Kate Kendall as Lauren
|Portrayed by||Sarah Vandenbergh (1993–94)
Kate Kendall (2013–)
|First appearance||18 February 1993|
|Introduced by||Alan Coleman (1993)
Richard Jasek (2013)
|Occupation||Stablehand (until 1993)
Waitress (1993–94, 2013–)
Riding school owner (until 2013)
|Home||32 Ramsay Street|
Sarah Vandenbergh as Lauren
Lauren Turner (previously Carpenter) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 18 February 1993. Sarah Vandenbergh was the first actress to portray Lauren. She decided to leave the serial when she was told that Lauren would not feature prominently in storylines anymore and departed on 2 March 1994. On 4 November 2012, it was announced Lauren would be returning to Neighbours. Kate Kendall took over the role and made her first appearance as Lauren on 7 February 2013.
Lauren is the "vivacious" daughter of Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver). Vandenbergh described her as being happy, headstrong and into horses. She also thought that just by looking at the character you knew she was a girl next door type. Lauren's major storylines during her first stint in the show saw her have an affair with Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson), join a religious cult and begin a casual relationship with Wayne Duncan (Jonathon Sammy-Lee). Upon her return in 2013, Lauren brought her family with her and Kendall stated that they would have secrets.
Vandenbergh joined the cast of Neighbours in 1993 to play the "vivacious" daughter of Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver). It was her first major television role and she relocated from Sydney to Melbourne for filming. Vandenbergh told Sue Malins of Soaplife that her workload was gruelling and she had a crazy work schedule during her time on the show. The actress said it was tough for the younger cast members who had come straight from school, but as she was twenty, she could deal with it.
Vandenbergh decided to leave Neighbours because of a decision made by production staff that Lauren would not feature prominently in storylines. After Lauren had been used to play central stories out such as sexually transmitted diseases, they planned to give her a "quieter time" working in the coffee shop. Vandenbergh told Mary Fletcher from Woman's Own, "I didn't want that, after so much had happened, I wasn't going to hang around in the background. And you can only go so far with a job before you stop learning anything new."
In May 1996, Vandenbergh revealed to the Daily Mirror's Fiona Parker that another reason she chose to leave Neighbours was because nobody was letting her be anyone else except Lauren. She admitted that she hated the press writing about her during her time in the show, although said added that she had no regrets about appearing in Neighbours as it was a great experience for her.
Vandenbergh revealed that she did not get much of a synopsis about her character's personality and had to establish herself as Lauren during the first week on air. She told a writer for SOAP magazine, "The only real brief I was given was her relationship with her mother and father and the fact that she was really headstrong and right into horses, and that's about it. To this day I still don't know what her birthday is." The actress stated that when you looked at Lauren you knew she was the girl next door and went on to describe her as "really happy". She added "I looked so Australian with my pony tail and my horsey clothes on and no make-up, so I was the ideal Lauren even before I'd read the scripts." Lauren is the daughter of Lou and Kathy Carpenter and the sister of Guy (Andrew Williams) and Ling Mai Chan (Khym Lam). Lauren had grown up with her mother, following the breakdown of her parents' marriage.
Kathy made Lauren study hard, while time with Lou was more fun. This led Lauren to grow up wanting to please her father and she started working with horses because Lou was a keen rider. Lauren arrived in Erinsborough on her horse Chucka Mental. The storyline was brought in because Oliver had a passion for them, but Vandenbergh revealed that she was unused to horses and had to have a course of intense riding lessons prior to filming. She said "The week before I started on the show I had an accident and the bruising on my leg was the size of a football! There I was having to ride a horse on screen when I could barely walk on to the set!" She called the horse that played Chucka Mental "amazing" and revealed that he had starred in The Man from Snowy River, so he understood the word "action".
