you can work full-time as an actor.”
Colette, who has always been a supporter of younger actors, said she would miss teaching the show’s up-and-comers. One aspect of the set, though, she will not miss.
“I’m going to come across as a grouchy old lady, but the difference between working back then and now is phones!” The insane number of selfies taken on set, the scrolling… there’s no room for it,” she says, admitting that it’s easy to recognise who’s been through her mentorship programme because they’ll never be seen on set with a phone.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just the kids,” she explains.
Colette believes her next chapter will be bright; she is presently on the lookout for dynamic roles and aspires to land a character she has never played before.
Doreen Anderson’s part on Prisoner is one the actress will never forget. Colette’s performance of the callow convict opposite Val Lehman and Sheila Florance made him renowned.
While Doreen was beloved by fans, Colette admits that her favourite experience on set was a brief three-month return after a three-year absence.
“When I returned, I wasn’t involved in politics,” she says. “Prisoner, like any other drama, became quite political… And there were fights, and it was a difficult three years,” she admits, adding that she is glad for the opportunity to be a part of the hit show.
Colette says she’s looking forward to focusing on her health as well as writing another book and enrolling in a screenwriting course.
“I’m roughly 20kg lighter than I was 10 years ago when I first came to Neighbours.” I was going through a hard stretch when I first appeared on the show… “I guess I’m an emotional eater,” she jokes about a marriage collapse. “By the time my first episodes aired, all I could think was, ‘I have to do something about this,'” she says.
Colette claims she fell in love with yoga, Pilates, and walking over a “slow and progressive” period of time.
“When COVID-19 first came out, I downloaded an app – didn’t we all? – and began doing daily yoga, which I have done for over 500 days,” she continues.
“I only do 45 minutes every day, but I do it every day.” “I would do it before set or during a break even when I was on set,” she continues, revealing that she walks roughly six to seven kilometres every day.
“I’ve shed a lot of weight in the previous six months,” she says, adding that she stopped drinking alcohol eight years ago, “which undoubtedly helped.”
While many people are hesitant to reveal their beauty secrets, Colette says she’s always taken care of her skin, never smoked, and places a high importance on self-care. She also says she has no problems about sharing her weight fluctuations in public because “everyone is fascinated.”