Neighbours: Clive Gibbons speaks! Interview with Erinsborough legend Geoff Paine

The actor reveals what’s in store for Clive and Sheila’s romance, and recalls the Kylie and Jason era

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Neighbours fans of a certain age were delighted by the brief return of old favourite Clive Gibbons in 2017, almost 30 years after he left Erinsborough.

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Quirky Clive was a regular in the Aussie import’s golden Scott and Charlene era of the late 80s, fondly remembered by fans for his rivalry with Paul Robinson and the life-saving tracheotomy he performed on Lucy Robinson on her kitchen table.

Now the former gorilla-gram GP-turned-hospital COO bigwig has become a recurring face around his old stomping ground, with a sweet and entertaining romance with Sheila Canning . Geoff Paine spoke to RadioTimes.com during a recent visit to the UK about Clive, Kylie, Jason and his hidden talents…

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Was it a surprise to be asked back to the show?
Truth be told I made enquiries through my agent and they came back and said yes, let’s have Clive back. So I offered my services!

Had you been asked back since leaving in the 80s?
A few times but the timing didn’t work because of life and career. My kids are grown up now and it felt like the right time. The mechanics of making TV has changed obviously, yet the core of Neighbours is still there.

How has Clive changed?
He’s matured and is bit more buttoned up. He used to have a more spontaneous lifestyle, but life has caught up with him and he’s become the COO of Erinsborough Hospital, kind of the admin guy. I think he’s looking to re-establish a part of his life that he enjoyed, which was his time in Ramsay Street. And in the process he’s met Sheila – you couldn’t find two more different people!

Do you enjoy working with Collette Mann for the Clive/Sheila romance?
Yes, we’ve known each for decades so it’s terrific. Sheila harks back to Clive’s gorilla-gram days, she loosens him up and brings out his cheeky side, and she enjoys the affection that comes back her way. The relationship has happened organically through our chemistry. Clive describes Sheila as provocative and irritating but he’s enjoying being with her!

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What does the future hold for the couple?
Well, after Clive shattering the urn containing Sheila’s late husband’s ashes and offered to hoover them up – that was something of a passion killer! But it’s a temporary setback and there is hope for them, although there will be complications, nothing happens as you think it will. Hopefully Clive won’t end up killed by a blow to the head from a garden gnome like the last guy she was with! I’m going into this relationship on the basis Clive will live…

What are your memories of Neighbours mania in the 80s?
It was a local show that suddenly exploded in the UK, which was a huge and delightful surprise to all of us. After I left the show 30 years ago I lived in the UK for a while and I couldn’t walk down the street without people staring. Now I’m a middle-aged man who no one recognizes!

Do people still share their memories of that time?
I’ve done a lot of corporate work over the years and have had CEOs of multi-million dollar companies sheepishly confess they cut class as a student to watch Neighbours when Clive was in it!

How does that make you feel?
Old! And that I should’ve done advance business law because these people are running multi-million dollar companies! It’s one of those extraordinarily lucky things to be in something people still remember.

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You worked with Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce – did you predict their subsequent success?
As the writer William Goldman once said, ‘Nobody knows anything!’ We were all pretty young, I was 21, those guys were 18 or 19, all newbies. No one knows what the future’s going to hold and none of us really had a game plan. I was certainly making up as I went along! It’s lucky the show is still going and I’ve been able to return after all these years and visit my friends.

Clive and Paul were rivals, do you enjoy the references to their history?
Ah yes, they fell out over the love triangle with Susan Cole… It still cuts me! Although they had a sparkier relationship back in the day they do have their moments now. Paul has that forthright, no-nonsense businesslike quality, tempered by a much more mature style. But Clive is not to be pushed around these days, he’s in the more senior position career-wise. Paul is still a wheeler dealer, a powerful mogul and what he wants he usually gets, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with each other as time goes on.

What was your favourite Clive moment in your original stint?
Clive’s drumming technique sticks in the mind – I think he helped Jason Donovan’s character Scott learn the drums. This was all because I embellished my skills as a young actor and it caught up with me – I said I could play the drums and never dreamed anyone would actually ask me to do it! That was an important lesson in telling the truth on your CV, or at least coming up with something you can get away with. There’s no sign of Clive’s drum kit these days, thankfully!

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Neighbours continues weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.