> Wendy Stapleton
Stapleton is probably better known in Australia for
her long standing music career. To Neighbours
fans, love her or hate her, she's the Cabaret singing, Trixie
Tucker! Wendy has had many other connections with the
show over the years, from singing background tracks
to the famous theme song. Wendy kindly took some time
out to chat with us about her involvement with the series
over the years...
you give us a little background on your career before
I trained as a youngster as a classical Ballet, Tap,
Acting and Singing, my first professional appearance
was at the age of nine at Her Majestyís Theatre in Noel
Coward's Sail Away. Then I performed regularly
with J.C.Williamsonís for many years combining this
with weekly performances on G.T.V.9ís Taraz show.
At 16 I became a professional vocalist and I performed
with the best of Australian Talent among them were John
Farnham, Glen Shorrock Jon English, Joe Camillieri.
In 1979 I signed with Mushroom Records and formed Wendy
and the Rocketts, touring Australia and overseas with
acts like Brian Adams, Z.Z.Top and Hall and Oats. I've
also appeared in several episodes of Blue Heelers,
Halifax F.P and Terence O'Connellís short movie
You Donít Have To Say You Love Me.
did you get the part on the show as Trixie?
Jan Russ (who is one of the most gorgeous people you
could meet) rang me and asked me to do a screen test.
I was absolutely convinced I hadn't done a very good
test and was obviously gob smacked when she rang and
said I had been chosen to be Trixie Tucker. Gary Conway,
head director was also instrumental in the decision
and he was great to me on the set. Being mainly known
as a singer and having spent most of my life in front
of a band, Gary took the time to explain the ropes of
filming five episodes a week, quite a change from spending
three days to do a three minute film clip.
you have any input on the character?
Well in all honesty I think Trixie's fate was well and
truly sealed before I hit the set, however things that
happen day to day in real life have an impact on what
happens in the studio and nobody could have been prepared
for Delta's illness. Of course I had to decide how I
would play Trixie, but the guidelines were there from
the start. I hope I portrayed her as a warm and fun
person, although not always on the same planet as everyone
else in Erinsborough. Trixie's life had revolved around
the theatre and I don't think she ever got her head
out of that space, everything is a show right down to
cooking a meal or vacumming the toaster! I hope she
was perceived as being basically kind and generous,
a little SCATTY maybe? At the end of the day her heart
is in the right place.
your time with Delta was short, what was it like working
with her and playing her on-screen mother?
with Delta was great. I found her to be a very natural
and personable young girl who is really just the same
as most teenagers in her hopes and wishes for her future.
Of course there is the fact that she is on every magazine
cover and radio station and T.V. so this probably makes
it quite difficult to be "the girl next door". Playing
Delta's mum was great fun because my own daughter thought
I was cool, actually that is the only question I ever
get asked by her friends "excuse me Wendy, what's Delta
like?" She is delightful.
the sudden departure of Delta how much of the original
storyline was changed?
Delta has just announced that she would like to return
to the show later in the year to give Nina a stylish exit,
will we be also seeing a return from Trixie as well?
Yes, Delta's departure was sudden as you can imagine.
Nobody was prepared for this shock, however I'm sure
things happen to everybody at some stage that they are
not prepared for, and so we all do our best to carry
on. The scriptwriters must have gone into overdrive
and therefore I simply did what was required of me from
then on. I don't know how much it altered my original
storyline as I was only a few weeks ahead at any stage.
I'm sure we would have spent a few months having fun
together before my destiny unfolded.
I have read that Delta is keen to return to the show to
as you put it "give Nina a stylish exit " and I would
love to come back for this. I guess we will have to wait
and see. At the moment good ol' Trixie is probably still
wandering around the streets of Hong Kong looking for
you tell us a little about the filming of Trixie and
Trixie's wedding to Lou was quite and extravaganza as
you could see. It was filmed at Her Majesties Theatre
in Melbourne, which was fantastic for me because it
was where I appeared in my very first musical aged nine
in Noel Cowards' "Sail Away". Almost all the cast were
there, and there were just an amazing amount of people
involved in this shoot. I think there were something
like three or four crews working that day; starting
at 5.30 a.m. and finishing at around 11.00p.m. That's
a long time being a bride! Anyway it was great fun and
I hope everyone enjoyed the episode.
many years Lou was finally given a new lease of life
with Trixie coming along. Did you think it was right
to have them split up after such a short time?
you kept in touch with any of the cast?
I think Trixie has been great for Lou. He has had a
lot of fun doing things he hadn't done for a long time
and I think that has made people very happy for him.
He has had a new lease on life, although Trixie could
wear him out at times. It is incredibly sad that they
split up so soon, but how do we know what's around the
corner? I'm sure Trixie loves Lou and we all know that
he loves her very much.
Christmas I caught up by phone with Tom's wife to organise
a get together and I did catch up with Jackie (Susan Kennedy)
on holiday at Christmas. The show that I am in with Debra
Byrne and Nikki Nichols (Girls Girls Girls) keeps me very
busy and away from Melbourne an awful lot and of course
club work involves working weekends including Sundays,
so to say that catching up with friends is difficult is
an understatement. I will definately make a visit to the
set soon to say hello to everyone. I have formed a club
with my good musician friends and people from the Variety
Club Australia where we get together the first Tuesday
of every month for lunch to catch up on the entertainment
industry whats what etc; and this year we have sponsored
a young girl aged 13 to be taken under our wing and be
given tuition in all forms of entertainment for one year.
This award will be an annual event from now on at the
Yearly Variety Ball.
Way before your time on the show as Trixie you had a
few other connections with the series, one of those
was singing the 1999 - 2001 Neighbours theme
with your husband, Paul Norton. Can you tell us how
this came about?
involvement with Neighbours goes back to almost
the beginning in some way or another. As a young session
singer I was hired to sing vocals on the Neighbours
Christmas albums and as you already know I have been
involved in the theme song which came about as a result
of Chris Pettifer (Music Director) being involved in
the same industry as my husband and myself . My husband
(Paul Norton) songs recorded with Mushroom Records
were used frequently for three or four years on Neighbours
and Chris Pettifer was directly responsible for the
music catalogue. Paul also was involved in audio (Boom
Operator) when Kylie and Jason were on the show so there
seems to be a thread of involvement for a long time
you record more than one version of the theme?
have performed on two versions of the Neighbours
theme, firstly with Greg Hind doing his backing Vocals
and of course the theme that Paul and I sang together.
The first version was recorded at AAV Australia in South
Melbourne and the second version at Chris's studio.
The Christmas album was recorded at David Brigg's studio
in Melbourne. David Briggs was the guitarist in The
Little River Band and I also sang on Stefan Dennis's
Album also recorded at AAV AUST. I can remember doing
some stuff with Craig McLaughlan at AAV and I think
the Neighbours cast disco version of the theme
song was also recorded at AAV. A lot of this info is
taking me back quite a few years I can tell you. I do
remember having a lot of fun recording the disco version
with the cast.
Interview by Karl. Added on 17th April 2004
To read a full character biography of Trixie Tucker, click here
Mid 1992 - 1994 Opening Theme (512K)
Mid 1992 - 1998 Closing Theme (1380K)
1999 - 2001 Opening Theme (462K)
1999 - 2001 Closing Theme (1450K)
BBC 1999 - 2001 Closing Theme (718K)