Daniel Robinson (Neighbours)
|Portrayed by||Tim Phillipps|
|First appearance||29 April 2014|
|Introduced by||Jason Herbison|
|Occupation||Hotel staff (2014)
Bar manager (2014–)
|Home||32 Ramsay Street|
Daniel Robinson is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Tim Phillipps. Daniel was created in 1992 as the son of iconic Neighbours couple Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue). He was occasionally referred to in the episodes since then, but never seen on-screen. At the end of 2013, it was announced that Daniel would be introduced as a new family member for Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis). Auditions were held for the role, with producers stating that the actor would need to resemble his on-screen parents. During the casting process, Phillipps was approached for the role and, following a chemistry read with Dennis, was given the part. He had previously appeared in Neighbours in 2007. Phillipps relocated to Melbourne for filming and was initially contracted for 12 months. He made his first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 29 April 2014.
Daniel is portrayed as a happy-go-lucky, easy-going, hippy. He wants to make the most out of life and is a keen photographer, skateboarder and surfer. Phillipps used traits from his own personality to flesh out the character. Daniel came to Erinsborough to see where his parents fell in love and decided to stay for his uncle. Phillipps stated that Paul and Daniel have a great relationship, as they both want to be good influences on each other. Daniel's first major storyline was a love triangle involving himself, Amber Turner (Jenna Rosenow) and Josh Willis (Harley Bonner). Daniel and Amber later became engaged. Daniel's past was explored a little further when his ex-girlfriend Rain Taylor (Airlie Dodds) was introduced towards the end of 2014. Other storylines have seen Daniel manipulated by Dakota Davies (Sheree Murphy) and kissed by his friend Imogen Willis (Ariel Kaplan). The character has received mixed reviews from critics.
Creation and casting
Daniel is the son of iconic Neighbours couple Charlene (Kylie Minogue) and Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan), who departed the show in 1988 and 1989 respectively. He was created as an off-screen character in 1992. He was occasionally mentioned in episodes since then, but never appeared on-screen. Daniel's arrival was first teased by executive producer Jason Herbison in November 2013, who said a new family member for Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) would be introduced the following year. The character's arrival was officially confirmed on 2 December and the casting department began auditions for the role, with producers stating that he would need to resemble his screen parents. Dennis said the process was long as everyone wanted to find the right actor for the part. Dennis was "heavily involved" in the casting. He explained that as Daniel was an important character, "they wanted to get it right with looks, with acting ability and most importantly the chemistry between Paul and Daniel."
After the role was cast, producers planned to reveal the actor during his first episode broadcast in Australia. However, on 20 April 2014, a reporter for The Australian confirmed that actor Tim Phillipps had been cast in the role. Phillipps previously appeared in Neighbours in 2007, as Fox, a figment of Paul's imagination. Phillipps was cast shortly after returning from the United States where he was working for three-and-a-half years. He was approached for the part after he sent a tape to Melbourne, where Neighbours is filmed. He met with the producers and did "a chemistry read" with Dennis. He was offered the role shortly after. Phillipps relocated to Melbourne for filming and he was initially contracted for 12 months. He later said that he wanted to stay for longer as a year was not long enough. Phillipps researched his screen parents by watching clips of the show on YouTube. He made his screen debut as Daniel on 29 April 2014. In March 2015, Phillipps said that he was happy at Neighbours and would be staying for at least two more years.
Introduction and characterisation
Ahead of his introduction, Herbison said Daniel's unexpected arrival would see him "begin the next chapter of his life." While Jack Klompus for Digital Spy reported that Daniel would come to Erinsborough to see where his parents fell in love. Shortly after his arrival, Daniel set up camp at Lassiter's Lake, the scene of a fatal shooting involving his cousin Kate (Ashleigh Brewer). When Imogen Willis (Ariel Kaplan) discovered him there, she asked him to move on. When she saw Daniel had still not left, Imogen told Paul Robinson to come down and tell him to leave, but Paul was "delighted" to find the camper was actually his nephew. Dennis called Daniel's arrival "a huge surprise" for Paul and thought it was a good distraction for him. Paul's happiness was short-lived when Daniel told him he was only passing through, but after a phone call to his mother, Daniel changed his mind and stayed for his uncle.
