|Portrayed by||Delta Goodrem|
|Duration||2002–03, 2004, 2005|
|First appearance||11 June 2002|
|Last appearance||27 July 2005|
|Introduced by||Stanley Walsh (2002)
Ric Pellizzeri (2004, 2005)
Nina Tucker is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Delta Goodrem. She made her first on-screen appearance on 11 June 2002. Goodrem was approached by producers after they saw her video for her debut single. Goodrem, who had just signed a record deal, almost turned down the role of Nina as she felt the character did not suit her style of music. The role was rewritten for her and she joined the cast. A year later, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and had to leave the show for treatment. Once her health improved, she made a return to Neighbours in 2004 to tie up Nina's storylines. In 2005, Neighbours celebrated its 20th anniversary with an episode that featured many ex-cast members, in which Goodrem reprised her role as Nina once more.
Nina was originally written as a bad girl character, but when the writers rewrote the role for Goodrem, she became a painfully shy school student who was described as being the "quintessential girl-next-door". Nina learned to be independent from an early age as she was travelling with her parents all over the world. She has a complicated relationship with her mother, who she sees as an embarrassment to her. In 2004, her personality underwent a change, and she was no longer shy; she had grown up and had become more assured. Goodrem's manager suggested that Nina should be an aspiring singer and Neighbours developed the character to suit her. Goodrem worked with the writers to incorporate her music into the show. One of Nina's longest running storylines was her relationship with Jack Scully (Jay Bunyan). They began their relationship while they were seeing other people and they break up twice. However, Nina realises that she loves Jack and returns from India to tell him. Goodrem said that she believes Nina and Jack are soulmates. Nina was well received, and Goodrem won the "Most Popular New Female Talent" Logie Award for the role.
Neighbours approached Goodrem about appearing in the show after they saw the video for her debut single, "I Don't Care"; she was offered the role of Nina Tucker in early 2002. Goodrem almost turned down the part because she was not happy with the character written for her. She had just signed a record deal with Sony Records and felt the part did not suit her music. The Neighbours producers agreed to rewrite the role of Nina for her.
In July 2003, Goodrem was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and was forced to leave the show to begin treatment. Goodrem was written out of Neighbours, and script producer, Luke Devenish, said: "She had to concentrate on her health, so there was no getting around it. There was absolutely no question of attempting to keep her working." Nina departed on-screen in October 2003, with an exit storyline that allowed for a return in the future. Three months' worth of scripts were rewritten, and a new character, Carmella Cammeniti (Natalie Blair), was created and introduced to cover Nina's planned storyline with Connor O'Neill (Patrick Harvey).
In March 2004, it was announced that Goodrem would be returning to Neighbours to finish her contract. Of her return, a spokesperson said "We never thought we'd see her back. Her illness stunned us all and her vastly improved health now thrills us. We can't wait for the days she's back on the set. This is where it all started for her." Goodrem told TV Week that it was important to her to tie up Nina's storylines and added: "I really felt that Nina and myself had a lot of unfinished business there." Due to Goodrem's busy schedule, the producers made sure all her scenes were shot in three days. She returned to screens in Australia on 6 September. Goodrem became one of many ex-cast members who returned to Neighbours in 2005 for an episode that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the show. Goodrem said that she "couldn't be happier" about going back to Neighbours.
Nina was initially meant to be a "bad girl", but the writers rewrote the part for Goodrem, and the character became a "painfully shy schoolgirl" who gets a job in the Coffee Shop. The Age described Nina as the "quintessential girl next door". Goodrem described her character as "a quiet, unassuming type of girl", who does not think anything of her amazing gift. When Goodrem was asked if she was like Nina, she said "I think I am in some ways and in some ways I'm not. Nina's very shy, I really like the character Nina but I think she'd probably walk out of a room and I'd probably chat all day I think that's probably the difference, she'd sneak out of a room and I'd stay!" The BBC agreed with Goodrem and said that Nina would not say "boo to a goose" and would flee if anyone looked her way.
