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Producers on the iconic Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’ have had to scramble this week to rewrite and film several episodes that have been scrapped from the upcoming 36th season.
Late last year it was revealed that the writers for Neighbours had opted against centring this year’s plot lines around the extremely rare neurological condition known as amnesia for the 16th time since the programme began broadcasting in 1985.
Instead, producers made the bold decision to finally address the scourge of white supremacy in the upper middle class suburbs of Melbourne.
The 2021 season was initially meant to follow the long-running character of Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi’s descent in far-right nationalism.
The opening episodes were expected to show Toadie being sent to prison for fraud after swindling money from the late Harold Bishop’s will – in his role as the suburb’s most respected conveyancing lawyer.
In the clink, Toadfish finds himself immediately reprimanded by the screws after being caught up in a melee with an Aboriginal inmate over nicotine patches.
After being moved in to the high-security wing of Ravenhall Gaol, Toadfish becomes a sitting target for the Lebanese and Samoan inmates – after the prison population becomes aware that he was incarcerated for ripping off harmless pensioners.
The politics of this highly racial exercise yard environment sees Toadie drift towards the prison’s white power gangs for protection, where he begins entertaining some of their bigoted political ideologies.
Upon release, Toadfish returns to Erinborough, where he begins recruiting for the suburb’s first skinhead gang.
This plot line was due to provide the set-up for the remainder of the 2021 season’s dramatic twists.
However, after some bad PR yesterday, it seems Neighbours can no longer go ahead with this controversial character arc.
This comes as several Aboriginal actors have detailed allegations of racism while working for the soap hit Neighbours.
One Indigenous actor said she was confronted with “overt and covert levels of racism were rife” during her months working for Neighbours.
She said that included a white actor calling another actor of colour a “lil’ monkey” and instances where the “n-word” was openly used.
These experiences were backed up by another black actor, who experienced similarly casual racism on-set, from crew members who sound like the type of people who honestly think Adam Goodes was only booed because of the way he played football.
It is believed ‘Neighbours’ producer will scrap the ‘Skinhead Toadie’ character arc this season, and instead focus on a plot line based around some sort of pandemic – or maybe amnesia again.
In true Australian TV fashion, nothing has come from the accusations of on-set racism, except for the fact that the complainants are now facing a wave of even more vitriolic abuse online.
MORE TO COME.