Michala Banas steps in as "Libby" on Neighbours

Michala Banas was happily enjoying her day when her agent rang with an unusual proposition.

"She said 'Would you be interested in doing Neighbours?' And I said, 'Well what's the role, for how long?' and she said 'They haven't really gone into detail, they just wondered if you were free?'"

As it turns out, it was an emergency casting call, to temporarily replace actress Kym Valentine who had suddenly taken ill with pneumonia. Producer Susan Bower, who had worked with Banas on McLeod's Daughters, rang and explained the predicament to her. They desperately needed someone with a similar look, age and ability as Valentine.

"So how could I refuse, it's such an unusual situation!" she said.

Once she agreed to the role, everything was fast-tracked for Banas -- with such integral storylines for the character of Libby, producers had no alternative.

"I had to do a fair amount of research in the four days' notice I had," she said.

"Kym made lunch for me on the Sunday before we started filming, and we just went through everything and had a chat about the storyline. I wanted her to feel part of the process as well.

"She wasn't on her death bed, she was just in a cycle of getting sick and getting better, so to recuperate properly they felt it was best for her health to have that solid time off."

Banas says the cast of the TEN soap were especially supportive of the challenge.

"I had to build 14-year relationships in the spate of five minutes. I had parents, a child, a fiancé, the whole kit and caboodle! To build those relationships quickly you need other people to be as receptive to it as possible, and they were. They were so good to me."

Banas begins her block on air on Tuesday, November 11, which sees her through to the year's cliffhanger. She hopes viewers will be open to the idea of a "new Libby," even if she's only a temporary one.

"I think initially it will be tough. They'll probably go 'who's this chick, she's not as good as Kym?' Which is completely understandable."

"Hopefully within a week or so they'll adjust."

Neighbours airs 6:30pm weeknights on TEN.

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I haven't watched the show for years but I'm sure Libby was in even from when I was in school and that was more than 10 years ago. I've not seen this new Libby yet but I'm curious now. Surely they could have just had the character go away for a while but I guess they prob had all these storylines written and because its a soap its more difficult to change it at the last moment.
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I HATE the new libby, it just isnt' the same anymore, i watched one episode. and she just doesn't fit the role, and she doesn't even look like her, i mean they could have just kept the old libby, and reduced her lines or something, i just really dont like her. Kim was better.
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Why do I suddenly get all this aussie news in Sweden??
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I remember when they did this once before with a character called Cheryl is was really weird.
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Huh? That's gonna be really weird. Are they going to do it properly or just shoot from weird angles so we only see the back of her head?
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That's unusual, don't they just write them out for a while?
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