An exclusive Planet London interview with the newest LBQ woman on TV, returning to Neighbours is lesbian favourite, Carla Bonner aka Steph Scully on Monday 19 October.
Planet London (PL): Good morning Carla, how are you? We are really excited to see you back on the show.
Carla Bonner (CB): I am really good thanks!
PL: So, Steph left Ramsay Street with not one but two explosive and contraversial storylines in a bit of a demise... How would you describe her return?
CB: True Steph style yet again, explosive, dramatic (laughs) it's never really dull with Steph around, she is quite controversial. It's a good entry, it's shocking for the residents - some more than others - it's just really great and I couldn't but giggle at some of the responses from the actors during scenes as they portray their reactions. It's great to be back.
PL: Do you think Steph has learned from her mistakes? Is she back on the straight and narrow?
CB: I wouldn't say we need to call it the straight and narrow... her situation was caused by a bit of a mistake shagging her best friend's husband then marrying her best friend Toadie to keep the secret, (typical Steph style!) but then it became a hormonal thing with the post natal depression. She was making poor choices through the hormonal imbalance, then went out on the bike when she probably shouldn't have and ended up in prison as a result of killing Ringo.
But while she was in prison she had this mental break down, a psychotic break because she lost everything, she lost her son Charlie, she gave the baby Adam away. Charlie was the most important thing in her world. When she got out (2 years ago) she was trying to rehabilitate herself back into society... but she was a bit delusional, not quite right and then went off her medication which was disastrous for her. It was just tragic really!
PL: We were in tears about it here!
CB: I know, but I think it was a really good move on the writers' part to raise awareness about mental illness and I think it's good to use a character who would be the last person you would expect to end up in that situation.
PL: So may be it's better to say she has bounced back?
CB: She's very much herself again...but maybe it's more of a dribble than a full bounce. She's on her meds, she's in therapy, but her life will never be as simple as it once was as she has to maintain the mental balance, and there are situations that will threaten her wellbeing and state of mind. But she has a good grip on what she needs to do, she's remorseful, she's holding her accountability, she's being responsible so she's back to prove to everybody she is the Steph they know and love.
PL: As a lesbian fan favourite, we are so excited to see Steph return in a same sex relationship - why is this new relationship important to her?
CB: (laughs) Yes, she is! This bond was formed in Steph's darkest hours. Belinda came into Steph's life when Steph didn't know if she could go on... Belinda came in with her love and support and just provided so much light for Steph to help her get the balance back. Initially it was just this beautiful connection they had, then with the many weeks, months, years they spent together the bond became an emotional bond and then intimate. It was a gradual thing, with no judgement, a connection of heart and soul. At a time in Steph's life when she felt the whole world was against her, here was somebody showing her so much love and understanding and compassion. It's got to be something to hold on to!
PL: So a bit different from all the camping trips with Libby and Steph then?
CB: (Laughs) I know, everybody has their own little sordid stories about what went on with Libby and Steph that I guess are cemented
now! That was always such a fun friendship between those two and I can see how many people may have thought about them, or fantasised about that... it was great fun and came very naturally too.
PL: Steph's been through a lot during her time in Ramsay Street... breast cancer, her grandfather dying, a baby by her best friend's husband, kidnapping, psychosis... how you prepare for all those storylines whilst keeping Steph this girl next door who takes no fools?
CB: I think I deal with it differently now to how I did back then. It's much easier now to get myself out of it at the end of the day.
When I did the breast cancer storyline, it was awful and horrendous. I loved doing it and it was a great honour to be given a storyline that raises awareness. The only way I can tell a story is to be honest. For that storyline I drew on my own experiences of fears and applied them to the script and the situation. At the end of that three months, I'd put myself through feeling everyday that I was going to die so it would show in my eyes and I could embody it, it rushed through my veins... but at the end of that time I was having nightmares and then I developed a lump in my throat but I had a CT scan and luckily it turned out to be a strained muscle. But it made me realise I needed to develop better technique to switch off - that as far as I needed to go raw and deep to draw on the emotion, the main thing is to leave it behind on set. So now I'm just in it every moment, drawing from truth and honesty. I don't anticipate too much in advance now, just do it in the moment.
PL: And how is it being on set with your son Harley
CB: It's so cool, really cool - my kid is so cool. We've done some scenes together and it's great!
PL: Finally to wrap up, the show is so big over here, a massive institution, have you got any messages for the UK fans?
CB: Tell them I love them lots and hope to see them really soon. I want to come over for a visit... We need to get on to Freemantle to arrange //
[Strangely the call was cut off at the point but Planet London agrees, the whole cast of Neighbours, especially Carla should come ove for a visit...]
Watch Neighbours, weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.