|Portrayed by||Natalie Imbruglia|
|First appearance||6 January 1992|
|Last appearance||29 August 1994|
|Introduced by||Don Battye (1992)
Stanley Walsh (1994)
Elizabeth "Beth" Willis (née Brennan) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Natalie Imbruglia. She made her debut screen appearance in the episode broadcast on 6 January 1992. She married Brad Willis in 1993, and the couple left Erinsborough for Perth. Behind the scenes Imbruglia quit the serial. Beth returned briefly in 1994 for the naming day of Brad's nephew, Zac Willis.
Imbruglia was sixteen when she auditioned for and was cast in the role of Beth. Imbruglia later revealed that she was asked to parade up and down in a bikini during her audition and it left her with a fear of disrobing for the cameras. The actress had to relocate from Sydney to Melbourne for filming. Imbruglia's character was initially written into the show for just a few weeks and she had to wait two months to find out whether she would become a permanent cast member. Imbruglia told a reporter for Inside Soap "It was eight weeks of sheer torture. Every time the phone rang my nerves jangled, too. When my agent finally called to break the news, she knew how nervous I was so she told me to get a chair and sit down." Imbruglia's agent told her that the show's producers wanted to sign her for a year and she believed the permanent position would allow her to prove herself.
Imbruglia found being a celebrity uncomfortable and when she became disappointed by the scripts given to her, she asked the producers to write her out. Imbruglia was asked to take part in the show's 20th anniversary celebrations, but she declined. When asked about a return to Neighbours she said "I'll always be grateful to the show for launching my career, but I wouldn't want to revisit that time."
Beth is "Country girl" at heart, she went on a journey during her time in the serial. Beth came to Ramsay Street in search of a new life, having been abused by her stepfather. She has been described as a "principled and sweet-natured girl". She was portrayed as a virgin desperate to shed her innocence after Annalise Hartman's (Kimberley Davies) harsh words. She came across as over keen and desperate, on different occasions asked Brad Willis to sleep with her, later begging him to stay with her. She also didn't fit the female stereo-type and worked in the construction business, in the show she faced prejudice from male employer who would not offer her an apprenticeship.
Beth's main relationship was with Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson), their relationship was a long-running storyline, it started when Brad was dating Lucy Robinson (Melissa Bell), Beth was filled with jealousy, she showed her strong side of her personality when she began competing with Lucy for Brad's affections. Brad later had an affair with Lauren Carpenter (Sarah Vandenbergh) and Beth could not forgive him and left him on his wedding day. Beth and Brad are two characters that knew they were no good for each other (acknowledging the fact on-screen). Through Brad, Beth was portrayed at times begging and pleading for him to stay with her. they later get married and leave the serial.
Beth was born in the countryside, she grew up with her brother David (Simon Stokes). Beth's father died when she was young and her mother, Phyllis "Bunny" Brennan (Jan Huggett) was left to raise them alone. When Beth was sixteen, her mother started a relationship with a new man, Ken Lawson, and he eventually moved in with the family. He started to sexually abuse Beth, so she and David fled to start a new life elsewhere.
Whilst in surfers paradise Beth meets Brad Wilis, Lucy Robinson and Josh Anderson (Jeremy Angerson). Josh and Brad try to win Beth's affections, but she turns them down because of her lack of trust in males. Bunny arrives and takes Beth and David home. Beth later visits Lucy in Ramsay Street. She decides to stay after she falls in love with Brad. Lucy then decides she loves Brad too, Brad chooses Lucy leaving Beth upset.
Beth starts working in the Coffee Shop but she decides it isn't the right job for her. She starts working as an apprentice builder with Brad's father Doug (Terence Donovan). Beth then finds it hard to cope working with so many males, she thinks about leaving the job and it is made worse when Buzz Wade (Brett Swain) starts bullying her. However Beth decides to carry on and proves everyone wrong.
