|Portrayed by||Kylie Minogue|
|First appearance||17 April 1986|
|Last appearance||26 July 1988|
|Created by||Reg Watson|
|Introduced by||Reg Watson|
|Occupation||Student (until 1986)
Charlene Edna Robinson (née Mitchell) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours played by Kylie Minogue. She made her first screen appearance on 17 April 1986 when she came to join her mother Madge in Ramsay Street. Charlene was a tomboy and later worked as a Mechanic. Her storylines included her romance with Scott Robinson, trying to launch a singing career, bringing her half-brother home and her wedding, which was watched by 20 million viewers in the UK. Minogue decided to leave Neighbours in 1988 to pursue a music career. After accepting an apprenticeship in Brisbane, Charlene departed on 26 July 1988. During her time on the show, Minogue won four Logie Awards for her portrayal of Charlene. In May 2010, Minogue mentioned in an interview that she would like to make a brief return to Neighbours.
When Neighbours began airing on Network Ten in 1986, it initially attracted low ratings and Ten began working hard to publicise the series. They revamped the show and added several new, younger cast members including Minogue who joined the show in April. Minogue had starred in the television dramas Skyways, alongside Jason Donovan, and The Henderson Kids before she successfully auditioned for the role Charlene. Minogue was signed for Neighbours for one week, she was then offered a 12 week contract and later a contract through to mid-1988.
Minogue ventured into music during her time on the show, and in 1988 after filming the movie The Delinquents, Minogue decided to leave Neighbours to concentrate on her music career. In 2005, Neighbours celebrated its 20th Anniversary and it was reported that Minogue had been invited to film a cameo in the special 20th anniversary episode. It was further reported that while Minogue was willing to film an appearance as Charlene, the producers had rejected her offer. However, in a statement from Grundy Television, the producers claimed that they had made "every effort to accommodate Minogue" and that their offer was declined.
In May 2010, Minogue pondered a return to Neighbours during an interview with The Sun newspaper. Minogue said "The other day I thought how much fun it would be to do it after years of saying never". She added "I've decided how it would work. Charlene would screech up the drive in her souped-up Mini which she's been working on all the time". Following the interview, executive producer, Susan Bower announced that Minogue is welcome to make a return to the show. In a statement, Bower said "Kylie can arrive in a Mini, in a hot-air balloon or even parachute, anyway she desires, we would welcome her with open arms".
Charlene was described as being a "girl-next-door" and "every man's dream mechanic". She was often known for wearing her trademark dungarees with her hair set in a perm. The Daily Mail said this look "launched her into the public eye". The Independent said Minogue's "elfin prettiness" won Charlene a huge following in Australia and Britain. In the book "Neighbours: The first 10 years", Charlene is described in detail, they say she has a feisty side, which was part of her popularity. She is a self-described "tomboy" and prefers to be called "Lenny", she isn't afraid to confront people as she has a sharp tongue, she always is seen wearing her khaki overalls. Minogue described her character as an "average teenager growing up, having difficulties with her mother". She added that Charlene is "a bit of a rebel" and an outspoken tomboy.
Charlene Mitchell was born in Coffs Harbour to Fred (Nick Waters) and Madge Mitchell (Anne Charleston) in 1969 and she is the younger sister of Henry (Craig McLachlan). Charlene grew up into a rebellious tomboy who was the apple of her father's eye. Charlene often visited her uncle Max Ramsay (Francis Bell) and his family in Erinsborough and she became with friends Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan). Charlene lost her virginity to her boyfriend Greg Davis (Alex Papps) and she fell pregnant, but Charlene made the decision to have an abortion. Her parents divorced after Fred had an affair with a younger woman, Susan Cole (Gloria Ajenstat), and Madge decided to move to Ramsay Street. Charlene stayed behind in Coff's Harbour, but when she and her father began to fight, she decided to move to Erinsborough.
On her arrival in Ramsay Street, Charlene finds no one at home and she decided to climb through a window. Scott Robinson mistakes her for a robber and tries to stop her and Charlene punches him. Once Scott realises his mistake, he and Charlene remember their mutual attraction towards each other. Charlene moves in with Madge at No.24 and she and Scott begin dating. As their relationship continues, Scott puts pressure on Charlene to have sex with him and when she agreed, they booked a room at Lassiter's hotel. Charlene then tells Scott about her first sexual relationship with Greg back home. Scott is upset that Charlene is not a virgin and leaves the hotel, leaving her upset. After he talks through his problems with his older brother, Paul (Stefan Dennis), Scott apologises to Charlene.
When Charlene returns home with a newborn baby, she claims the child is her son. Madge is shocked and hurt that Charlene had hid the pregnancy from her and so is Scott. Madge then gets used to the idea of being a grandmother, however, Charlene reveals that the baby, Sam (Thomas Hamston; Scott Wealands), is actually her half-brother. Charlene agrees to care for the baby, after Fred walked out on Susan. Madge feels sorry for Susan and Sam and invites them to live with her and Charlene. Scott and Mike Young (Guy Pearce) decide to record a music demo to send to various record producers and Scott asks Charlene to do backing vocals. Scott isn't happy when the record producer, Molly Meldrum arrives in Ramsay Street looking to sign Charlene. Charlene agrees to go and see if she likes the recording industry, but when she got to the studios she realises she isn't interested and decides to complete Year 12 instead. Scott realises that he has been jealous of Charlene's talent and apologises to her.
