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Todd's on his Travels

Farewell to Ramsay St!

'On The Box' - By Ian Wylie

Manchester Evening News Tuesday May 19th, 1998

When Darren Stark first showed up in Neighbours he came with a "bad boy" tag firmly attached. He was fresh out of jail after serving a sentence for armed robbery. And Darren's "jailbreak" proved to be the big break for actor Todd MacDonald, giving him his first television acting role.

He is now one of the best known faces on Ramsay Street - although he may not be living in Erinsborough, the fictional suburb of Melbourne much longer.

No worries for Todd's fans, however because although he is leaving the daytime soap, which celebrates its 3,000th episode tommorow, there is no untimely death or tragic accident awaiting him.

Instead he will simply pack his bag and set off on a trip to see the world. For the 24-year-old actor it's the case of fact following fiction, as in real life he is currently globe-trotting.

Todd is enjoying taking time out to travel, and although his trademark 1970s haircut has been replaced by a shorter crop and goatee beard, he is still instantly recognisable, In fact he gets a few awkward stares from the bar staff in a north London pub who can't make up their minds whether they should speak or not.

Then one brave person makes the first move. "Have you finished with your glass Darren?" Oh well, perhaps Ramsay Street seems like a real place to some people.

So how did Todd end up saying g'day to his Ramsay Street neighbours in the first place? "I did a cattle call audition in Sydney, and there were recalls from there," he says. "Then they flew us down to Melbourne and whittled it down to about five people. I was lucky enough to get it. I've done about 20 months in Neighbours.

"When Darren first appeared he had just finished serving time for an armed robbery.

"That was part of the attraction of the character for me. He had an interesting background."

He'd spent the previous 12 months working in theatre and being between jobs.

"I spent a year working in bars and doing the odd acting job here and there. I did a play at the end of the year, then I landed the job in Neighbours and moved over to Melbourne."

Although Neighbours has a substantial audience in Australia, it doesn't enjoy the popularity which it has in Britain.

Todd says: "I always knew it was successful over here. But as you talk to people involved with the show, you come to realise how big it is in the UK and other countries in Europe. It's quite phenomenal. It's mainly watched by teenagers back home."

And do Neighbours end up becoming good friends? "You do get on fairly well. When I was there it was a really good group of people."

Although he was a popular character, Todd found he didn't command the fan worship which some of the soap's younger stars attracted.

"I used to get a bit of fan mail - a few letters a week. But some characters like Billy and Sarah get sackloads."

Although he will be driving off into the sunset, the door has been left open for Todd's return - should he wish to.

"I'm taking six months off travelling round Canada, UK and Europe. I'm doing a play in Sydney in August. It's set in London, about a boy who comes over here to try and see the Queen - so I'll be doing some research!"