In 2003, Nina's mother, Trixie (Wendy Stapleton), arrives in Erinsborough after being dumped by Nina's father, Nick. Nina is upset to learn her parents have split up and goes into denial. She believes that they will get back together. Trixie is a professional singer and, during a set at Lou's Place, starts to lose confidence, so Nina helps her out and saves the night. Stapleton said that Nina and Trixie's relationship is complicated, and there are issues between them. Nina sees Trixie as an embarrassment, but she helps her out because she sees how sad her mother is. Stapleton explained more about Nina's early life saying, "Nina's life has been almost a gypsy one – living out of a suitcase while her parents toured. She's learned to be independent from an early age, though Trixie idolises her." Nina has retreated into books and her imagination instead of being worldly from the travelling she has done. Stapleton and Goodrem did not get a chance to explore their respective character's relationship much further, as Goodrem was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma three weeks into the storyline. Scripts were changed so Nina was not directly involved and she was only mentioned by other characters.
When she returns in 2004, Nina is no longer shy and vulnerable. She has taken control of her life and has become more assured. Goodrem welcomed her character's development and said that Nina comes back strong and confident. She also said: "I think she had to grow up. If she didn't come back a little bit older and wiser, then she wouldn't have learnt and grown from what's gone on in the year that she's been missing."
Goodrem's manager, Glenn Wheatley, suggested making Nina into an aspiring singer. He said: "We didn't want that soap star-turned-singer vibe but how cool would it be if she already was a singer? Neighbours developed a character to suit her rather than the other way around." Goodrem worked with the writers to incorporate her music into the show, and Wheatley used the exposure that Neighbours gave Goodrem to relaunch her singing career. Nina has a powerful voice and writes her own songs, but she is too shy to sing them in public. Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) discovers that Nina can sing one day, and Connor enters one of Nina's songs, "Born To Try", in a talent contest at UniFM and it wins. Nina is too shy to receive the prize, and Tahnee Coppin (Anna Jennings-Edquist) tries to take credit for the song instead. Connor stops her and Nina then overcomes her shyness to sing her song. Within weeks of it being performed, "Born to Try" became the number one single in Australia.
Relationship with Jack Scully
Nina falls for Taj Coppin (Jaime Robbie Reyne) and she begins her first relationship with him. During a trip away to the beach, Jack Scully (Jay Bunyan) discovers he is attracted to Nina. Nina is cast in Harold's play, Mission Erinsborough, alongside Jack and she realises that she likes him too. They then begin an affair. Peter Mattessi of The Age said their love "bubbled until it almost erupted". Nina breaks up with Taj so she can be with Jack, but before Jack can break up with his girlfriend Lori Lee (Michelle Ang), she is paralysed during an accident. Jack becomes torn over whether to leave Lori and be with Nina. Both Lori and Taj find out about Nina and Jack, so Nina decides to remain single, but eventually she and Jack begin their relationship properly. When Nina feels that she is not ready to sleep with Jack, he cheats on her with Edwina Valdez (Lucia Smyrk). Taj tells Nina about Jack cheating and she breaks up with him. She later kisses Connor in front of Jack to make him jealous. Of this, Jay Bunyan said "Jack gets really angry, especially with Connor, who is supposed to be his mate. He threatens to tell Nina about Connor getting Lori pregnant, as a way of getting back at him." Nina becomes confused over her love life and is unsure whether she still has feelings for Jack. She then decides to depart Erinsborough to go to India.
In 2004, Nina returns to win back Jack after becoming an actress in the Indian film industry and realising that she is alone. Goodrem told TV Week "She's been doing wonderful things in Bollywood and has been with her dad. But she was missing the love of life back in Australia, so she came back." Nina's arrival comes at a time when Jack is starting to get his life back together following a car crash due to his partying. He is "shocked" and "overwhelmed" to see her, and Goodrem explained that Nina reminds him of what he once had and that he still has feelings for her. She said that she believes Jack and Nina are soul mates and added: "They have had a very rocky relationship, but I think they're even now." Jack and Nina talk things through and they "fall back into each other's arms". Jack later chooses to leave Erinsborough to be with Nina.
Nina enrolls at Erinsborough High after her school work suffers because she has been travelling the world with her parents, Nick and Trixie. Nina is shy and concealed as a result of her neglect by Nick and Trixie. Nina takes up two jobs at the Coffee Shop and at Lassiter's Hotel. The residents of Ramsay Street begin to notice that she is shy and has low self-esteem. One night, Harold Bishop hears Nina singing and realises that she is good, but Nina disagrees. Harold manages to convince Nina to join the church choir, and she is asked to perform a solo, but her nerves get to her and is not able to go through with their performance. Connor O'Neill also overhears Nina singing one day and becomes close with her, as he is the only teenager who knows about her talent.