In his fictional backstory, Daniel grew up in Brisbane with his family. He dropped out of university to travel around the country. Phillipps initially said Daniel was "happy-go-lucky" and in touch with nature. He asserted that Daniel would not arrive with any secrets. Phillipps later described Daniel as being "a laid-back surfer dude who is a bit of a hippy as well. He is easy-going, care-free and positive." Phillipps also said Daniel was a loving person, who wants the make the most of his life. Daniel is a keen photographer, skateboarder and beach bum. He is around four years younger than Phillipps, who was 26 when he joined the show. Phillipps stated that he shares some similarities with Daniel, as he used parts of his own personality to try and flesh out the character. He also said that he could relate to Daniel's friendly "loving side".
In March 2015, Phillipps hoped that he would get to explore a darker side to Daniel and said that he had been filming scenes which revealed Daniel had been a bully in the past. He continued, "this is really cool and it explains why he is so good now. He just decided one day that he doesn't want to be this guy because he saw how it was affecting people, so he became ultra good." Phillipps wanted to show that Daniel was not always good and he thought that he might have his uncle's darker traits in him.
Sarah Ellis from Inside Soap wrote that Daniel's arrival could not have come at a better time for Paul, who was grieving for his recently deceased niece Kate. Phillipps said that Daniel was excited to spend time with Paul and believed that he could help him with his grief. He continued, "I think Daniel is really happy to just be settled for a while because he is road-tripping. Paul has been grieving over Kate's death, so they are a really good match for each other right now. Their relationship is really strong." Dennis asked for Paul and Daniel's first scene to be rewritten as he wanted to establish their strong relationship from the beginning. The original script saw Paul failing to recognise his nephew. Dennis took his worries to the writers who agreed to change the scenes. Phillipps stated that Paul and Daniel have "a great uncle and nephew relationship" and thought they were a good pairing, as they both wanted to be good influences on each other. He explained that Daniel initially believed his uncle was beloved by the community, but he slowly realised that a lot of people do not like Paul. Daniel decided to stay in Erinsborough and try and redeem his uncle. He told Ellis, "Daniel finds it bizarre that Paul isn't well liked, because he is all about the love!"
As Daniel bonded with his uncle, Paul invited him to move into his penthouse apartment. They clashed a little, due to Daniel's different outlook on life. He values relationships over material possessions, which is an odd concept to Paul. Daniel also picked up some shifts in Paul's hotel, but Phillipps pointed out that it was to keep his uncle happy. Daniel found the job too restricting to stay there forever. Phillipps has said that he enjoyed working with Dennis again, following their previous storyline together in 2007. He thought that it was an interesting piece of writing, saying that if Paul was going to imagine someone, it makes sense that the guy looks like his nephew. When Paul suffered a public meltdown due to his grief over Kate's death, Daniel was there to comfort him while he broke down. However, the situation proved too much for Daniel and he had to call in Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher), hoping that his uncle would receive the medical and psychological help he needed. Phillipps later said that helping Paul was "a pretty tough ask" for Daniel and while he thinks of himself as kind of therapist to people, the situation was "pretty extreme". Phillipps added that the storyline presented "an interesting dynamic" for the pair.
During a behind-the-scenes video posted by Neighbours, Phillipps hinted that Daniel could find romance with established character Amber Turner (Jenna Rosenow), who was in a relationship with Josh Willis (Harley Bonner) at the time. Phillipps later said that Daniel and Amber would become friends, as they bond over their shared love for photography. When Josh began to worry about Daniel's intentions towards his girlfriend, Daniel was "able to put Josh at ease". He and Amber were honest about their connection and passed it off as platonic love. A few weeks later, Amber and Daniel almost shared a kiss, as she started to fall out of love with Josh. Rosenow explained that Amber was attracted to Daniel's caring side and liked how he noticed things about her that Josh never had. When it became difficult for them to be apart, they spent the afternoon together, which resulted in their near kiss. With Amber feeling guilty about betraying Josh, she decided to break-up with him, but when he made a romantic gesture, she found she could not go through with it.
