08 September 2012

Neighbours: Vivean Gray On Mrs Mangel

Mrs Mangel, all ready for another day as housekeeper at Lassiters.

Claire writes:

I think Mrs Mangel in Neighbours was fabulous, and I've read that some viewers took the brilliant portrayal of this character too seriously, resulting in hassle for actress Vivean Gray and Mrs Mangel's departure for England. Do you know how Vivean Gray felt about Mrs Mangel?

I share your admiration for Mrs Mangel, Claire.

English-born actress Vivean Gray was no stranger to playing gossips - she was Ida Jessup in the Australian wartime saga, The Sullivans. But she believed that there was one important difference between her two gossipy characters:

"... Jessup had saving graces, she would help people. Mangel is mean and bitchy."

Of course, Mrs Mangel was not originally intended to be a permanent Ramsay Street local. Vivean Gray in another 1980s interview:

"Mangel was only supposed to be around for three weeks, but I think people like watching her. I think they say, 'Isn't she dreadful? Thank goodness she doesn't live near me!' "

Analysing the character, Miss Gray said:

"The Mrs Mangels of this world are people who are disappointed in themselves. Perhaps they are lonely, too. At any rate, they can't adapt to a changing society. Such people need counselling."

A great shame her time in Neighbours was so brief (1986-1988) - but what a legend the character is!

Mrs Mangel did, of course, have a great friend in Eileen Clarke (Myra De Groot) for most of her time in Ramsay Street.

Did you know that Myra (who, like Vivean Gray, was born in England) first went to live in Australia in 1980? A short time after her arrival, Myra appeared as Laura Watkins, the sister of Vivean Gray's character Ida Jessup, in The Sullivans.

Of course, Eileen and Nell's friendship in Neighbours has gone down in soap history as being one of the funniest ever! Whether it was Eileen seeking comfort over her "wayward" son Desmond, Mrs Mangel reading the tea leaves, or the latest juicy piece of gossip leading to terrible confusion, these ladies were wonderful to watch!

Eileen Clarke and Nell Mangel joined the local bowling club in 1987.

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