It may be Australia’s longest-running TV drama, but Neighbours certainly hasn’t been short of off-screen scandals since it began airing 36 years ago.
The soap has been plagued with controversies over the decades – even as recently as last week after indigenous guest actress Shareena Clanton sensationally claimed a racist culture was running ‘rife’ on set.
From lawsuits to drug abuse scandals, here are some of the biggest shocks to rock Neighbours away from Ramsay Street:
Scott McGregor’s strip club scandal
Strip club scandal: Scott McGregor hit headlines in October 2019 after exotic dancer Danielle ‘Ivy’ Lee was found guilty of hurling a glass at his face at a Gold Coast nightclub in April
Scott McGregor joined the cast of Neighbours as Detective Mark Brennan in 2010, before leaving the show in 2019.
In the same year of his departure, Scott’s name hit headlines in October after exotic dancer Danielle ‘Ivy’ Lee was found guilty of hurling a glass at his face at a Gold Coast nightclub in April.
The incident at the Hollywood Showgirls club caused a small cut, which needed three stitches.
Ms Lee had claimed Scott had verbally abused her after she approached him in the club.
She claims he told her he was there for a night out with friends before telling her to ‘f*** off’.
‘He said: “F*** off you dirty s**t. You are a piece of s**t. I would never take someone as dirty as you”,’ she told the court.
Guilty: Magistrate Mark Howden said Lee’s reaction was ‘disproportionate’ to the offence and found her guilty, before releasing her on a $1000 good behaviour bond
Well-known: Scott McGregor joined the cast of Neighbours as Detective Mark Brennan in 2010, before leaving the show in 2019
‘He said: “I am better than that. I am better than you. F*** off”.’
The first day of the two-day trial was held in August 2019, when the Melbourne-based actor denied verbally abusing Lee and insisted she was the aggressor in the exchange.
In October, Magistrate Mark Howden found McGregor’s evidence to be evasive, and that he had verbally insulted Lee.
But Mr Howden said Lee’s reaction was ‘disproportionate’ to the offence and found her guilty, before releasing her on a $1000 good behaviour bond.
No conviction was recorded and she was ordered to pay $80 for McGregor’s medical costs.
Nicola Charles’ shock allegations
Fame: Nicola Charles appeared on the series from 1995 to 2016, playing Sarah Beaumont – who infamously had a brief affair with Karl Kennedy
Nicola Charles appeared on the series from 1995 to 2016, playing Sarah Beaumont – who infamously had a brief affair with Karl Kennedy.
But years after her last appearance on the show, Nicola, now 51, made a string of allegations about what she claims went on behind-the-scenes.
In an interview with the Herald Sun, the actress-turned-author revealed a producer on the show once offered to pay for her to get a boob job.
She also confessed the same producer also encouraged her to leak naked photos.
‘I was patted on the knee in a very condescending way and told you can always leak photos of yourself after you wrap with the show to boost your image,’ she said.
‘It’s from days of old that one, naked photos leaked online. This is the same Neighbours’ producer who said to me, “Would you like me to buy you a set of t*ts?”
‘I said no thank you, I plan on breastfeeding. He said, “It’s fine, I’ve done it for all the other girls,” and I said, “Really, I’m okay, thank you”.’
Change: Nicola said this all took place during the late ’90s, and described it as being ‘different times’. Pictured with her co-star Alan Fletcher, who played Dr Karl
Nicola said the harassment took place during the late ’90s, and described it as being ‘different times’.
She recounted having her name called out while sitting in the green room one day, and said she was terrified she was in trouble.
‘But it was just the general stuff, offering a set of boobs, telling me to behave, what to wear,’ she added.
While she refused to name the producer, explaining he’s since died, Nicola said he would use money as an incentive for her to do certain things.
‘He would say some pretty out there stuff to me about how I looked, my body, the things I said, the direction my career could take, dangle things like money in front of me and say this is how much you could earn,’ she said.
Nicola said the culture of the show appears to have since changed for the better, and praised the series for including minority and gay storylines.
Kym Valentine’s lawsuit
Law suit: In 2013, Neighbours actress Kym Valentine – who played Libby Kennedy for 15 years on the soap – sued the producers of the soap alleging sex and disability discrimination
In 2013, Kym Valentine – who played Libby Kennedy for 15 years on the soap – sued the producers alleging sex and disability discrimination.
She sought compensation for pain, hurt, suffering and humiliation, alleging FremantleMedia Australia failed to provide a safe working environment for her.
She also demanded she be rehired as Libby before her contract ended in 2011.
However, in the same year, the star reached a confidential settlement with Fremantle Media, and returned to the soap in 2014 for a three-week guest spot as part of a storyline to celebrate 20 years of the Kennedy family.
Returned: In the same year, the star reached a confidential settlement with Fremantle Media, and returned to the soap in 2014 for a three-week guest spot as part of a storyline to celebrate 20 years of the Kennedy family. Pictured with co-star Dan Paris
Speaking about her reprisal of the role at the time, Kym made no mention of the court case.
Instead she simply said: ‘I’m really looking forward to catching up with old friends at Neighbours as well as getting to know many of the new cast. Playing Libby was a very important part of my life and I can’t wait to reintroduce audiences to her.’
Series producer Jason Herbison said: ‘We warmly welcome Kym back to the Neighbours family and we are sure audiences will be excited to see Libby back on Ramsay Street.’
Shane Connor’s drug drama
Wrongdoing: In 2004, Shane Connor’s contract was terminated by Grundy Television amid claims he was high on set, late to filming and would forget his lines
Shane Connor played iconic character Joe Scully on Neighbours after first arriving on-set in 1999.
However, in 2004, his contract was terminated by Grundy Television amid claims he was high on set, late to filming and would forget his lines.
