Fremantle Media Australia’s cul-de-sac soap opera is at the centre of racist claims.
ITV News report that two Aboriginal-Australian actors have alleged they witnessed racism while working on Reg Watson’s Australian hit daily serial Neighbours.
Shareena Clanton and Meyne Wyatt have both used social media to highlight that, they state, their time at the Melbourne based show was far from a happy time. The performers, who are Australian and of indigenous descent, said they witnessed other cast members using racist terms at the studios.
The programme launched in 1985 in Australia when Reg Watson decided a serial set around several families on a cul-de-sac could be a ratings hit. The show initially aired on the Seven Network before switching to Network 10. In the UK Neighbours has aired on BBC One, but has spent the last 13-years on Channel 5.
Neighbours has been a ratings hit since 1985 in Australia and joined BBC One’s line up in 1986.
“Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen. Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process.
“Shareena’s involvement in the creative process and onset was invaluable and hugely educational and will benefit the series moving forward.
“There have been significant and lengthy discussions with Shareena during her time on Neighbours and we will continue to work with all cast and crew to ensure Neighbours continues to be a fully inclusive environment.” – Channel 5 statement
Clanton has an upcoming guest role as Sheila Canning in Neighbours while Wyatt was a regular as Nate Kinski for three years from 2014.
On Instagram, Clanton noted she had been “navigating ongoing counselling” after working at the Global Television studios of the soap, adding it had been “lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space.”
Reg Watson devised Neighbours as an ‘Australian Coronation Street’
ITV News noted that ‘Clanton said for legal reasons she was not naming any of the actors she accused of racism, but alleged: ‘Twice I endured the ‘N’-word openly.” Wyatt, also alleged homophobia had been rampant on set while noting on Twitter his abuse had ‘involved the C word and I called it out and it didn’t happen around me again. Though I did walk in on this incident? so I have no doubt things were being said behind my back.’
Reg Watson, who died in 2019 aged 95, also created other Aussie serial hits including Sons and Daughters, The Young Doctors and Prisoner: Cell Block H.
During Reg’s time with Crossroads, as its founding producer from 1964-74, he actively sought performers from various backgrounds including in 1965 friend of Sandy (Roger Tonge) Daphne Foreman as Kate, boyfriend of Marilyn (Sue Nicholls) Salmaan Peer as Jamil and Cleo Sylvestre in 1969 as Meg’s (Noele Gordon) adopted daughter Melanie Harper, while the show brought in soap opera’s first black family in 1974 with the Jamaica-born James family that included actress Elizabeth Adare and later Carl Andrews as Joe McDonald and Merdelle Jordine as Trina Jameson.