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Soap’s Real Cinderella Story (Article from an Irish Newspaper)

LUCKY: Madeline West

It was a case of beginner's luck for actress Madeline West who is currently making a name for herself as blonde bombshell Dione Bliss in antipodean soap Neighbours.

The 21-year-old's arrival on Ramsay Street was more down to chance than design as she landed the role of the young nurse, with a love of high jinks, at the very first audition.

“I've been in the show for just 12 months and it's been a bit of a Cinderella story,” admits West sitting in the bar of a London West End hotel during a flying visit to this country.

“I had just signed up to a new agent and two days later he called to say there was an audition for Neighbours. He wanted me to go along for the experience although neither of us expected anything to come of it.

“But I was lucky enough to land the part, which to start off was a guest role, then three months later I became one of the regular cast. It was amazing.”

After West got over the initial euphoria of landing the plum role she started to worry that she might have bitten off more than she could chew.

“Walking on the set for the first time was absolutely daunting,” she recalls. “My first scene was in a nightclub with Joel and Toadfish. To start off I thought I was being cool and collected about it all.

“I got to the set really early, then I spotted Joel and Toadfish. I just freaked out and spent the next 15 minutes hiding behind a pillar until they disappeared.

The actress says the first time she noticed her life was changing was when she ended up being followed round the supermarket by an awe-struck group of teenagers.

“Apart from being recognised in public, my life hasn't really altered a great deal. The Neighbours crew tend to stick together and socialise together because of the odd hours that we work.

West says it has been a steep learning curving since she first arrived in Ramsay Street.

“I had never done television before so I had no concept of how to even act in front of a camera let alone all the other technical details. But I do love it and I wouldn't swap my job for any other in the world.”

West is turning out to be a knockout actress in more ways than one – much to the surprise of one of her colleagues.

“I was doing a scene with Joel where I had just caught him and my best friend in the pool together,” she recalls. “I stormed off down Ramsay Street and he came chasing after me.

“He had to grab my arm and I was supposed to pull away yelling ‘don't you touch me' unfortunately during the sixth take I wrenched my arm away with a little bit more force than I had intended.

“I caught him square on the jaw the next thing I knew he was flat out on the grass. He couldn't talk or eat for two days because I had hit him that hard, I think it will go down as one of those television bloopers you see on out take shows,” she says laughing.

Born and raised in Country Victoria, New South Wales, West decided if she was serious about pursuing an acting career she would have to move. So at 16 she said goodbye to her family and moved to Melbourne.

Despite wanting a career on the stage, West enrolled for a law degree

“I wasn't sure how the acting career would work out so I thought I needed to have a practical career which would have a recognised qualification which I could take anywhere. Although I managed to complete my first year before getting the Neighbours job I knew it wouldn't be possible to carry on my studies.”

And it seems that West might get to be a real life Cinderella as she has her eyes set on the British stage.

“I'd love to do pantomime,” says West.

“This is my first trip to England and I've loved it. Fingers crossed I'll be back next year to do one.”

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