Tahnee Coppin forces Nina to admit that she is in love with Connor and then threatens to tell his girlfriend, Michelle Scully (Kate Keltie). Nina records a song called "Born to Try", which is heard by Connor. He secretly enters the song into UniFM's undiscovered talent contest. Nina is angry with Connor at first but tells her that he did it for her so she could realise her potential. Nina's song wins the contest, but she is too shy to come forward, and Tahnee takes the credit instead. Connor takes Nina to the station and she admits that she wrote and sang the song. Nina then overcomes her fears to sing "Born to Try" for the crowd, which upsets Tahnee. Nina's prize is to sing at a nightclub; afterwards, she is approached by Glenn Wheatley, but she turns down his offer.
Nina asks out Taj Coppin, after he sends her text messages, and they begin a relationship. Nina and Jack Scully are pushed into auditioning for roles in Harold's new play, and they have to perform a kiss on stage. As they went on rehearsing, they begin to get closer to each other, and they start an affair. Nina breaks up with Taj, but before Jack can break up with Lori Lee, she has an accident. Jack eventually tells Lori about Nina, and when Nina tries to apologise, Lori tells her that she will not be forgiven. Nina then tells Jack that they cannot be together. Nina sticks up for Tahnee when she is being bullied, and they become friends. Nina and Jack get back together, but when Jack tries to take things further, Nina tells him she is a virgin. Jack tells her that he is willing to wait.
Talent manager Melody Jones (Robyn Arthur) approaches Nina and asks her to sign with her. Nina forges her mother's signature on the forms and gets a regular singing gig at Lou Carpenter's (Tom Oliver) pub. Nina leaves for a tour of Asia, but when she gets back she hears another singer singing one of her songs on the radio. Nina is told that she signed the rights to her music away, but Lou points out that the contract is not valid as Nina forged a signature on it. Nina sleeps with Jack for the first time, but when Taj tells her that Jack cheated on her with Edwina Valdez, their relationship ends. Nina starts getting closer to Connor and, to make Jack jealous, kisses Connor at the Lassiter's Ball.
Nina's mother, Trixie, arrives in town, and Lou gives her a singing job at his pub as he fancies her. Nina is upset to learn that Trixie and Nick are no longer together, and, when Trixie tells her that she was not married to her father, Nina leaves for Bombay to see Nick. Trixie and Lou later marry. Nina returns a year later after becoming an actress in Bollywood. She goes to see Jack and tells him that she wants to be with him. She also visits Lou and gives him some money, as Trixie had left him bankrupt. Lyn Scully (Janet Andrewartha) tells Nina that Jack needs to stay in Australia so he can sort himself out. Nina performs her last concert at Lou's Place, and she tells Jack that she will wait for him. Months later, Jack flies out to Los Angeles to be with Nina.
For her portrayal of Nina, Goodrem received the Most Popular New Female Talent accolade at the 2003 Logie Awards. She also earned a nomination for Best Newcomer at the Inside Soap Awards. The following year, Goodrem was nominated for Most Popular Actress and Most Popular Personality at the Logie Awards. A writer for the BBC's Neighbours website said Nina's most notable moment was "Cheating on Taj with Jack Scully".
To celebrate Neighbours' 25th anniversary, British satellite broadcasting company, Sky, profiled twenty-five characters who they believed were the most memorable in the series' history. Nina was included in the list, and Sky said: "Nina represents just about the only recognisable name from the lost years of Neighbours in the early noughties, as one of the least successful groups of teens in the programme's history. Remember Lori? Or Michelle? Or, Lord help us, Taj? In the absence of any usable characters, the writers did that always uncomfortable thing of letting a character get up and sing on screen. Repeatedly." They describe her most memorable scenes as being discovered singing by Harold, her mother's marriage to Lou, and her relationship with Jack.
TV Week named Nina's passion for singing as one of Neighbours' "most exciting storylines ever". They said: "When it was discovered she could sing, Nina Tucker was transformed from shy highschool student into a star performer and a bit of a heart-breaker. This was cut short when Delta was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, leaving us in the lurch and wondering about her love affair... triangle... quadrangle!" TV Week later included Nina in their "Top 25 Neighbours characters".
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