In his first on-going television role, Erin Mullally, 20, will replace James Sorensen as the Neighbours character Declan Napier the Five network confirmed today.
Erin Mullally, who has just joined the cast in production at the Fremantle studios in Australia, will be on screens as Declan in the UK from this summer. James Sorensen, who finishes filming in the next few weeks, has decided to pursue interests outside of television so will not be renewing his contract.
“As the character of Declan is extremely popular, and with some sensational storylines planned, it was decided that the character would be recast” A Five press office statement said.
Speculation on James Sorensen’s furture at the long running cul-de-sac set soap was first reported by Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper which said the actor had quit the series after three successful years. James also has proved to be hugely popular with fans for his acting ability and good-looks. It isn’t the first time the show has replaced high profile leads, nor is it unique in Australian serials. In Home and Away numerous cast changes have taken place practically over night, famously down at Summer Bay lead character Pippa had a transformation between episodes.
Creator of Neighbours - Reg Watson, OMA, discussed replacing the actors, while retaining the characters, with popular fansite ‘Perfect Blend‘ in 2005.
He commented “I always believed it was a pity, when actors chose to leave a serial that the character should go as well. A lot of time and money is invested in the character so we decided to recast if the character was important to the future of the storyline and the show itself.”
And added “All the long term characters are important. It’s a pity when the actors leave but careful planning by the writers can always fill that void.”
A policy Reg used over four decades of soap production, which is clearly still in use at Neighbours to this day. However the news hasn’t gone down well with some fans of the daily soap, who believe the character should leave with the actor.
It isn’t just ‘down under’ where soaps are prone to quick re-casting. In the UK Crossroads, under Reg Watson, OMA, controversially replaced the actress behind the character of Marilyn Hope – played by current Coronation Street actress Sue Nicholls. The blonde, tall, loud, broad Birmingham accented Marilyn went to bed in one episode and the next came downstairs as a short, brown-haired, quiet, reserved, posh spoken lady. This change was brought about when Sue decided to quit to launch a pop career – the original Kylie!
Further Reading at Neighbours: The Perfect Blend