Ramsay St Matriarch Jackie Woodburne Dishes On All-Female Neighbours Episode
'Neighbours' has found the perfect blend for International Women's Day with an episode featuring an all-female cast.
It's the very first time in the show's 34 years on air that an episode was both directed by a woman (Kate Kendall) and features a storyline that focuses solely on the women of Ramsay St.
International Women's Day has been around for over a hundred years and is all about highlighting the social, economic and political achievements of women -- something that legendary castmember Jackie Woodburne was excited to explore on the small screen.
Woodburne -- who has been playing the beloved Susan Kennedy since 1995 -- said the special episode that brings women to the forefront will definitely be a conversation starter.
"I think it’s terrific and it [International Women's Day] has very much a global drive but I think when we see that reflected in a small neighbourhood it reminds people that we’ve still got a long way to go," she said of achieving gender equity.
A quick look at the female speaking time in this year's Academy Awards Best Picture nominees shows that even at the highest level, female on-screen representation has a long way to go, even more so for women of colour.
Similarly, the Best Director category nominees at the Oscars was exclusively male -- and just four percent of the top-grossing feature films from 2007-2018 were directed by women, something the 4% Challenge is committed to changing.
Which is why the all-female episode of Neighbours, which was written and directed by women, is a step in the right direction at a local level, according to executive producer Sara Richardson.
"We have a brilliant and inclusive team on Neighbours who are proud to celebrate and recognise the crucial role of women," she said. "We want this generation and the next to know they can achieve anything they set their minds to," Richardson added.
The March 8 episode is all about the women of Erinsbororough resolving to finish the community initiatives started by Sonya Rebecchi (Eve Morey) before she passed away from ovarian cancer.
Piper (Mavournee Hazel) also decides to interview each of the Ramsay St women about their female heroes, the people who helped shape their identities.
"All the women are talking about their different mentors and heroes through their lives but I think what’s nice is to get to see characters reflecting just one-on-one," Woodburne told 10 daily of the rare format change.
"Because the show is so often plot driven and we move at such a pace and it’s all happening at great speed," she added.
While it's the first time that Neighbours has aired an all-female episode, the show does have a history of putting strong female friendships front and centre.
One of the most memorable was Susan Kennedy's relationship with Lyn Scully (Janet Andrewartha) that started during the late '90s.
"Janet and I both loved that friendship too," Woodburne told 10 daily. "Their relationship was independent of their husbands, it was very much that they were really great mates and would go and do things together.
"We’ve known each other forever," Woodburne said of Andrewartha. "We went to the same drama school, she was a couple of years ahead of me. So we’ve been friends for, gosh almost 40 years."
We asked Woodburne about another very memorable storyline with Ramsay St villain Izzy Hoyland, played by our Changing Rooms hero, Natalie Bassingthwaite.
And although viewers are very protective of Susan when Izzy pops back into Erinsborough -- Woodburne assured us that they're actually very close off-screen.
"We’re good friends!" she laughed. "She’s terrific, wonderful to work with. She’s funny, very professional, very prepared, she’ll give anything a go."
Which just makes us think that Jackie should really make a cameo appearance on Changing Rooms for the ultimate Neighbours/renovation crossover episode!
tune into the very special International Women's Day episode of Neighbours on Friday, March 8 at 6.30pm, only on 10 Peach.
Main Image: Network Ten.