As Sky Mangel prepares for her dream wedding as part of Neighbours‘ continuing 35th anniversary celebrations, Stephanie McIntosh has revealed she fought to ensure writers were true to the character she first played 17 years ago and admits she questioned early versions of her comeback scripts.
“When the producer told me in the middle of 2019 what they had planned for Sky’s return it was an immediate ‘yes’ from me,” says the actress, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “I loved where they were taking it with bringing Lana back and having their wedding day.
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“From the writers’ point of view it was interesting as they were a new team from when I’d been there before. They hadn’t known Sky as a character originally and never wrote for her, and I shocked myself at how over-protective I became from when I got the scripts! I realised how much I had missed Sky, and wanted to make sure she stayed true to who she is.
“It was a fine line as of course I didn’t want to rock the boat professionally or be inconsiderate to the writers,” she says, candidly. “But I did go back to the story team and say it didn’t quite feel like the girl I knew. Initially she was too hard so some softening took place, but they were new to writing for her.
“They encouraged me to speak up and to care about the character which was lovely. I think we came to a good place and found Sky again!”
Since 2007 Ms Mangel has been living in Port Douglas raising her three kids, but has recently split from partner Dylan Timmins and rekindled her love for teenage crush Lana Crawford after a chance meeting six months ago.
The pair are now engaged with their big day set to be the fourth at the Lassiters wedding expo, the backdrop to the week-long anniversary celebrations that has seen a couple from each era of the soap get a second chance at making it down the aisle after their first attempts were curtailed.
“Seeing Lana again made Sky realise perhaps what she pushed down back then (the girls’ shared Neighbours’ first on-screen lesbian kiss in 2004) was still there for her and the timing was right. The hardest thing for Sky is telling Dylan and making sure he’s okay with it – they have three kids, now they are a modern family and are all in it together.”
Sky and Lana’s schoolgirl near-romance earned them an army of loyal fans at the time, and McIntosh is thrilled to revisit one of the soap’s most groundbreaking moments.
“Neighbours were brave and bold to have the kiss all those years ago, it wasn’t socially accepted as such like it is now. It’s exciting to bring it back authentically in this way at a time when finally it’s normalised.
“I hadn’t seen Bridget (Neval, aka Lana) since she left, it was a real blast from the past. Can you believe she only did 12 weeks in the show? She created such a powerful guest role and made this special relationship last a lifetime.”
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