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Played: Harold Bishop
Appeared: 1987-1991, 1996-2008, 2008-2009
Born June 19th 1938, Ian Smith was brought up in a Catholic family in Williamstown, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. His early life was not happy as he didn't enjoy the strict Catholic school he was sent to, had few friends and struggled with most subjects; especially sport. However he did enjoy creative fields such as writing and the school choir which led him into his local Gilbert and Sullivan society. After school, Ian's mother got him a job in a clothing warehouse but Smith was inspired by Hollywood stars like James Mason and Dirk Bogarde to pursue a career in acting. At 18 he auditioned for the Australian National Theatre.
In 1967 Ian won his first television role after a stint of theatre work, when he got the role of Russell Ashwood in Australia's first soap opera Bellbird. Smith was axed from the series in 1976 during a revamp which failed to work and the programme itself ended the following year. While working on Bellbird in the early '70s, Smith had also taken guest parts in series such as Homicide, Matlock Police and Division 4. In 1979 Ian became Script Editor on a new series, Prisoner which went on to become a huge hit around the world. Smith also played the character Ted Douglas in several episodes and later became Associate Producer.
As Prisoner came to a close, it's producer Reg Grundy offered Ian the chance to write on his new soap opera Neighbours. In 1987 Smith took on the guest role of Madge's friend Harold Bishop. He continued to write episodes but was careful not to write for episodes featuring his character. Harold became so popular that he was extended to a regular role and remained on the show until 1991 when he was axed with a mysterious apparent death at the hands of the sea.
After Neighbours, Ian took acting roles in the film Body Melt and the series Blue Heelers, however his private life was in turmoil as his mother Connie told him at the age of 54 that he had been adopted. Smith suffered a mental breakdown but later tracked down his biological mother Peg Kline who told him he had been conceived when she was 13 as the result of a rape.
In 1996, Ian was asked to return to Neighbours with co-star Anne Charleston. There he remained a constant favourite until in late 2007 he decided it was time to semi-retire. Harold left Ramsay Street to tour the country in a campervan and waved goodbye on Australian screens in April 2008. He returned for a few weeks later in the year, then again for three months, which he announced would be the final time he returned. Harold's final months saw him battle prostate cancer and a heart attack, before saying a last goodbye to everyone and heading up north. Ian intended to follow Harold's lead and become a 'grey nomad', touring Australia with his wife. As a final tribute and a goodbye from Neighbours fans, Ian found himself nominated for the Gold Logie, for the first time in his career.
Back For Good
Harold Back From The Dead!
In My Dressing Room
Profile by David