Relationship with Brad Willis
Lauren caught the eye of Brad Wills (Scott Michaelson) while she was riding her horse along the beach and Josephine Monroe, author of Neighbours: The First 10 Years, commented that there was an "instant attraction" between them. While writing for Inside Soap, Monroe said the chemistry between Brad and Lauren was set to blow his romance with Beth Brennan (Natalie Imbruglia) apart. Vandenbergh revealed that Lauren would become really good friends with Beth, saying "They're really compatible and they just click, so when Lauren realises what's going on between her and Brad it gets really tricky." Vandenbergh thought that the storyline would become "a very interesting love triangle." After having sex on the beach, Brad and Lauren began an affair in secret. Monroe stated that Lauren could not even tell her father as he had become fond of Beth, while they were lodging together. When Lauren missed her period, she became worried that she was pregnant with Brad's child. She hid her fear, but Lou discovered her secret when he spotted a pregnancy test in the cupboard. Lauren confessed the truth to Lou, who was "shocked", but stood by his daughter. The pregnancy test was negative, but Lou persuaded Lauren to go to the doctor and she was informed that she had chlamydia, which can bring on the signs of pregnancy.
Despite his affair with Lauren, Brad still intended to go through with his wedding to Beth. On the day of the ceremony, Beth finally learnt what had been happening between her finance and her best friend. Imbruglia explained "They walk down the aisle together, but Beth is a bit unsure because that morning she sees Lauren and Brad together. And then she notices that Brad is just constantly looking at Lauren, and she just says 'Wait a minute, I don't think I can go through with this." After Beth jilted Brad, he and Lauren continued their relationship openly and Brad became "besotted" with her. However, Lauren's horse became jealous of Brad and he began gambling. Brad eventually took a break the relationship when he got a job on a cruise ship. While he was away, Lauren met and began dating Connor Cleary (Brian Mannix). When Brad returned, Lauren called things off with Connor. Monroe wrote that it soon became clear that the chemistry between Lauren and Brad was just "an inconclusive experiment" and they eventually broke up. Brad got back together with Beth, who never forgave Lauren for what she did.
In October 1993, Lauren was seen befriending Jacob Collins (John K. Davies) and Ruth Avery (Caitlin McDougall) a pair of "fanatics" and members of the Children of Barabbas, a religious sect. As Lauren became closer to Jacob and Ruth, she was lured into joined the cult. Jim Schembri from The Age commented "She promptly turned into a religious nut and caused trouble in the coffee shop, from where she was promptly sacked". Lauren's friends turned against her and her father became "distraught" as Lauren became more and more influenced by the cult. He grew concerned that she was being brainwashed and worried that he would lose her for good. When Lauren went on a retreat with Jacob and Ruth, the leader of the Children of Barabbas asked her to have sex with him. This brought Lauren to her senses and she had to ask Lou to rescue her. Shortly after the scenes aired in Australia, the British soap opera Brookside featured a similar plot involving a cult. They were accused of copying storylines, though the serial's executive producer, Mal Young, insisted that that it was coincidental because they were both trying to reflect the society of that time.
Lauren began a casual romance with neighbour, Wayne Duncan (Jonathon Sammy-Lee) in early 1994. The relationship came about almost by accident and was initially helped along by Wayne's "matchmaking" brother, Troy (Damian Walshe-Howling). When Lauren got drunk at a dinner party, Wayne offered to walk her home and she grabbed him on the doorstep and kissed him in front of their friends. Sammy-Lee revealed "Then, when she invites him in for coffee, she spills milk on her blouse and takes it off. Wayne does the gentlemanly thing by covering her up with his jacket and putting her to bed. But Lauren reads more into it." The following day, Lauren woke up and was unable to remember what happened, so she assumed she had had sex with Wayne. The truth was eventually explained to Lauren and the incident made sure that her romance with Wayne got off to "a shaky start". Fletcher commented that friendship turned to lust for both characters during the storyline.
During an October 2012 interview with a What's on TV writer, Oliver hinted that Lauren would be coming back to Neighbours, but without Vandenbergh in the role. On 4 November 2012, it was confirmed that the character would be returning and actress Kate Kendall had taken over the part. Of her casting, Kendall stated "It's exciting to be joining Australia's longest running drama and to be working with such an array of experienced actors. To be playing a character such as Lauren Turner, who is deeply embedded in the storyline and who of course is Lou Carpenter's daughter, is such a wonderful opportunity." Lauren returned to Erinsborough along with her husband, Matt Turner (Josef Brown), and their three children; Mason (Taylor Glockner), Amber (Jenna Rosenow) and Bailey (Calen Mackenzie). Kendall revealed that a few original facts about Lauren would remain, like her love for horses, but she wanted to "create something fresh" that she could fit into. Kendall called Lauren's family a "very strong" unit. She explained "There are also a lot of secrets they have in the family and we'll see those play out. The producers were looking to get quite a traditional family in there and hark back to some of those old traditions and family values. They're going to be a really charismatic family, but you'll also get some really juicy storylines and that's what the audiences relate to. Viewers will relate to the familiarity of them and hopefully the sense of magnetism that we bring." Lauren returned on 7 February 2013.
