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Interview with the BBC, thanks to the "So - Soaps" section of the BBC website:

Madeleine tells all to So Soaps ...

How much do you know about your Neighbours? Hear all the juicy gossip from Madeleine - alias the lovely Dione.

So Soaps: How did you feel when you won the part of Dione Bliss in Neighbours?
Madeleine: I was elated - it was my first TV role as well which made it even more exciting. Iíve been in Neighbours for just over a year now and itís still really exciting.

So Soaps: What did you think when you first walked onto the set?
Madeleine: It felt really bizarre - because it all looks so real when you watch it on TV - and then to be there is just so unreal.

So Soaps: Did you watch the show before you joined it?
Madeleine: Iíve always watched the show - ever since I can remember - so all the characters seem so real to me. In fact when I joined it took me months to stop calling all the cast by their character names!

So Soaps: What was your first scene in the show?
Madeleine: It was in a nightclub with Daniel (Joel) and Ryan (Toadfish). I was absolutely terrified - I hid behind the bar until they had gone! But they were so lovely to me that I soon relaxed.

So Soaps: Are you surprised at how popular the show is over here?
Madeleine: Iíve met loads of backpackers in Australia, who are huge fans of the show, so Iím not surprised by its popularity. In fact, when I meet fans they know more about the show than I do!

So Soaps: Could you imagine being a nurse in real life?
Madeleine: It would be fantastic to be a nurse because you get to help people every day in your job. Also, you get to be involved in the drama of their lives which is great.

Madeleine tells us some Neighbours secrets...

So Soaps: Dione's had a very rocky relationship with Joel, is true love going to win through for you both?
Madeleine: I canít say what happens, but all I will say is that the road to true love is rarely smooth and Joel and Dioneís relationship is no different - itís going to be a bumpy ride!

So Soaps: Youíve recently done work as a presenter in Australia - is that something you enjoy. And what other TV role would you love to do?
Madeleine: Yes I loved it! Getting that kind of live reaction from an audience is fantastic. On TV roles, Iíd love to have starred in Absolutely Fabulous - it was so funny and looked such good fun.

So Soaps: What kind of filming schedule do you have on Neighbours?
Madeleine: Very busy. We work five days a week, and some weekends and the studio is open for 14-hours a day - so you can have some long days. But itís great fun. And I'm so lucky because I wake up every morning and really look forward to going to work.

So Soaps: Finally, could you give us a teaser of something thatís coming up in the show?
Madeleine: WellÖ Dioneís love life is about to get very interesting indeed - controversial even. In fact, the love lives of a lot of the cast are going to be hotting up! Dione is also going to be moving into number 30 - but Iím not saying who with!


The following Interview is exclusive to neighbours.com

INTERVIEW WITH MADELEINE WEST - DIONE BLISS

If you've been watching Neighbours over the last few weeks, you would have noticed pretty Madeline West, who plays Joel's on/off girlfriend, Dione Bliss. The good news is that Madeline is set to hang around Ramsay Street for some time in the future, which means it's high time Neighbours.com got to know more about this talented 20-year-old! So here, in her first interview ever, Madeline talks about her past - and also shares her thoughts on winning a role in TV's best soap!

Neighbours.com: What is your background?
Madeleine West: I come from country Victoria originally, although I've lived all around Australia since then. I've been acting on stage since I was eight years old, but Neighbours is my first TV show so it's very exciting!

Do you come from a large family?
I have one brother who is a few years younger than me, plus a five year old sister and a three year old brother. So we're a really young family, and that's lovely.

Are your family and friends excited about your success?
Very much so. A lot of my friends work in the theatre, so it's always very exciting when someone gets a job which means they are going to be recognised. They're very supportive.

Did it take you a long time to break into TV?
I only got an agent two days before I heard about the audition, so it happened pretty quickly for me. So off I went to the audition and luckily got the part. I know it doesn't always happen that quickly for people, so I consider myself very fortunate.