Shane sued Grundy Television for unfair dismissal, and won $120,000 in compensation.
Won: Shane sued Grundy Television for unfair dismissal, and won $120,000 in compensation. Pictured with his co-star Janet Andrewartha
Amid the trial, the case heard how Janet Andrewartha – who played his on-screen wife Lyn – would complain about how late he was, as it caused a delay to filming.
The court heard that Shane had an amphetamine drug habit while performing on the TV show, which began following the tragic death of his brother in 2001.
In Shane’s defence, Jay Bunyan – who played his on-screen son Jack Scully – said it wasn’t uncommon for other castmembers to rock up to work worse for wear.
Since winning the case, Shane has gone on to work on a number of small movies and appeared in pantomimes across the UK.
Eliza Szonert’s baby snatching scandal
Shock: Eliza Szonert, who played Danni Stark on the show, hit headlines after it was reported in 2015 that she allegedly spent time in a rehabilitation facility
Eliza Szonert, who played Danni Stark on the show, hit headlines after it was reported in 2015 that she allegedly spent time in a rehabilitation facility.
She then sensationally snatched her son from the child’s father Ashley Crick at a restaurant in Malaysia on December 10 amid a child custody battle, after hiring a controversial child recovery agency.
She spent 24 hours in a police cell in Malaysia, for refusing to reveal her son’s location and call for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to help.
She was later allowed to leave with her son without charge, after adhering to police requests to take him to a doctor.
Moved on: Eliza was later allowed to leave with her son without charge, after adhering to police requests to take him to a doctor
‘She can leave Malaysia for home with her son. We have investigated the case and the deputy public prosecutor has decided that there will be no prosecution against her,” Kuala Lumpur police chief Tajuddin Mohamad Isa said at the time.
On December 30, she wrote on Facebook: ‘We’re coming home at last. After a few months I wouldn’t ever want to relieve, it’s finally all over.
‘Thank you everyone for your love, support and assistance during this exhausting ordeal. More than anything I’m just looking forward to getting home and spending time with my son again.’
Alan Dale’s axing
Sacked: An original cast member of the popular Australian drama, Alan Dale’s character Jim Robinson was on the show for eight years before dying of a heart attack in 1993
An original cast member of the popular Australian drama, Alan Dale’s character Jim Robinson was on the show for eight years before dying of a heart attack in 1993.
Alan’s distaste over how much the actors were paid was common knowledge among the crew.
But it wasn’t until management heard an off-the-cuff remark during a conversation with a co-star, that the veteran actor was fired.
‘I made some sort of crack about the fact that when we started doing Neighbours [in 1985], we got paid the same money as when I was doing The Young Doctors [which he starred in from 1979-1983],’ he told TV Week in 2016.
Star: Since leaving the show, the dad-of-four has carved a successful career for himself, moving the US about 16 years ago
The New Zealand-born star, now 69, also revealed that although they were paid $600 a week, half that amount was overseas residuals.
Since leaving the show, the dad-of-four has carved a successful career for himself.
In the same interview, he said he was ‘happy’ to have been axed from the show.
‘I’m happy to be out of it – look at my career’, he added.
Alan went on to star in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ugly Betty, The OC and Gossip Girl.
Claims: In April 2021, Neighbours was once again plunged into scandal after an indigenous guest actress Shareena Clanton claimed a racist culture was running ‘rife’ on set
In April 2021, Neighbours was once again plunged into scandal after an indigenous guest actress claimed a racist culture was running ‘rife’ on set.
Shareena Clanton says her six-week stint on Ramsay Street in a guest role was marred by ‘multiple racist traumas’ which have required ongoing counselling.
During filming in January and February this year, the use of racial slurs became so common at least one actor was asked to leave the set and take cultural sensitivity training, Ms Clanton claims.
The 30-year-old wrote on Instagram: ‘It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space,’ adding she would never work for the Network Ten show again.
Within the social media post, the Perth-born actor listed multiple allegations of racist and inappropriate behaviour by senior Neighbours staff and fellow cast members.
Ms Clanton says she fired her agent when he described a senior staff member’s alleged use of the term ‘slave driver’ – in reference to him working hard – as ‘office banter’.
She also claims the set was ‘rife’ with covert levels of racism, citing a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a ‘lil’ monkey’ as an alleged example.
She claims she tried to explain why the slur was so offensive but to no avail and reported the person to HR.
Ms Clanton also says HR were also forced to set up segregated spaces to keep feuding stars apart after the repeated use of the ‘n’ word in front of her, twice on set and in the green room.
Speaking out: Ms Clanton says her six-week stint on Ramsay Street in a guest role was marred by ‘multiple racist traumas’ which have required ongoing counselling (pictured, Clanton with Colette Mann who is not believed to be involved in the allegations)
But that when she confronted the actor directly she was told to ‘go somewhere else’.
Speaking about challenging the alleged use of racist slurs, she told Guardian Australia: ‘A staff member turned to me and told me that I needed to take it somewhere else, because I was making other people uncomfortable’.
Ms Clanton claims the alleged perpetrator was only reprimanded and ordered to attend cultural sensitivity training after they had used the ‘n’ word twice.
In another instance, an actress is accused of openly laughing when the same racist term was used – a claim Ms Clanton said the woman denied when questioned by human resources.
‘She said that I ‘misconstrued’ what she was ‘laughing at’ and that she was laughing at ‘something else’. That is a blatant lie,’ Ms Clanton wrote.
‘The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracized and further marginalised.’
A Fremantle Media spokesperson said the Network Ten soap, now into its 35th year, ‘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,’ a statement said.
‘Shareena’s involvement in the creative process and on set 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.’
Training: During filming in January and February this year, Ms Clanton claims the use of racial slurs became so common at least one actor was asked to leave the set and take cultural sensitivity training