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Billy love Victoria: TELLY TALK; Neighbour falls for Spice Girl.

Neighbours (BBC1, 1.40pm/5.35pm)

Pin-up Billy Kennedy's on-screen girlfriend Melissa is taking a break from Neighbours - but she had better get back soon.

For Jesse Spencer, who plays Billy in the Aussie soap, has fallen in love with a Spice Girl.

"I've seen them for the first time since coming to England this month and I'm completely smitten by Victoria. She's gorgeous." Jesse says.

Jesse, 17, was in the UK on the last leg of a month's holiday with his brother Luke.

"I can't imagine Billy taking off like that. He's much too much of a nerd to do anything adventurous and stray far from Erinsborough," he says.

"Billy is much more of a goody-goody than me. I sometimes think he's too good to be true."

But Jesse is glad Billy is starting to grow up at last. "I'm greatly relieved that he's given up tadpoles," he says.

Jesse has been enjoying his own voyage of discovery, which included four weeks travelling around Europe before arriving in the UK.

He even caught his first sight of snow - in Paris on Christmas Day - and made a pilgrimage to the London zebra crossing where his favourite group, The Beatles, were photographed for their Abbey Road album.

The highlight of the trip, though, was a visit to the seaside resort of Bournemouth

"We went down there to stay with some friends of the family and had a wild time. It's a really great place with lots of clubs and great people. I liked it a lot better than London," Jesse says.

Jesse flies back home to Melbourne today. He lives there with his parents, Luke, older brother Tarney and younger sister Polly, 14. When he arrives, it will be straight back to work - and school.

"It's tough sometimes having to do the show and keep up with my school work. It's like having two full-time jobs, but living at home makes life easier.

"And it means there's no chance of my getting big-headed about being on TV.

"Actually, my sister is the only one in the family who watches the show. She's a great fan and she's very keen on telling me where I go wrong."

Jesse's family originated in England - his great grandfather emigrated to Australia from Somerset to become a gold miner.

"Unfortunately he never made his fortune," says Jesse, who began his showbiz career singing with the Australian Boys' Choir.

His first TV appearance was when he was 14 and he sang on a televised talent show called Down Under.

He auditioned unsuccessfully once before to get a part in Neighbours.

"In 1994 I tried for the role of Brett Stark but they said I was too young.

"But I didn't give up. The next year I tried for Billy Kennedy and got lucky!"
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Grant, Brigit
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 20, 1997
Words:466
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