Neighbours to introduce first non-binary character weeks before soap ends for good
Australian soap Neighbours has cast its first non-binary character, just weeks after it announced its cancellation.
The new character, Asher Nesmith, will be played by non-binary actor Kathleen Ebbs, with their first episode airing on 10 May.
“Stoked to finally announce that I have been cast as Asher Nesmith on Neighbours! Welcoming the first non-binary character to hit Ramsey Street,” Ebbs said on Instagram.
“As someone who grew up watching this iconic soap it was an honour to not only be a part of this amazing cast, but to be that representation I so desperately needed as kid.
“I hope I’ve done my community proud and you enjoy Asher as much as I enjoyed playing them.”
Ebbs quipped that they would be on the show “for a good time, not a long time”, as the soap – which has been running since 1985 – ends in June.
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Though Asher Nesmith will be Neighbours’ first non-binary character, the show has previously featured a trans teenager played by Georgie Stone.
Stone said it was important for a trans actress such as herself to play the role, as “trans people don’t get a lot of opportunities”.
“Often for the telling of our own stories, we’re not invited,” she said.
“There are so many incredible, wonderful trans actors out there that could be cast and could be really good in these roles and in terms of the ratio of trans roles and cisgender roles… I think it’s absolutely reasonable that trans actors should be playing trans roles.
“If we are going to be shunned to the side in so many different scenarios, we should at least be able to play trans characters in movies and TV shows.”
We are so sorry to say that after nearly 37 years and almost 9000 episodes broadcast we have to confirm that Neighbours will cease production in June. pic.twitter.com/YwlDZPb7zB
— Neighbours (@neighbours) March 3, 2022
It was announced in March on that Neighbours would be ending production in June, after UK broadcaster Channel 5 decided to stop airing it.
Without Channel 5’s funding, and no viable replacement, production on the show was no longer viable.
“We are so sorry to say that after nearly 37 years and almost 9000 episodes broadcast we have to confirm that Neighbours will cease production in June,” the TV show said.
“Following the loss of our key broadcast partner in the UK and despite an extensive search for alternative funding, we simply have no option but to rest the show.”