Kendall said Lauren has "a big heart" and is the centre of her family, but she had been looking for some interesting ways to portray her, so that she does come across as too much of a domestic goddess. Kendall explained "She is a wife and a mother that on the surface could look quite bland and I wanted to take her out of that area. She has secrets which makes the character more interesting. It gives her a bit of an edge. Otherwise she could come off as perfect." In the 2013 season finale, Lauren told Lucy Robinson that when she left Erinsborough in 1994 she was pregnant with Brad's child. She had not told anyone else, except her mother Kathy, who then helped her to hide the pregnancy. The baby died shortly after being born and "feelings of grief still engulf Lauren." A reporter for news.com.au commented that the information would have the potential to destroy Lauren's marriage to Matt.
Lauren arrives in Erinsborough on her horse Chucka Mental much to the surprise of her father, Lou. While riding on the beach, Lauren catches the eye of Brad Willis. Lauren soon learns Brad is engaged to Beth Brennan, who is lodging with her and Lou. There is clearly an attraction between Lauren and Brad and they give into it by having sex on the beach. Lauren feels guilty but continues to see Brad. When Brad's cousin, Cameron Hudson (Benjamin Grant Mitchell) asks Lauren out on a date, she accepts to ward off suspicion. Cameron then discovers Brad and Lauren's affair and leaves Erinsborough in disgust. On the day of Brad and Beth's wedding, Beth realises the truth and can see the attraction between Brad and Lauren, who is her bridesmaid and calls off the ceremony.
Lauren and Brad become a couple shortly after an STD scare. Brad develops a gambling addiction and leaves Erinsborough to work on a cruise ship as a distraction for several months. In Brad's absence, Lauren finds company in the form of Irish Jockey, Connor Cleary. Connor asks Lauren to come away to Hong Kong with him, but she ultimately refuses. When Brad returns, Lauren finds him in a compromising situation when he is zipping up the back of his ex-girlfriend Lucy Robinson's (Melissa Bell) dress when she visits him at home to welcome him back. Brad assures her nothing is going on between him and Lucy, but he and Lauren end things.
Lauren is crushed when she learns Brad and Beth are getting back together. Shortly after Lauren suffers a back injury while riding and is later drawn into a religious cult by new friends Jacob and Ruth. Lou and all of Lauren's friends are concerned for her but she is unwilling to listen. The leader of the cult Barrabas (Aidan Fenessy) tries to get Lauren to have sex with him but she manages to escape. Shortly after Brad and Beth marry and leave for Perth, Lauren finds herself in the company of Wayne, who previously dated Beth. They begin dating, but this fizzles out. When Lou moves his new girlfriend Cheryl Stark (Caroline Gillmer) and her teenage children Brett (Brett Blewitt) and Danni (Eliza Szonert) into the house, Lauren feels squeezed out and is relieved when her old boss offers her job back and she leaves for Queensland. Lauren opens her own riding school and she later marries and gives birth to a son, Mason. When Lauren suffers a riding accident, Lou goes to visit her.
Lauren moves to Erinsborough from Mount Isa with her husband and three children. Her father, Lou, invites the family to stay with him at Number 32 Ramsay Street. Lauren learns from Sheila Canning (Colette Mann) that Lou has embezzled from her grandson's business and work as an escort. Lou also confesses to Lauren that he is broke and unemployed, but she reassures him that she is still proud of him. Lauren finds employment at Harold's Store. Lauren and Matt learn that their eldest son, Mason, has been released from juvie early and become concerned that he has not joined them. When Mason does turn up, he assures his mother that he had changed his ways. Lauren tries to keep Mason's time in juvie a secret from Lou, but he finds out and is hurt that she lied to him. Lauren soon learns that her daughter, Amber, has been dating Robbo Slade (Aaron Jakubenko) and took a pregnancy test. She also learns that Robbo left Mason to take the rap for a robbery they took part in back in Mount Isa, and Bailey was also there that night. Lauren is angry with her family for keeping secrets, especially Matt, who kept Bailey's involvement from her. Their marriage suffers and Lauren tells Lou that she is unsure if things with Matt will ever be the same again.