After Amber failed to break-up with Josh, Daniel tried to keep his distance from her. However, Paige Smith (Olympia Valance) had already noticed their growing closeness, so she kissed Daniel to prompt a reaction and work out what was truly going on with them. Amber was "gutted" when she witnessed the kiss and it caused her to give into her feelings for Daniel and they kissed. Daniel was left feeling guilty about Josh and Phillipps commented "He wants to be with Amber, but it's not in his nature to just walk all over people." Phillipps liked that Daniel's first major storyline was a love triangle as it was "quite relatable" for everyone. He thought the reaction to it had been mixed, but there had been support for Amber and Daniel. A few weeks later, Josh walked in on Amber and Daniel kissing. Bonner told an Inside Soap reporter that Josh was devastated by the scene and did not want to hear Amber's apology. Josh eventually went to the penthouse to speak with Daniel and came close to hitting him. He then smashed up Amber and Daniel's darkroom, knowing that is where they had spent a lot of their time together. Phillipps confirmed that Amber and Daniel would stay together despite the fallout and that they would grow closer because of it. The couple were given the portmanteau Damber by fans and critics.
When a tornado hit Erinsborough, Amber and Daniel decided to go out in it to take photographs. Prior to their departure, Daniel fells out with Paul after he told Amber about the origin of Daniel's tattoo, which he got while he was with his ex-girlfriend. As the weather became more severe, Amber and Daniel were caught up in the tornado and the roof of their car was ripped off. They sought shelter in the local garage and later rescued Paul, who came looking for them. Phillipps commented that the situation made Daniel see things clearly and he realised that he wanted to "take things to the next level" with Amber, so he proposed to her. Phillipps told All About Soap's Carena Crawford, "He's so happy when she says yes because its exactly what he wants. No matter what happens next, he'll never regret asking her to be his wife." When Amber's parents refused to support the engagement, she decided to move out. Daniel asked her to move into the penthouse with him, but Paul vetoed the plan, so they briefly moved into Daniel's car instead. Phillipps joked that Daniel was "Mr Positive", so he did not let their living arrangements ruin his enthusiasm. Amber struggled with her new living conditions and eventually moved back home.
In October 2014, Daniel's ex-girlfriend Rain Taylor (Airlie Dodds) was introduced, and the official website stated that she would cause "misery" for Daniel. Rain came to Erinsborough to establish a commune called New Eden. However, after befriending Amber, Rain began manipulating her into moving into the commune and giving up her university studies. Amber's mother, Lauren (Kate Kendall), came to Daniel and expressed her fears about Rain's influence on her daughter. Daniel then tried to tell Amber that she was being brainwashed by Rain, but she refused to listen to him. Rain later questioned why Daniel and Amber were together and kissed Daniel in a bid to show him that his relationship with Amber was wrong. When Amber asked Rain for a meditation session, Rain used the opportunity to try and brainwash her into breaking up with Daniel. Rain's plan failed, but her influence left Amber questioning her relationship with Daniel and whether she should try to discover who she really is. When Daniel invited Amber to Queensland to meet his parents, she declined and instead ended their engagement. Shortly after Amber's car was stolen, Daniel came to her rescue, explaining that he sensed she was in trouble. Amber took this as a sign that they were meant to be together and they resumed their relationship.
After they set a wedding date, Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), who was married to Daniel's grandmother Madge (Anne Charleston), returned to Erinsborough for the ceremony. He gave Daniel some advice about marriage, telling him to have "realistic expectations." Phillipps thought that Daniel and Amber were rushing into marriage, but explained that the producers wanted the wedding to air as part of the show's 30th anniversary in March 2015. He thought they should have waited another year. Phillipps also admitted that he did not think Amber and Daniel were well suited, saying "they are very easygoing people and I am not sure if that creates the best sparks." On the day of his wedding, Daniel decided to be "a hopeless romantic" and try and get Amber an antique ring from a well that belonged to his ancestor. Phillipps explained that Amber had been obsessing about the love story connected to the ring and Daniel wanted to give it to her on their wedding day. Daniel and Imogen climbed into the well, but the ladder gave way, trapping them down there and forcing Daniel to miss his wedding. While Daniel worried about Amber, she assumed that he had run off with Imogen. After a few days, Josh worked out where Daniel and Imogen were, and they were rescued, leading to a reconciliation between Daniel and Amber.
