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A GREAT NEIGHBOUR; Soap stars pay tribute as TV favourite Helen dies at 68.

By THOMAS QUINN

TV colleagues paid tribute last night to Neighbours favourite Anne Haddy, who has died at 68 after a long battle with cancer and kidney disease.

Anne played Ramsay Street's gossiping gran Helen Daniels in the Australian soap for 13 years but bowed out after her health worsened in 1997.

Fans wept as Helen died on the show in an episode screened in Britain in May last year. And now Anne's own death at a private hospital in Melbourne has brought grief over the loss of the cast's longest serving member - the last of the original line-up.

Pop poppet Kylie Minogue, Anne's co-star from the first shows, said that she was saddened.

Kylie, who made her name as the show's teenage beauty Charlene, added: "It was a pleasure working with her on Neighbours and I learned so much from her.

"She was such a hard worker and an inspiration, a formidable presence on Australian television.

"Millions of viewers around the world will miss her. My thoughts are with her family."

The veteran actress, a mother of six, was married to actor James Condon.

Her friend and agent Philomena Moore said: "Anne was the most extraordinary woman.

"She was a great fighter and I think she had a enormous will to live. But she had been sick for such a long time."

Marvellous

Jesse Spencer, who plays Billy in Neighbours, said: "She was there from the start and helped me with my acting. We will all miss her very much."

Tom Oliver - Lou Carpenter in the soap - said: "To me, she was the first lady of television and always will be."

Neighbours producer Stanley Walsh said: "Anne set a marvellous example, not just on how to do the job, but with professional ethics as well."

Anne went into hospital with kidney trouble in 1997 after suffering a heart attack and being struck by stomach cancer.

She spoke bravely of her anguish at being forced to kill off her TV character in an episode shown in Australia the same year.

"It's been a huge decision for me,'' she said. "I've played Helen for such a large part of my life it's hard to leave her behind.''

At the time, former co-star Alan Dale, 51, who played Anne's screen son- in-law Jim Robinson, said of her departure: "It's the end of an era."

But her moving performance helped the soap to escape the axe.

And she was delighted to help the cast celebrate the 2,000th episode of Neighbours.
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Author:Quinn, Thomas
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 8, 1999
Words:418
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