Less than two months after its termination, Neighbours has confirmed the casting of the show’s first non-binary character.
Kathleen Ebbs, who identifies as non-binary and queer, is slated to join the cast of the show, which will premiere on 10play on May 10.
On Thursday, they announced their casting in an Instagram post, saying they were “stoked” to play Asher Nesmith.
‘Welcoming Ramsey [sic] Street’s first non-binary character,’ they wrote, beside a selfie of themselves on set.
‘As someone who grew up watching this classic soap, it was an honour to be a part of not only this incredible ensemble, but also to be the representation I so sorely needed as a youngster.’
‘I hope I’ve done my community proud and that you like Asher as much as I did.’ ‘I’m here to have a good time, not to stay for a long time!’
Kathleen joked in a separate Instagram Story on Thursday that many of her pals had been asking why they were in Melbourne.
‘At long last, you’ll understand why I’ve been hiding away in Melbourne.’ They added, ‘Coming for you, Ramsey [sic] Street!’
Kathleen also talked about how important it was for her to play Neighbours’ first non-binary character, admitting it was “extremely emotional.”
‘In all seriousness, it’s been a pretty emotional thing for me to be the first non-binary character to appear on Neighbours,’ they continued.
‘A part of me feels the pressure, but I’m grateful that @neighbours chose [sic] me to represent young queer people and educate an audience about our presence.’ Because, yes, we do exist!’
‘Note: NB [non-binary] persons express gender and what it means to them in a variety of ways,’ they wrote.
‘Asher represents one interpretation of gender diversity. I did all I could for the character based on how I see gender diversity in my own life.’
Kathleen also complimented Neighbours for being “in the forefront of LGBT storytelling on television,” noting that the show “not only celebrates but normalises our presence.”
‘This is a significant step forward for the rest of the television landscape in terms of taking us seriously as artists and people,’ they continued.
The long-running soap’s production would be halted owing to budget concerns, according to a tweet posted in March.
‘After over 37 years and approximately 9,000 episodes broadcast, we regret to inform you that Neighbours will be ending production in June,’ they wrote.
‘Following the loss of our important broadcast partner in the United Kingdom, and despite a thorough search for alternative funding, we have no choice but to put the show on hold.’
‘We know this is a big disappointment to our amazing, dedicated fans, as it is to all of us on the team. We appreciate all of your messages and support, and we pledge to end the programme on a positive note. We’ll be commemorating Neighbours from now on.’
In a statement to Australian media at the time, Network 10 acknowledged that ending the series had been a “tough decision.”
‘Today, Fremantle revealed that Neighbours will end production in June, following over 37 years and approximately 9,000 episodes,’ a representative for the network said.
‘This tough choice was made after an unsuccessful search for an alternate UK broadcast partner.’
They went on to say that the show would ‘not air on 10 Peach after September 2022,’ thereby ending its decades-long run.
Kathleen was critical of the Australian government for not doing more to aid with the approaching termination of the cherished TV series.
‘Not only does this government not prioritise the arts, but it has also shown that it is unconcerned about the lives of queer people on a daily basis,’ they added.
‘Of course they didn’t intervene to support the country’s longest-running television show.’ One that not only creates a lot of employment and is a vital institution for young actors, artists, writers, and other creative types, but also prioritises LGBT narratives and representation.’
‘It’s a huge loss,’ they added simply.