How did you feel when you found out you won the part?
I was very excited. I just couldn't believe it, and even now, a few months into filming, I still feel the same way.

Do you remember your first day of filming? Was it nervewrecking?
It certainly was. It was on location in Ringwood, which is a suburb in Melbourne. I was absolutely terrified! I arrived about half an hour before everyone else and kept saying to myself 'I can deal with this, I can deal with this'. But then everyone started arriving and I began to feel very antsy. I remember when I first saw some of the regular cast members I hid, because I was so scared! But everything turned out okay, and everyone was really lovely, so that was good.

Have you been a fan of the show over the years?
Yeah, definitely. Especially because I now live here in Victoria, where the show is made. I found that when I lived in New South Wales, people would watch Home and Away more, but down here it's definitely Neighbours that people are into. So for me, after watching it all these years, it's wonderful to be a part of. It's the kind of dream that you expect to never come true, but it has.

As a fan of the show, has it been anything like you expected it would be?
I didn't know what to expect! I suppose I thought the actors would be like their characters, and some of them are, and some of them are not. And the technical side of things has been quite a challenge, too, as none of that is what I thought it would be. I've had to learn a lot very quickly.

Tell us about your character, Dione Bliss
She's a great character to play. She's very playful and has a nice, kind heart. She's very compassionate and, at the moment, is having a love/hate relationship with Joel. Originally, my contract was for eleven weeks, so I thought I would be limited to that. The challenge was to give her a past, present and a future all in that very short space of time. But now they are keeping me on, the challenge is to continue to make her interesting.

You work very closely with Daniel MacPherson. Do you get along well?
Yes, very well. He's a really nice friendly guy.

What has the relationship between Dione and Joel been like so far?
They met under a huge pretence - Dione is with her friend Vanessa, and she was pretending to be a model, and Vanessa a fashion designer. Joel was with Toadie, and he was pretending to be an Argentinean football player, and Toadie a lawyer, despite his diminutive years! So it was all quite silly and unbelievable, but they took a shine to each other and sorted it out.

So Dione is very attracted to Joel right from the moment she meets him?
Yes, definitely. There is huge fire and sparks between them.

It's no secret that a lot of people have recently left the show, most notably Brooke Stachwell, Jesse Spencer and Jacinta Stapleton. Do you feel much pressure to emulate their popularity?
Yes, definitely. The audience loved all those characters. It was heartbreaking for me as a viewer to see them go, and on top of that, to know that I am one of the new people who will hopefully go on to be as popular. So yes, it's an enormous pressure to fill the void that they left behind.

What are your ambitions career-wise, short term and long term?
Short-term,I just want to contribute as much to the show as I possibly can. Longer term, I would love to work in theatre and stage, and film, of course. But this is my first role in television so I'm concentrating on this for now.

How do you feel about the prospect of doing publicity and becoming famous?
I haven't even really considered it yet. I guess it's exciting, but it's hard to comprehend. Even now, I'm still reading all the magazines and thinking 'wow, I met that person today, oh my God!'. It's hard for me to imagine that I will be in the magazines too, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Where does Dione end, and Madeline begin?
I find that we have lots of similarities. We're both playful and I think we both have a soft heart behind a mischievous exterior. Dione can also be very zany, and I find I am like that too, but only to a degree.

Are you very aware of the popularity of Neighbours in the UK?
Yes, definitely. I have a cousin who lives in the UK, and when they found out I was going to be on the show, it was on par with me being elected President of the United States or something. It was really huge. In fact, during my first day filming out at Ramsay Street, we has a bus load of UK tourists come past and they were all shouting out to us. It was quite surreal.

Have you any plans to go over there?
Actually, when I finished Year 12, I bought a ticket to go over and then I thought 'no, got to be practical, better stay here and study'. So I didn't go, but now that I am the show, I will have to go.

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