Ex Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard blames Neighbours for ignorance of country's culture

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Ex Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard blames Neighbours for ignorance of country's culture
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Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has criticised Neighbours, claiming it has left British people ignorant of her country's culture.

The long-running soap has been a staple of UK TV for decades and helped to start the careers of Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie and many others.

However, Gillard – who is Australia's first female leader and was in power between 2010 and 2013 – suggested that the soap had negatively shaped UK citizens' perceptions of the nation.

Photo credit: ENDEMOL/Channel 5
Photo credit: ENDEMOL/Channel 5

Related: 11 huge Neighbours spoilers for next week

"I think it does get very frustrating for Australians when you're confronted in the UK with an image of your country that's been developed from watching Neighbours," she told the BBC's Inside Culture (via iNews).

"As proud as we are of Kylie and the crew, it's sort of frozen in time and you just want to, say yes, but can we talk about the rest of it? Because you feel held back."

Photo credit: Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool - Getty Images

Related: Neighbours' Terese and Paul clash over Harlow in 9 new spoiler pictures

As part of the programme, Cate Blanchett also weighed in, criticising UK prime minister Boris Johnson over stereotypical Australian food references while agreeing a trade deal with the country, labelling it "nostalgic".

"I first came to the UK in the 90s and I was expecting an advanced, perhaps more sophisticated understanding of one another's cultures," she said.

"And I was quite shocked that those very clichés we see in those baskets were alive and well, when in fact they weren't really representative of either of our cultures."

Photo credit: Dave J Hogan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dave J Hogan - Getty Images

However, comedian Tim Minchin countered the arguments, saying: "I don't look right for Neighbours, and [in Australia] people would come and see my shows and go, 'We should talk,' and that would sort of be it. Whereas when I got here, everyone just went, 'You're a thing, you're a real thing.'

"I feel more an intellectual being over [in the UK], as in I have met some of my great intellectual heroes and been treated as an equal and been taken seriously. And it's given me self-esteem about my work."

Neighbours is set to air a special UK-set storyline in 2022 as Harlow Robinson visits London, with British stars such as Amanda Holden and Sophie Ellis-Bextor set to appear.

Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 (UK) and Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach (Australia).

Read more Neighbours spoilers on our dedicated homepage

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