Mike Young (Neighbours)
|Portrayed by||Guy Pearce|
|First appearance||20 January 1986|
|Last appearance||6 December 1989|
|Created by||Ray Kolle|
|Introduced by||Reg Watson|
Maths teacher (1988–89)
Michael James "Mike" Young is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Guy Pearce. He made his first on-screen appearance on 20 January 1986. Mike's storylines included being physically abused by his father, moving in with Des and Daphne Clarke, making friends with Charlene Mitchell and Scott Robinson, his relationship with Jane Harris and becoming a teacher. Mike departed Erinsborough to be with his mother on 6 December 1989.
Creation and casting
When he was 18, Pearce's drama teacher advised him to write to TV companies asking for auditions and he wrote to the Grundy Organisation, which produced Neighbours at the time. Pearce was then cast as the troubled and lonely Mike Young. Following his last year 12 exam, he began filming on 3 December 1985. Pearce's debut was in episode number 171, the first episode broadcast on Network Ten following the show's move from Seven Network.
In 1989, the Neighbours producers did not want Pearce to play Errol Flynn in a biopic film and Pearce decided to leave the show. Of being a part of Neighbours, Pearce said "I experienced hysteria at a pretty high pitch with that show". Pearce also added "I'm not embarrassed by having done it now, not at all. It was an amazing experience, an amazing opportunity. And I was only 18."
Mike and his mother, Barbara (Rona McLeod; Diana Greentree), lived in fear of being beaten and abused by Mike's father, David (Stewart Faichney), throughout Mike's young life. This meant Mike grew up into a lonely, quiet young man who did not socialise much until he began attending Erinsborough High School and becomes good friends with Charlene Mitchell (Kylie Minogue) and Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan).
Through his friendship with Scott, Mike comes to Ramsay Street and befriends Scott's neighbour, Daphne Clarke (Elaine Smith), who cares for him, later giving him a part-time job at her coffee shop. Mike opens up to Daphne and Des (Paul Keane) about his problems at home with his father and Daphne tries to get Mike and Barbara away from David. However, Barbara is too scared of her husband and she does not want to leave, but Mike is determined to go and moves in with Des and Daphne when they offer to become his legal guardians. Mike briefly dates Scott's cousin Nikki Dennison (Charlene Fenn), but he later falls for Jane Harris (Annie Jones) when she moves in with her grandmother, Nell Mangel (Vivean Gray). Jane falls for Mike straight away, but it takes a while before Mike realises his feelings due to Jane's plain image. Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) and Daphne give her a makeover for a school dance, which consists of replacing her glasses with contacts, a new haircut and makeup. Mike likes her new image and they begin dating. Mrs Mangel is not happy that her granddaughter is dating Mike and when she receives letters about Mike's reputation with other girls, Mrs Mangel stops Jane from seeing him. Daphne eventually catches school bully, Sue Parker (Kate Gorman), posting the letters and Sue explains that she is jealous of Mike and Jane's relationship. Mrs Mangel then lets Jane and Mike continue dating. When Nikki returns to Ramsay Street, Mike helps comfort her when she discovers her mother is ill, leading Jane to become jealous of their friendship. Mike becomes jealous when Shane Ramsay (Peter O'Brien) shows an attraction to Jane, but she tells Mike that he is the only one for her.
Following their final exams, Jane focuses on her modelling career and Mike decides to become a teacher. As they are leading separate lives, Jane and Mike split up amicably and remain friends. Not long after, Daphne is killed in a car crash and Mike is left feeling guilty as he had not been around for a few weeks. Mike is angry and upset and he finds the two men who had crashed into Daphne's car. He attacks them and is later arrested. When Mike finishes university, he gets a job teaching Maths at Erinsborough High. Mike becomes close to one of his students, Jessie Ross (Michelle Kearley), who admits that she has an abusive father too. Mike confronts her father, Ted (Doug Bennett), but soon learns that her mother Adele (Marian Sinclair) is the one abusing her. Mike becomes close to Jessie and they share a kiss, which is witnessed by principal Kenneth Muir (Roger Boyce). Mr Muir suspends Mike, who decides to leave Erinsborough for a while.
On his return, Mike finds Des and Jane have forged a strong friendship. Mike becomes moody as he settles back in. When Jenny Owens (Danielle Carter) comes to see him, it is revealed that Mike and Jenny took a ride on his motorbike and had an accident. Jenny fell from the bike and was left paralysed and using a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Mike blames himself for Jenny's condition and could not bring himself to accept that the event was an accident. Jenny eventually convinces him that it was not his fault. At the same time, Des and Jane begin dating and Mike is disgusted with the both of them. He refuses to accept the relationship and leaves Erinsborough again. He returns in the middle of Des and Jane's engagement party and he interrupts it. Mike eventually accepts that Des and Jane love each other and gives them his blessing. Mike begins to feel like there is not much left for him in Erinsborough and when he hears that his mother had been in a plane crash, and with his father long dead, Mike decides to leave Ramsay Street and join her to help her recovery.
A writer for the BBC's Neighbours website stated that Mike's most notable moment was when he saw Jane's "transformation at the school dance." In 2010, to celebrate Neighbours' 25th anniversary Sky, a British satellite broadcasting company profiled 25 characters of which they believed were the most memorable in the series history. Mike is in the list and describing him they state: "The Erinsborough economy is studied the world over for being the only one in the world that can sustained on just four professions: you can work in 'business', or be a journalist, a doctor, or a teacher. Mike chose the latter, probably because he was the nice, fairly quiet boy out of the legendary original set of teens on the show. His romance with plain Jane Harris unfortunately ended up with her engaged to his father figure of a friend, Des, one of many reasons why he left the show to care for his sick mother." Heat magazine called Mike "cheesy, but gorgeous". Lorna Cooper of MSN TV has listed Mike as one of Soap Opera's forgotten characters and claims he is a favourite out of the golden era of the serial. Orange UK describe Mike as one of the serial's "hottest spunks". LoveFilm describe Mike's storylines as serious and give him the nickname "motorbike Mike".
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