Beth leaves to see Bunny marry Ken Lawson, when she returns to Ramsay Street, Beth shocks her friends by revealing she is engaged to Rod Baker (Chris Lloyds) who was in his forties. Everyone thinks the relationship is moving to fast and refused to accept Rod because he is twice her age. Beth ignores their worries but when Rod wants to take their relationship to the next level Beth realises she isn't ready to sleep with anyone yet, citing her abuse as a child as the cause of this. Rod is annoyed and doesn't want to be with her and leaves Ramsay Street.
Lucy decides she wants to be a model and leaves. Brad is left devastated, but Beth sees it as her opportunity to be with him, but he just wants to be friends. Beth begs Brad to sleep with her, claiming it shall be easier with him and wants her first time to be with someone she trusts, he turns her down. Whilst out working for Doug, Brad and Beth are forced to share a caravan for the night. They end up sleeping together. They fall in love and start a relationship. As their relationship progresses they decide to become engaged.
After living with the Robinsons for a while, Julie Martin (Julie Mullins) returns, so Beth decides to go and live with Cameron Hudson (Benjamin Grant Mitchell). They are evicted and have to move in with Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver), where Beth becomes good friends with Lauren. Lauren, Beth and Brad start to spend lots of time together. Beth is unaware that Lauren and Brad have become more than just friends and are sleeping together. Bunny arrives and takes a dislike to Brad, but chose to give him a chance for Beth's sake. On her wedding day Beth began to suspect that something was going on between Brad and Lauren, when she asks him, Brad comes clean about their affair. Beth decides she cannot stay and flees to work for her mum on her farm.
Beth later decides to return to Ramsay Street to get her life back together. She acknowledges her love for Brad but states she will never be able to trust him again. She decides to move in with Mark Gottlieb (Bruce Samazan), Philip Martin (Ian Rawlings) splits up with Julie. Beth and Philip begin a relationship but Philip's daughters Hannah (Rebecca Ritters) and Debbie (Marnie Reece-Wilmore) do not approve of their relationship and try and make it hard for them. Philip later realises he is still in love with Julie and he returns to her after splitting with Beth. Beth then has a short-lived relationship with Wayne Duncan (Jonathan Sammy-Lee).
Lucy returns and decides to try to get Brad and Beth back together. They avoid each other and deny they want to get back together. As time goes by many of their friends try to convince them to reconcile, in the end they get back together. They decide to try to get married once again. The Willis family are delighted by their plans and everyone helps organise their wedding. On their wedding day they decide to start a new life else where, they marry in a registry office and afterwards they get on a bus leaving Ramsay Street. Their parents track them down after following the bus but Brad and Beth do not tell them they are already married. They then return to the street and have a second ceremony at Number 26. Brad and Beth then leave for their new life in Perth. Beth returns the following year to visit Brad's nephew, Zac (Jay Callahan). Brad and Beth later divorce and Brad moves back to Erinsborough in 2013, along with his new wife and their two children.
British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, included Imbruglia and Beth in their Top five ex-'Neighbours' stars list in 2002. In 2010, to celebrate Neighbours' 25th anniversary, British satellite broadcasting company Sky profiled 25 characters of which they believed were the most memorable in the series history. Beth is in the list and describing they state: "Beth was something of a retread of Charlene – she was a tomboy, eventually becoming a builder's apprentice; her young love with the hunk du jour made her well loved; and she left the show to pursue a music career (well, playing Torn until the end of time). Beth and Brad were an inevitable, sunny couple who positively radiated vitamins, but let's not forget the brief period she dated a recently bereaved Phil on some paddleboats." They describe her most memorable scenes as being Contending with the sexist atmosphere at her building job; her brief relationship with Phil and marrying surfer Brad. Channel 5's Holy Soap website said Imbruglia "melted hearts as dungarees-wearing Beth Brennan".
- Monroe 1994, p.125.
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- Mercado, Andrew, p.218
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