The Oz family Robinson
Australian actor Tim Phillipps has become the latest generation of Robinsons to take up residence in Neighbours. But, as Keith Sharp finds, he has never met his "parents", played by Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan.
Few actors are able to have a double shot at a role on the Australian soap Neighbours, but Tim Phillipps has managed it.
Phillipps is now ensconced in Ramsay Street after turning up as Daniel Robinson - son of the show's most famous couple, Scott and Charlene Robinson (Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue).
They left the neighbourhood for Brisbane 26 years ago. So, as a kind of representative of The Robinsons: The Next Generation, Daniel would like to think he is ushering in a new era in the family story.
It might all have been so different, though. In 2007, Phillipps auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Ringo Brown but was later offered a three-month guest role as a character called Fox, a figment of Paul Robinson's imagination.
It was a good job for the budding actor but Phillipp then believed his Neighbours stint was over for good.
"I guess, yeah - at the time I did think that would be the end of the road," says Phillipps.
"But as it was my first gig ever, it really kick-started everything."
Clearly, the producers of Neighbours decided that seven years was long enough for viewers to have forgotten Fox, and they were happy to offer Phillipp the new role of Daniel. So did it feel weird coming back in a different role?
"Yes and no," he says. "Fortunately, I'm working so closely with Stefan Dennis again and it's a similar sort of character in that he's got a close relationship with Paul Robinson, so it felt a little like stepping back into the old role, in a sense, so that side of it wasn't too weird.
"It was nice that it was a familiar workplace. Obviously a lot of new faces, but I had my head around it already so it was nice to come in and hit the ground running."
Phillipp feels that those extra few years before joining Neighbours full-time may have worked in his favour as an actor.
Daniel Robinson is about four years younger than 26-year-old Phillipps and the actor sees it as a nice compliment to be cast younger than his real age.
"It means, hopefully, a longer career," he says, "because if you play down I guess it's an advantage. Also, you can bring a bit more knowledge to a younger character because you've been there and you know what's to come."
Phillipps says he watched the show "religiously" during his high school years but, in a touch of irony, he was born too late to see his screen "parents" Scott and Charlene.
Nevertheless, he has learned to speak of them as real people. So how are the folks getting along in Brisbane these days?
"They're good," says Phillipps (or Daniel). "They're in good spirits, and are really loving, supportive parents who I guess allowed me and encouraged me to be the kind of guy I am and to go and travel Australia and see what it has to offer and experience things. So they're great."
Has he had any contact with Jason and Kylie?
"Not personally - not real contact," he laughs. "Daniel's had multiple phone calls to Charlene, which is really fun. But I haven't met the real deal yet.
"But it definitely has helped to watch some old clips. There's loads of stuff on YouTube dedicated to Scott and Charlene. It's actually been quite funny to watch that back now that I've been working on the role for a few months."
By all accounts, Scott and Charlene have raised a good son (and a daughter, Madison, whom we have yet to see), and Phillipps is comfortable in Daniel's skin.
"He's your laid-back surfer dude," Phillipps says. "A bit of a hippie, definitely loves nature, has a massive passion for photography and is just a loving, friendly guy who wants to get along with everyone... Just a really good-spirited young man."
As a carrier of his parents' genes, Daniel is obviously a good-looking young man who is bound to have more than a few romances.
So how long, we wonder, before Scott and Charlene Robinson become grandparents? It doesn't bear thinking about, does it?
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