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`Boring' role forced Jesse to quit Neighbours - and the truth behind Star Wars rumours.

Byline: Roz Laws

NEIGHBOURS heart-throb Jesse Spencer has revealed why he quit the Australian soap.

The star decided to leave because his role became "boring and disappointing."

He has also revealed the truth behind the rumours linking him with the next Star Wars film.

Jesse was speaking on the eve of his first appearance on stage in the Midlands, in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre.

He left his role of Bill Kennedy behind last month, one of several cast members who are quitting.

He says: "I'd been in Neighbours for five years and I'd had enough. The storylines were boring and I wasn't enjoying it any more.

"When I said I was leaving, I hoped they would make Bill's departure interesting - but he just moves away from Erinsborough, there's no drama to it.

"It's disappointing and typical of the last two years of storylines. Bill's one-off relationship with Anne has been dragged out too long - they get back together and then split up again.

"The door has been left open for me to return but I won't - though I suppose I might if I haven't had any work for six months.

"I will miss some of the people I worked with, especially Jackie Woodburne and Alan Fletcher who play my parents."

Jesse will still be seen on screen in Britain until next summer. Also leaving the soap are Brooke Satchwell, who plays Anne, Jacinta Stapleton (Amy), Ailsa Piper (Ruth), Ian Rawlings (Phil) and Rebecca Ritters (Hannah).

Some of them are coming to Britain to star in pantomime, so Jesse won't be short of friends during his time in Wolverhampton. Other Neighbours stars treading the boards are the actors who play Amy, Madge, Harold, Paul, Joel and Phil.

Alan Fletcher (Karl) is also here and is planning to spend Christmas Day in Birmingham with relatives.

Jesse, who celebrates his 21st birthday in February during the panto run, says: "I expect I'll join Alan. I had heard of Birmingham when I was offered this job but I had no idea where Wolverhampton was. I had to look it up on the map.

"The Black Country accent is really strange. Before I arrived here I was in London for a week, where no-one recognised me because they rush around in blinkers.

"That's great for me, as I find British fans are full-on compared to those in Australia - you have some really strange girls here who are obsessed with Neighbours.

"I can't believe all the traffic here and the amount of people they cram into one place. But I love the British countryside and the history, all the big old castles. I'm looking forward to visiting Stratford-upon-Avon."

Jack and the Beanstalk, which runs from Thursday until February 27, is Jesse's second pantomime.

He hopes to do more theatre work, but a Hollywood career may have to wait, despite rumours that he is to play Anakin Skywalker in the next Star Wars film.

"I'd heard that I was having talks with Steven Spielberg but sadly it's rubbish. I would love to be in Star Wars as I'm a huge fan. I have the trilogy at home and I know almost every line."

CAPTION(S):

SOAP STAR... in Neighbours PANTO PLAYER... Jesse gets ready for the Jack and The Beanstalk panto at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, a month after quitting his role as Bill Kennedy in Neighbours
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 12, 1999
Words:565
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