Biggest Neighbours scandals – racism allegations, boob job and drug drama

Neighbours has been a fan favourite since it first aired in 1985. Set in Melbourne, Australia, the show quickly gathered viewers from all over the globe.

Following its instant success, the TV show became the longest-running drama series in Australian history – and is still going strong today.

Ramsay Street has delivered some absolute icons over the years, including fan favourites like Sonya Rebecchi, Nicolette Stone and Charlene Robinson.

But as fans constantly keep up to date with ever-evolving drama, many don’t know that there was drama behind the scenes too – and much of it was a lot more sinister.

Let’s take a look at the scandals that the actors were involved in while they played happy families, or happy neighbours, on our television screens.

'Racism' on set

Just last year, allegations emerged about racism behind the scenes of Neighbours, when Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton spoke out.

The actress, whose first episode had just aired, claimed that she was a victim of racially abusive language by members of the cast and crew.

She told in an expose that she heard the N-word be used multiple times on set and that there was an incident in which a fellow actor used the term ‘monkey’ when describing someone.

Shareena said in an Instagram post at the time: Struggling to post anything positive about the months I endured on @neighbours after multiple racist traumas and navigating ongoing counselling from this highly problematic show.

“It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space.”

She continued: “Overt and covert levels of racism were rife, often disguised as “jokes” like a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a 'lil’ monkey”.

“Twice I endured the “N”-word openly being used on-set and in the green room. I was even told to “go somewhere else” by staff when confronting the actor directly because I was making others “uncomfortable”.”

The Neighbours star also shared experiences of sexism and misogyny on set, writing: “A Head of Department thought it funny and appropriate to openly laugh at the word “c** slut” by a cast member who loudly spoke about “c**”, “c**”, “c**” in front of other cast and crew.”

She ended the lengthy post: “I’ll never work for this show again.”

Once Shareena had gone public with her claims, other actors followed with similar allegations. Meyne Wyatt, a star on Neighbours from 2014 to 2016, said on Twitter: "Neighbours do better! The Film and TV Industries do better! Australia do better!"

Meyne claimed he had experienced “rampant” homophobia and racism while working on the show.

A statement to CNN from Neighbours said at the time: “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."

Offered a boob job by the boss

This seemingly wasn’t the only incidence of sexism on the set. Former Neighbours star Nicola Charles revealed in 2020 that a producer on the show told her he would pay for her to get a boob job.

Nicola was a well-loved star of the show from 1995 to 2016 in the role of Sarah Beaumont.

But in an interview with the Herald Sun, Nicola revealed it wasn’t all glitz and glamour behind the scenes.

The actress said that not only was she told to get a boob job, but she was also even told to leak naked photos of herself on the internet to further her fame.

She said: “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.

“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."'

Nicola said when she got her name called out, she would think she was in trouble – but it would turn out to just be the “general stuff” – “like offering a set of boobs, telling me to behave, what to wear”.

The star added: “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.”

Strip club scandal

Another scandal erupted when Scott McGregor, who played Detective Mark Brennan on the soap in 2011, told an exotic dancer in a strip club to “f*** off”.

The Daily Mail reports that exotic dancer Danielle ‘Ivy’ Lee was later found guilty of throwing a glass at his face, causing him to have three stitches.

But Danielle claimed that the glass throwing was a reaction to Scott, who had verbally abused her that night, telling her: "F*** off you dirty s**t. You are a piece of s**t. I would never take someone as dirty as you.”

“He said: "I am better than that. I am better than you. F*** off",” she told the court.

Magistrate Mark Howden rules that though Scott had assaulted Danielle, her reaction was “disproportionate” to the offence. She was released after paying $1000.

'Pain, hurt, suffering and humiliation'

Amid a seemingly never-ending list of accusations of abuse on set, Kym Valentine accused producers of sex and disability discrimination in 2013.

She sued for pain, hurt, suffering, and humiliation, but later reached a confidential settlement with Fremantle Media and returned to the show.

She publicly only said: "I’m really looking forward to catching up with old friends at Neighbours and 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.”

Overdoses and 'dilated pupils' on set

But this wasn’t the only kind of abuse that occurred on set. Neighbours star Nicola Charles revealed after her time on the show that the cast would often be on drugs while filming, theDaily Mail reports.

She said in 2021 that a female co-star, who she did not want to name publicly, once overdosed on speed while the two were on set – and she had to come to her aid.

The claims were made in her autobiography, Soap Star. Nicola, who played the infamous Sarah Beaumont on the soap in the 1990s and early 2000s, said she found colleagues having drug overdoses multiple times.

Another time, she found a colleague who was overdosing on amphetamines, “barely conscious and struggling”.

She said: “The human inside me couldn't leave her there alone on the couch, barely conscious and struggling. Her so-called friends on the cast had conveniently disappeared and washed their hands of the situation.

“As I sat holding the frail and boney hand of an actress on the green room couch, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I couldn't help but have sympathy for her.”

Later, that same woman offered Nicola herself drugs, she revealed.

But Nicola wasn’t the only person to make claims like these, theMirror reports. Jay Bunyan, who played Shane Connor’s onscreen son Jack Scully claimed actors would frequently turn up hungover or on drugs.

He said: “You usually see it with some of the younger cast members turning up hungover or with dilated pupils . . . as a result of drugs or alcohol.''

"They usually get quick smart into makeup to hide it all,” he added.

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