Digital Spy's Daniel Kilkelly noticed a connection between Daniel and Imogen in their first scenes together and Phillipps told him that something could happen between them in the future. He continued, "Imogen gets into twists and gets very worked up about things and Daniel just doesn't get it. He finds it really funny and thinks that Imogen is super sweet. He doesn't get why she finds stuff so frustrating, but he really loves that about her as well." Daniel and Imogen clashed again when she dropped her birthday dress after he ran into her on his skateboard. Daniel bought her a new dress, but it was too big for Imogen and she refused to accept it. Later that day, Imogen accidentally crushed Daniel's skateboard during a driving lesson, but Daniel believed it was her way of getting revenge for the dress. Imogen developed feelings for Daniel after they teamed up for a community project. Phillipps commented that Daniel and Imogen had developed "a great chummy friendship", so he thought Daniel would be surprised to learn that Imogen has feelings for him.
When Daniel comforted an upset Imogen, she leaned in and kissed him. While Daniel was shocked by the kiss, Imogen tried to convince him that it was "a brain snap and nothing more". Daniel then had to choose whether to tell Amber about the kiss or not. Following his break-up with Amber, Daniel had to assure Imogen that it was nothing to do with their kiss. She then tried to convince Daniel to work things out with Amber, but his "unwavering confidence in their love" had been knocked. Kaplan expressed her wish for Imogen and Daniel to become a couple, saying "I have wanted them to be together from the start. I think they balance each other out and Daniel brings out the best in Imogen, so I'm always hoping that it happens secretly!" Phillipps later admitted that Daniel and Imogen were better suited than Daniel and Amber. He thought they should get together and hoped the writers had noticed that there was a demand for them to be a couple on social media sites.
On the day of his wedding, Imogen told Daniel that she was in love with him. Phillipps commented that Daniel took Imogen's confession on board and just went with it. However, after they became trapped in a well, things became awkward between them and they talked it through. Phillipps quipped "poor little Imogen gets let down gently yet again." Both Daniel and Imogen thought they would be found quickly, but when someone shut the grill and water was pumped into the well, they realised that they might die down there. However, they were eventually rescued and Phillipps joked that he was relieved that he still had a job. He added that he enjoyed working on the storyline with Kaplan.
Dakota Davies' manipulation
When Paul's former lover Dakota Davies (Sheree Murphy) came to town, Daniel became embroiled in her plan to get revenge on Paul and smuggle diamonds into Australia. Dakota convinced Paul to finance a bar for her and she then set out "to ingratiate herself with an impressionable Daniel". Noting Paul's love for his nephew, Dakota offered Daniel the managers job at the bar and he accepted after being persuaded by Paul. They were both unaware that Dakota was planning on setting up Daniel as "the perfect front-man" for their plan. When Daniel was tasked with signing for several shipments of coffee beans, Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor) realised that he was being set up. Shortly before a planned police raid was carried out on the bar, Brennan learned that Daniel was meant to sign for another delivery containing smuggled diamonds, so he told Amber's father, Constable Matt Turner (Josef Brown) in the hope that he could help. Matt then detained Daniel for jaywalking, while the raid went ahead, which infuriated him. Daniel and Amber initially believed that Matt was trying to "punish" them both for the engagement, but they eventually thanked him when he explained that he was only protecting Daniel.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Ben Pobjie observed that Daniel's introduction was one of the "most mildly anticipated events" in the show's history and that the character provided a link to the show's past. But he was not keen on his personality, saying "Daniel Robinson is a handsome young thing, whose good looks more than make up for the fact he's an incredibly irritating hippie tosser." Dianne Butler, writing for news.com.au, branded Daniel "a gorgeous blond vision" and suspected he had been introduced in a bid to increase ratings. Sarah Dean from the Daily Mail observed, "From his first episode, it's clear to see Daniel has inherited the infectious charm and good looks of his parents". A Soap World writer thought that Daniel was "idealistic and naive". An Inside Soap columnist observed that the chemistry between Amber and Daniel was "undeniable".
Laura Morgan of All About Soap believed Amber was better suited to Daniel than Josh, as she had "way better chemistry" with him. Morgan said, "from the minute she clapped eyes on Scott and Charlene's sexy son, it was clear they were going to get it on. It definitely didn't take them long either." During a review of the year, Digital Spy's Daniel Kilkelly praised Phillipps for being "a strong actor" and said he deserved "a chance to shine" as Daniel in the new year. Kilkelly bemoaned the lack of challenging storylines for him and hoped he would be given something more to do that did not revolve around his relationship with Amber. When Daniel got stuck in the well, an Inside Soap columnist quipped "What kind of idiot thinks that climbing down a well an hour before his wedding is a good idea? Neighbours' Daniel, that's who!"
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