Ian Smith on his three decades as Neighbours’ Harold Bishop: ‘Bouncer’s death hurt me most!’

Ian Smith, AKA the legendary Harold ‘Jelly Belly’ Bishop, tells TV Times what his biggest moments were in three decades of Neighbours

Harold and Madge (1987)
My favourite scene ever was between Harold and Madge (Anne Charleston). Harold was telling Madge how upset Mrs Mangel was about finding all this fluff under her fridge.
For some reason, it turned into one of the funniest scenes we had ever done. We fell about laughing so much, we couldn’t do anything. It was almost as funny as the time Harold did the waltz with Mrs Mangel after they’d both been on the cider.


Scott and Charlene’s Wedding (1988)
Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue were kids back then, but I knew that something big was going to happen for both of them. Kylie was so driven. There was something about the way she looked after herself on the studio floor.

I remember this time in the green room when she was talking to some idiot who wanted her to stand by their product and say what a wonderful experience it had been. She very calmly wrote down on piece of paper how much it would cost her to have this wonderful experience. I thought then, ‘This girl will go far’.


Bouncer dies (1993)
This sounds wrong, but the death that hurt me more than all the others was Bouncer. I mean that dear, lovely beautiful dog was wonderful and he got cancer off screen. It really affected us all something awful.


Madge finds Harold (1996)
Poor Harold was very confused. He was in a mist of worry not knowing who he was. Madge turned up whilst he was working for the Salvation Army as ‘Ted’. He said to her ‘You know me, don’t you?’ It was my idea to say that line. I was so lucky working with Anne. We got on really well in real-life and were always backing each other up.


Susan slaps Karl (1998)
Susan slapped Karl a few times, but when she hit him in 1998 because he’d been a bit wayward, it was brilliant because it happened so suddenly. We weren’t expecting it and she hit him hard. He deserved it though!


Madge dies of cancer (2001)
This felt quite shocking at the time because storyliners made it linger for so long, even Anne, who played Madge, was saying ‘For God’s sake, let me die.’ But you know, in real life, it can take time and that is the awfulness of cancer I suppose. It was a very emotional storyline for the pair of us, but once the director shouted ‘cut’ we popped a Champagne cork.

Susan loses her sight (2012)
Jackie Woodburne did this wonderfully. If an actor has to do something like that, we all go into our ragbag of memories and say ‘I played a blind person at such and such.’ We all got together and told Jackie everything we knew and when we finished, we were all quite versed. We always tried to dig as deeply as possibly as we are the faces who get the flak if it isn’t convincing.

*Neighbours turns 30 in the UK on Wednesday, March 18