After attending a disastrous dinner with the Kennedy family, Lauren and Matt make up. Mason is later arrested for attempted armed robbery and Lauren becomes angry with Sonya Mitchell (Eve Morey) for reporting him to the police. Lucy comes to town and she and Lauren catch up. Lauren is shocked when Brad and his family move onto Ramsay Street and she avoids telling Matt about her history with Brad. Lauren goes as far as to ask Brad's wife, Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou) to keep the relationship quiet. However, Matt finds out from Brad and confronts Lauren, who reveals that she did not tell him as she was scared he would over-react. Lauren and Matt purchase Harold's Store, instead of a house, and Lauren is soon forced to take a loan from Vanessa Villante (Alin Sumarwata) when the place needs rewiring. Lauren becomes broody and tells Matt that she wants another child. Her plans are put on hold when Number 32 goes up for sale. Robbo returns to Erinsborough and threatens the Turners. Frustrated by Robbo's hold over her family, Lauren sends him an email asking him to meet with her, but they do not meet as planned. Robbo later dies after being hit by a car and when Mason discovers Lauren's email, Matt advises her to tell the police about it.
Lauren and Brad lift a ban preventing Amber and Joshua Willis (Harley Bonner) from seeing each other, annoying Matt and Terese. Matt discovers an old sketch that Lauren drew of Brad and realises that she has been deliberately trying to hide it from him. They argue and Matt briefly moves out of their bedroom. Lauren's business starts to suffer when a parking charge is implemented at Lassiter's. Lauren dreams about dancing with Brad and confides in Sheila, who tells Matt. When Lauren catches Matt sneaking around with a colleague, she soon learns that he has been taking dance classes in a bid to impress her. Lauren reveals to Lucy that when she left Erinsborough twenty years ago, she was pregnant with Brad's child. Lauren explains that she became careless with contraception, after being diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease and did not realise that she was pregnant, until she was six months along. Lauren tells Lucy that there were complications during the birth and her daughter died.
A writer for the BBC's Neighbours website said Lauren's most notable moment was "Falling under the spell of a religious cult." Josephine Monroe of Inside Soap commented that Lauren's arrival "really set the cat among the pigeons." A reporter for the Daily Mail branded her a "troublesome" character, while a Daily Record columnist called her a "troubled teenager". A columnist for SOAP magazine stated "Lauren Carpenter infuriated millions of Neighbours fans when she has a fling with Brad Willis on the eve of his wedding to Beth Brennan." The added that she was a "quirky, horse-loving blonde", who inadvertently disrupted the Willis household.
Sue Malins from Soaplife thought Lauren was involved in some of the "steamiest storylines ever seen on the soap." In February 2013, a Newcastle Herald reporter noted that Lauren had caused "a flurry of gossip with her family's strange behaviour", adding that celebrating the birthday of an absent child "will always raise eyebrows." Melinda Houston from The Sun-Herald called Lauren's heart-to-heart with Lucy a "genuine emotional moment" and added "Kendall does a superb job and sets us up for more drama in 2014."
- Malins, Sue (October 1999). "Home is where the heart is". Soaplife (IPC Media) (3): 29.
- Monroe 1994, p.276.
- Fletcher, Mary (10 October 1994). "It's not love with Wayne, it's lust!". Woman's Own (IPC Media) (41): 10–11.
- Parker, Fiona (25 May 1996). "Sarah moo-ves in; Neighbours star books a spot with Morag the cow". Daily Mirror (Trinity Mirror).
- "Bye Bye, Bitch". SOAP (Northern & Shell) 1 (1): 22–23. September 1994.
- "Character: Lauren Carpenter". BBC. Archived from the original on 9 April 2004. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Monroe 1994, p.45–46.
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- "Neighbours' Tom Oliver: 'I was ABBA's bodyguard!'". What's on TV. IPC Media. 1 October 2012.
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- Character profile at the Official AU Neighbours website
- Character profile at the Official UK Neighbours website
- Character profile at BBC Online
- Character profile at Neighbours.com