SHE CAME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER
She won a legion of fans as the soap legend and icon that was the gravel voiced down to earth Madge in Neighbours, a roll she can never quite shake off! She has been a serial soap hopper on both sides of the globe and she has treated us to Fairies, Wicked Queens and a few Empresses of China as she has dedicated many a Christmas period to treading the board in UK panto. With over 20 pantos under her belt we are proud to welcome Anne Charleston as the first lady of our Hall of Fame.
“I’m an actress and actresses need to work. If we’re offered something and the conditions are right we do it”
Anne Charleston was born 30th December 1942 in Melbourne Australia. Possibly her best known television role is at the no nonsense gravel voiced Madge in the Australian Soap Neighbours. On stage, in addition to her long list of panto appearances Anne has also appeared in productions of The Calendar Girls, Steel Magnolias and The Cemetery Club. In 1992 Anne emigrated to the Republic of Ireland although she would make regular visits back to Australia.
In 1979 Anne made her first of 3 appearances in the Australian Soap Prisoner (Cell Block H), initially playing Lorraine Watkins the heartless daughter of popular inmate Mum Brooks. She would only appear in 3 episodes and when the character was to return some time later for another short stint sadly Anne was busy with other work and the role was recast. Ann would however make her way back in to the series for a further 3 episodes playing a policewoman in 1983. Saving the best for last Anne was back in Prisoner in 1984 for a much longer stint, this time she found herself on the wrong side of the bars playing socialite Deidre Keane, the mother of troubled Reb Keane (Played by Anne's Neighbours co-star Janet Andrewartha).
In 1985 Anne would make her next soap appearance, this time in Possession, another soap opera made by the Reg Grundy Organisation. It was the brainchild of the television producer Reg Watson and the pilot was written by Bevan lee and Don Battye. The series began with a convoluted espionage incident that uncovered the interpersonal dramas and family secrets of several wealthy, powerful and glamorous women, their handsome young lovers, and long-lost children. The cast also included Alan Dale, Briony Behets, Ally Fowler and Maggie Dence, all of whom would later work with Anne on Neighbours.Other stars included Maggie Millar, Norman Yemm, David Reyne and Lynn Collingwood It was not a popular success and only ran to 52 episodes.
in 1986 Anne made her first appearance as Madge Mitchell (later to be known as Madge Ramsey and then Madge Bishop) a role that she would make very much her own and became famed for playing. She appeared from 1986 -1992 and again from 1996 - 2000 with a brief return in 2015. Anne played the screen mother to Kylie Minogue’s character Charlene and formed a unique onscreen partnership with her screen husband Harold played by her close friend Ian Smith. Despite being seen to die on screen in 2001 in Neighbours at the end of her second stint with the show,she would go on to reprise this role briefly in 2015 playing a figment of her husband Harold’s imagination and this return was as part of a celebration of 21 years of the soap, and although she never says never this does feel like the book on her time as Madge is now firmly closed
In 1989 Anne Charleston would make a memorable guest appearance on The Dame Edna Experience. Dame Edna regularly had her side kick Madgle Allsop (Emily Perry) appear and for this episode Madge appeared with her face heavily bandaged for most of the episode following plastic surgery and when it came to the big reveal it was a much younger Madge, to everyone's surprise now in the guise of Anne Charleston's Madge from NeIghbours character.
In 2002 Anne appeared as Dossa in the bittersweet Australian comedy series Dossa and Joe. The series was written by Caroline Aherne who had already created comedy shows such as Mrs Merton and The Royle Family in the UK. The series centres on a working class couple called Dossa and Joe. When Joe retires from his job as a factory worker, the couple realises they know little about each other despite being married 40 years. Against Joe's wishes, the couple begin marriage counselling. The series also starred Michael Caton and Jeannie Drynan.
The series failed to earn good ratings and was not renewed for a second series.
2003 saw Anne in the UK to appear in a revival of the cult soap Crossroads. She played head of house keeping Betty Waddle. Sadly with very few links to the original series this revial was not to last and was slammed by critics as ratings fell. Other cast members included Jane Asher, Jane Gurnett, John Bowler, Roger Sloman, Cindy Marshall Day, Colin Wells and Sherrie Hewson. The final storyline of the series saw the entire revial series being wrapped up as being simply a dream! We think they may have taken inspiration from Dallas on this one.
From 2006-2009 Anne appeared in the UK soap Emmerdale a Lily Butterfield. In September 2006, it was announced that Anne had joined the cast of Emmerdale as Edna Birch's estranged sister, Anne was due to appear in three episodes in November of that year with a potential longer run to follow. Charleston said that she was "over the moon" to be joining the cast. Lily first appeared at her great nieces wedding. In March 2007, Charleston was asked to return to the show after her first appearance was deemed a success. Of her return, Charleston said "I'm thrilled to have been asked back and am looking forward to working with Shirley Stelfox again. It will be interesting to discover more about Lily’s background and character this time around, and I am excited to see where writers take me." Charleston began filming her new scenes in the Summer.
Charleston quit her role in April 2009 and her character was written out in August. Charleston said that she had enjoyed playing Lily, but it was now time to move on and she has not made any return visits to the series.
In 2011 Anne would have guest appearance in Holby City and Justin's House and in 2012 she had appearances in Doctors and Wentworth.
In 2012 Anne would try her hand in the kitchen as she took part in the BBC TV series Celebrity Masterchef where she competed against Cheryl Baker, Jenny Eclair, Javine Hylton, Gareth Gates and Zoe Salmon to name a few.
In 2018 Anne would make appearances on Loose Women and also Top of The Box
1988 Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy at the Oxford Apollo with Alvin Stardust
1989 Dick Whittington at the Davenport Theatre in Stockport with Ian Smith
1990 Dick Whittington at the Brighton Dome with Ian Smith
1991 Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Nottingham
1992 Dick Whittington as Fairy at the Theatre Royal Hanley with Ian Smith
1993 Cinderella as Fairy at the Grand Opera House York
1995 Aladdin at the Grand Opera House Belfast
1996 Sleeping Beauty as Fairy at the Epsom Playhouse
1997 Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother at the Woodville Gravesend
1998 Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy at Porthcawl Pavilion
1999 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the Wicked Queen at the Weston Super Mare Playhouse
2000 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the Wicked Queen at the Harlequin Theatre Redhill
2001 Dick Whittington as Fairy at the Grand Opera House York with Jean Ferguson
2003 Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy at the Mansfield Palace Nottingham with Bodger & Badger
2004 Jack and the Beanstalk as Fairy at the Anvil Theatre Basingstoke with Tony Scannell
2005 Mother Goose as Fairy at the Theatre Royal Bath with Chris Harris
2006 Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood at the Bournemouth Pavilion with Thomas Craig
2007 Dick Whittington as Fairy at the Grand Theatre Swansea with Ray Meagher
2009 Cinderella as Fairy at the Marina Theatre Lowestoft with Dave Benson Phillips
2010 Aladdin as the Empress of China at the Princess Theatre Torquay with Simon Grant
2011 Aladdin as the Empress of China at the Hexagon Theatre Reading
2014 Cinderella at the Palace Theatre Redditch