Neighbours’ original cast 36 years on – booze, cocaine, prison and pop success

It's incredible to think Neighbours made its TV premiere more than three decades ago.

Since first bursting onto our screens in 1985, the upbeat Australian soap has helped to launch an array of future superstars.

From global pop stars and stage favourites, the residents of Ramsay Street have certainly enjoyed their fair share of success.

But not all of leafy Erinsborough's past residents have had it easy since leaving the show.

Some turned to drink and drugs, while others were fired and even jailed.

Here, we take a look at the ups and downs of some of Ramsay Street's original cast members and reveal what they are up to today.

Paul Keane (Des Clarke)

Paul Keane, who played devoted family man Des Clarke, was one of the very first faces to appear on the show in January 1986.

One of the original cast's most-loved characters, Des's stag do – aka "buck night" in Australia – was the opening scene of the pilot episode.

Having left the soap in 1990, however, Keane went off the rails, descending into a public battle with drugs and booze.

"I have had a lot of problems," he told the Herald Sun in 2015. "It's only years and years later that I have realised that I was struggling with mental health issues – with anxiety disorders and depression. I was hospitalised numerous times for substance abuse.

"The doctors were so focused on treating the addictions that they didn't diagnose the underlying conditions that were causing it."

Keane reprised his role as Des for the show's 30th anniversary special in 2015 and again last year.

Jason Donovan (Scott Robinson)

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Arguably Ramsey street's first heartthrob, mullet-loving good guy Scott Robinson – aka Jason Donovan – has had a mixed time of it since leaving the show.

Like Keane, he also struggled with drug addiction, reportedly taking three grams of cocaine a day during the peak of his habit.

He became so hooked he almost died in 1995 after overdosing at Kate Moss's 21st birthday party at The Viper Room in Los Angeles.

Despite his brush with death, Donovan told the BBC four years later: "I still have a joint and I still take coke, but not as much as I did two years ago."

Donovan claims he stopped taking drugs in 2000 following the birth of his first child.

The 52-year-old has still forged successful pop and stage careers, best known for his early 90s chart-toppers such as Too Many Broken Hearts and Especially for You – a duet he performed with former Neighbours onscreen wife Kylie Minogue.

He has also appeared in several reality TV stints and starred as Joseph in West End hit Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for a year.

Kylie Minogue (Charlene Robinson)

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One of the most popular of all former Neighbours, Kylie has has been hugely successful in the decades that have followed her exit.

After quitting her role as loveable rogue Charlene Robinson in 1988, she launched a pop music career with award-winning UK hitmakers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, scoring a string of chart-toppers including The Loco-Motion and I Should Be So Lucky.

Despite a dip in popularity in the mid-90s, the 52-year-old bounced back with hits such as the sultry Confide In Me and dance floor classic Spinning Around.

In 2005, she revealed with had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The singer underwent a lumpectomy and chemotherapy before being declared cancer-free in February 2006.

She is also famed for a wave of high-profile romances with celebs including Neighbours co-star Donovan, late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, Aussie singer Nick Cave and award-winning French actor Olivier Martinez.

The pop princess continues to perform to the masses to this day, having released 15 albums during her enduring 33-year career.

She has also appeared in seven films, including Street Fighter and Moulin Rouge.

Elaine Smith (Daphne Clarke)

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First coming to our attention as a stripper in Neighbours' debut episode, she formed a brief love triangle with future husband Des and his best friend, Shane Ramsey.

She was killed off in 1987 after asking to leave the show because producers feared splitting from Des would anger fans.

She has since left acting behind and now works as a primary school teacher in Sydney.

"I found all the attention pretty overwhelming because I'm quite a private person and people would shout 'stripper' at me in the street!' she said.

Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson)

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Ramsay Street's original bad boy, Stefan Dennis's role as ruthless businessman Paul Robinson was a much-needed antidote to the show's typically whiter-than-white personalities.

The character had such a fearsome reputation that the producers thought about killing him off, but eventually settled on him leaving Erinsborough in 1994 instead.

Years later, the 62-year-old revealed he had been fired by being too good at his job.

He said the producers said his acting he been so convincing as a villain that they didn't "know what to do anymore we’ve just taken the character way too far.”

After Neighbours, Dennis embarked on a brief music career, scoring minor hits such as Don't It Make You Feel Good, which peaked at number 11 in the UK charts.

He has since appeared in countless TV and stage productions, including The Bill, Casualty and in West End musical Blood Brothers.

Throughout the 1990s and 00s, he was a regular on the UK panto circuit.

He too returned for Neighbours' 30th anniversary special show.

Alan Dale (Jim Robinson)

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Despite earning an enviable reputation as a Hollywood hosthot, actor Alan Dale is probably best known for his role as Jim Robinson in the Aussie soap.

A mainstay from the first episode, Dale stayed with the show until 1993 after Jim died from a heart attack.

As it turns out, Dale, whose credits now include blockbusters such as Star Trek Nemesis, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Skulls, was reportedly sacked from the show for allegedly demanding more than the $AUS600 (£330) he earned per week.

"I made some sort of crack about the fact that when we started doing Neighbours [in 1985], we got paid the same money as when I was doing The Young Doctors [which he starred in from 1979-1983]," he told TV Week back in 2016.

"I'm happy to be out of it – look at my career."

The 74-year-old went on to star in hit shows Ugly Betty, The OC and Once Upon A Time.

Despite the animosity with producers, he made a fleeting return to Neighbours as a vision in the soap's first ever Christmas Day episode.

David Clencie (Danny Ramsay)

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David Clencie has the honour of being the first person to speak in the show.

Beating Jason Donovan to the role, he played Danny Ramsay, the gentle young son of the Ramsay family.

After leaving the show in, Clencie struggled with long-term alcoholism.

In 2014, the 56-year-old was jailed for brutally attacking his fiancée.

During his hearing, he told the court the addiction had left him "in complete tatters".

Peter O'Brien (Shane Ramsay)

The eldest son of Max Ramsay, and was initially Des Clarke's love rival when he began dating Daphne Lawrence.

After a colourful time in Erinsborough, the character left Ramsay Street in 1987 to travel around Australia.

Following his time on Neighbours, he has appeared in a host of big roles including parts in Queer as Folk and Gossip Girl.

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