During a split from Scott, Charlene begins dating Warren Murphy (Ben Mendelsohn). Charlene and Warren begin drinking and stay out late at parties, Madge argues with Charlene and tells her to pack her bags and leave. Charlene moves into a caravan by Lassiter's lake, but the caravan later bursts into flames. Scott and Paul save Charlene and she reunites with Scott and returns home to Madge. After completing her exams, Charlene chooses to become a mechanic, but finds it difficult to get an apprenticeship in Erinsborough. Max finds her one in Brisbane and Madge tries to get Charlene to take the opportunity. However, Charlene knows that taking the job will mean leaving Scott behind, but she eventually decides to take the job. When the comes for her to leave, Charlene realises she cannot leave Scott and decides to stay. Soon after, Charlene is offered an apprenticeship by Rob Lewis (Ernie Bourne) at his garage.
Charlene and Scott decide they wanted to move in together, but Madge and Scott's father, Jim (Alan Dale) are against the idea and try to stop them. Scott's grandmother, Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) and Charlene's brother, Henry support the couple and try to get Madge and Jim to change their minds. Scott then decides that the only way he and Charlene can be together was through marriage and One day at the garage, Scott interrupts Charlene and proposes to her. Charlene immediately accepts and they become engaged. Madge and Jim give them their blessings and Jim give Charlene his late wife Anne's gold cross and chain. Charlene is happy when Henry and Madge give her the wedding dress she had longed for, but couldn't afford. Charlene and Scott finally marry in a fairytale ceremony surrounded by family and friends. The couple move in with Madge and Henry, but struggle to make ends meet and Charlene is forced to work at the Coffee Shop to help support them. The couple's marriage faces a problem when Scott kisses Charlene's best friend, Jane Harris (Annie Jones). Jane tells Charlene about the kiss and Charlene angrily throws Scott out of the house. They separate for a month, during which various family members try to get the couple reconciled. Finally, Charlene and Scott get back together and Charlene even forgave Jane.
Charlene finds herself attracted to her driving instructor, Steve Fisher (Michael Pope). After passing her test, Charlene kisses Steve and begins to spend more time with him. However, Charlene confesses to Scott about the kiss and he moves out of their room. They eventually make up and decide to look for their own place. Charlene's grandfather Dan, (Syd Conabere) visits the couple and to tell them he has bought a house for them in Brisbane. Charlene and Scott are happy and begin making plans to move up north, but Scott is unable to get a transfer from his job and does not want to risk losing out on his dream of being a journalist. The couple then decide that Charlene should go to Brisbane, while Scott waits for a transfer. Charlene says a sad goodbye to her family and friends and drove out of Ramsay Street for a new start in Brisbane and Scott joins her the following year. A few years later, Charlene gives birth to a son, Daniel and a daughter, Madison.
Minogue won 'Most Popular Actress' at the 1987 Logie Awards for her role as Charlene and was also nominated for 'Most Popular New Talent'. A year later, she became the youngest person, at nineteen, to be awarded a Gold Logie for 'Most Popular Personality'. She also won Logies for 'Most Popular Personality On Victorian Television' and 'Most Popular Actress'. In 1989, Minogue's final year on Neighbours, she was nominated again for 'Most Popular Personality'.
Scott and Charlene's wedding was seen by 20 million viewers in the United Kingdom and was voted the 'Most Romantic TV Nuptials of all Time'. The wedding episode made the cover of TIME magazine Australia and Minogue and Donovan's promotional appearance at the Westfield Parramatta shopping centre caused a stampede among 4000 people. In October 2006, the Australia Post brought out five stamps celebrating 50 years of television. Network Ten's stamp featured both Minogue and Donovan as Charlene and Scott.
Ruth Deller of television website Lowculture gave Charlene a 5 out of 5 for her contribution to Neighbours, during a feature called "A guide to recognising your Ramsays and Robinsons". Deller called Charlene "The first of many feisty female mechanics in the show". She added "Charlene arrived as a teenager, and her opening scene was, memorably, being caught sneaking into the Ramsay house via the window. She'd been a bit of a tearaway teen, having a teen pregnancy and abortion before arriving on Ramsay Street, but a romance with Scott Robinson mellowed her somewhat".
In 2010, British satellite broadcasting company BSkyB profiled twenty-five characters of which they believed were the most memorable in the series history to celebrate Neighbours' 25th anniversary. Charlene is in the list and describing her they state: "Charlene was only in the show for two years, but she remains one of the iconic characters because (a) she's Kylie Blooming Minogue, and (b) she married Jason 'Scott Robinson' Donovan. Charlene's name has become the by-word for girl-next-door characters in Soapland, thanks to her tireless efforts to promote the cause of denim dungarees while working as a mechanic, and as a crucial member of the most successful set of teens that Ramsay Street has seen." British tabloid The Daily Mirror branded Charlene a "tomboy grease monkey".
In her book "Soap opera", Dorothy Hobson describes Charlene as breaking the stereotype of what careers were suitable for females, stating: "The sight of one of the most attractive female characters, dressed in overalls, with her cascading blonde curls tied up on top of her head, was one of the most positive images for breaking the stereotypes of what jobs are suitable for girls" She also praised her on-screen relationship with Scott branding the positive images for young people as immense. In 2011, Charlene's wedding to Scott was placed third in Channel 5's "Greatest TV Weddings" programme.
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