Main Pages

Actors & Crew
Year by Year
Magic Moments

Message Board

Interviews > Charmaine Gorman

If you thought the streets of Erinsborough were packed full of kids these days with Callum, Sophie, Charlie and India all scurrying around Ramsay Street causing mischief, things weren't all that different in the early days of Neighbours. Along with original character Lucy Robinson, the cul-de-sac became home to another little girl in 1986 when Vicki Gibbons moved into No.22 with her parents. Actress Charmaine Gorman was just six years of age when she first appeared on Neighbours in the role of Josie Brown, and the show has also featured her sister Kate in the recurring role of Sue Parker, mother Judith Roberts as librarian Frances and father Reg as Lou Carpenter's mate Jock. Charmaine now lives overseas but remains fond of her various Ramsay Street experiences...

Looking back at your time on Neighbours now, what are your memories of that period of your life?
Well, considering that that was 23 years ago now, primary school was pretty fun. My life then consisted of school, my family, singing, dancing and watching old movie musicals with Dad.

Coming from a family of actors, was acting something you always wanted to do from an early age?
Seeing Mum and Dad on stage and on the TV certainly instilled in me the thought that if they do it, I can do it. But it wasn't until I was about 11 when I got my first job in a musical touring Australia (which mum and my sister Kate were also in) that I knew I actually wanted to do this all the time.

What was your acting experience, if any, before Neighbours?
Before the Vicki Gibbons role on Neighbours I had mainly sang and danced with my family in a Vaudeville/variety style act we had put together called The 5 Gormans. I had done one commercial and believe it or not, a small non speaking role when I was 6 on 'Neighbours' when it was still on Channel 7. I don't remember much about that except that the character of 'Scott', as in the original Scott before Jason Donovan, saved me from being hit by a car. Riveting stuff for a 6 year old.

How did the role of Vicki Gibbons come about?
Honestly, I don't remember. 'Extended family needed for Clive Gibbons story line' was probably heading a memo for the Neighbours writing team.

How would you describe Vicki?
I remember the character being quite feisty, there was a brawl with Lucy Robinson after all, but then she also was so scared after, shall we say, 'the incident' that she completely shut everyone else out.

Who did you enjoy working with on Neighbours at that time?
I was pretty excited to be working with 'Kylie and Jason' actually. And I shared a cab with Stefan Dennis (Paul) once...woohoo!

But mainly it was all about Geoff Paine (Clive) for me. He was my first crush.

Your sister Kate mentioned in her interview with Perfect Blend that she can recall sharing cabs to the studios etc with you but you never appeared on screen together. What are your memories of Kate's stint as Sue Parker around the same time you appeared as Vicki?
I knew Kate was playing the bitch at the high school and remember watching her on the TV. She has always been an inspiration to me and when I was that little, to be going to work with her was amazing. But I didn't love that she was the character that people loved to hate. However, she did get her own collectable Neighbours card with a stick of chewing gum... and that was pretty rad to me!

Can you remember much about the storylines Vicki was involved in, most noticeably the threats made to her by Alex Carter?
Hmmmmm... Clive's family comes to stay.

Vicki makes friends with Lucy... they make a wheelbarrow horse together. They fight over wheelbarrow horse, Vicki cracks it and goes inside Clive's house. Vicki walks in on bad man with moustache robbing Clive!

...Something about valuable stamps?

Bad man with moustache threatens Vicki that he'll come back and kill everyone if she tells. She goes into shock and doesn't speak to anyone for days. Clive (her favourite Uncle eva) gets her to open up through communication with hand puppets and funny voices. Bad man with moustache is caught. Vicki and Lucy make up and promise to stay friends. Clive's family moves on...

...I can't remember what happened to the stamps though.

After finishing your stint as Vicki, what did you get up to in the ten years before you next appeared on Neighbours?
In between acting jobs I was at school and in between school I was in acting jobs. I was very lucky to get quite a lot of work throughout my teenage years in TV and theatre. I left my high school at 16 and did year 11 by correspondence as I was touring Australia with the musical High Society and then went back to school to finish year 12.

How did you come to return to the show, albeit as a different character, in the mid 1990s?
Auditioning for Jan Russ. Many actors on Neighbours have returned a few times over many years as different characters. And when you fit what they're looking for I guess they don't mind a little repeat employment. And I'm figuring I was a whole lot different 11 years later... one would hope.

What do you remember of Rebecca Knotts?
As this was only about 14 years ago it is much fresher in my mind and I've seen the footage more which makes it easier to recall:
Country(ish) chick, just visiting, meets and likes the look of Toadie but is worried she's not old enough for him so she lies about her age (unbeknownst to her, Toadie has done the same). They hang out. Lots of jokes about if they got married the name would be Rebecca Rebecchi. It's Toadie's first kiss, I think.

After a while Toadie can't handle the pressure of lying any more but Lance puts his foot in his mouth before Toadie can explain to Rebecca himself. But it's all ok, Rebecca isn't mad, she's relieved because she'd been lying too, so they make up. However rather quickly the next day or so Rebecca says she has to go back to ....Geelong(?), but they knew it wasn't a serious thing so they said they'd keep in touch.

Did you notice many differences on the series since you had last appeared?
When I was 8 it was all fun with the wheelbarrow horse, Lucy, hand puppets etc. The second time felt more like work, which was nice. Still a hell of a lot of fun however as I was older and could hang out with all the young cast at that time.

The cast had changed quite considerably - presumably the late Anne Haddy was the only cast member still there by that stage?
I believe so; I don't think Stefan Dennis had returned yet.

Which cast members did you enjoy working with during your second stint?
Ryan Moloney (Toadie) is a good guy. Funny! And in the couple of years after that I saw him a couple of times out and about and at a charity concert. But I think Andrew Bibby (Lance) was my favourite.

What have you been up to since your time on the show?
Working as an actress in theatre and film. For 8 years I also worked in the wardrobe departments on theatre and film after completing a 2 year Advanced Certificate in designer dressmaking at Tafe, but gave that up about 6 years ago as it wasn't really what I wanted to be doing. Not so much TV on my CV since then, couple of commercials and bits and pieces. Now my husband and I are living in Germany and I'm about to start work for an English theatre company touring English plays for German school students.

Tell us a bit about Gorman Works, the production company you set up with Kate?
We first started the company to produce our own works. We wanted to put on a play but there was nothing out there that was right at the time. So I wrote one. Kate and I are both writers and have produced our own productions for the Melbourne Fringe and Comedy festivals. Kate has written and directed a feature film and is currently in production on her documentary. Gorman Works is an outlet for us and our family to produce works that we may not necessarily get the chance to do when being employed by others. It keeps us in some kind of work, even if it doesn't make money because when you have to be active in this industry to survive, sometimes you have to make your own work.

Do you still keep in contact with any of your former Neighbours colleagues?
The lovely Kylie Flinker, the original Lucy Robinson of wheelbarrow horse fame, contacted me on Facebook last year, which was wonderful. We had caught up a few times in the couple of years after my first appearance but that was just so long ago now. We didn't manage to meet as I left the country not long after I hit the 'accept' button but it was great to get in contact again. And the last time I saw Geoff Paine was at my hen's night a few years ago. He was my first crush after all so my sister brought him back into my life for laughs. It was brilliant.

Would you ever consider making a fourth appearance on the show?
Absolutely. Work is work. And if they don't mind another repeat, I certainly don't.

As Neighbours celebrates 25 years on TV, having also celebrated its 6000th episode, what do you think accounts for the show's success?
I think the audience likes to relate to what they see as real characters having real problems. And I think it's addictive. I watched right up until I left the country.

Interview by Mark. Added on 30 October 2010