Matt Robinson (Neighbours)
|Portrayed by||Ashley Paske|
|First appearance||22 May 1989|
|Last appearance||19 March 1991|
|Introduced by||Don Battye|
|Other names||Matt Williams|
Matthew "Matt" Robinson (also Williams) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Ashley Paske. He made his first on-screen appearance on 22 May 1989 and departed the show on 19 March 1991.
On 8 May 1989, the serial's producer Mark Callan told Jackie Cockburn of Evening Times that the former Richmond Hill actor Ashley Paske had been cast in the role of Matt. Callan said that they were introducing new characters to test the relationships with their established ones. Network Ten had placed Paske on a developmental retainer which lasted for eight months. He was promised a role in a drama that the network aired at the end of his retainer contract. The drama role turned out to be the part of Matt. When Paske was given the role, he relocated from his home in Wollongong to Melbourne for filming. Paske said that it helped him in approach to playing his character, because he could relate to Matt having to move to a new area. Paske's first scenes aired in May 1989.
In 1997, Ashley Paske spoke to Lizzy Gardiner about his time in the show and leaving to pursue further endeavours in the UK, spurred on by his popularity. Paske then mentioned that he had difficulty securing acting work on his return to Australia.
Storyliners created a detailed backstory for the character in which he was adopted by the Williams family. He enjoyed a good childhood and loved his parents. But Matt had the need to seek-out his birth parents, which led him to Ramsay Street. Callan said that when Matt arrives in Erinsborough, he would be hiding a "dark secret". Matt shocks the residents with the announcement that he is the son of Hilary Robinson (Anne Scott-Pendlebury). Paske told Ian Morrison in Neighbours: The Official Annual that "maybe Matt is a bit too like Ashley Paske" Matt is disappointed when Hilary rejects him because she fears being shamed for having an illegitimate child resulting from a short lived romance. He did not give up his quest to acquaint himself with the Robinson family and forced Hilary to reveal his true identity. With the truth revealed Matt and Hilary forge a steady relationship.
Matt is characterised as a troubled teenager and has issues with his parents. Paske told Darren Devlyn from TV Week that Matt is hard to categorise, adding "he's not good or bad but has a lot of personal problems." He is new to Erinsborough and does not know the local residents. Having moved from interstate to accept the role, Paske believed this helped him to better play Matt as they were going through similar experiences. In one of his first storylines the character upsets his neighbour Mike Young (Guy Pearce) when he uses his bike without consent. Paske explained "He doesn't exactly get off on the right foot because he later finds out that Mike is his maths teacher."
Matt suffers from dyslexia. The character has had romance storylines including unrequited love for Sharon Davies (Jessica Muschamp), a short-lived relationship with Lee Maloney (Maree Ackhurst) and later Gemma Ramsay (Beth Buchanan).
Matt arrives at Number 30 with Hilary, initially as a house guest and surprises Sharon, who is staying there, who was expecting him to be much older and stuffier. Matt quickly makes friends with Sharon and her boyfriend, Nick Page (Mark Stevens). Matt later attends Erinsborough High and agrees to help Nick out in a skateboarding competition against Nick's nemesis, Bruce Zadro (Myles Collins). When Hilary mentions Matt's father in a conversation, Matt, knowing that Hilary is his biological mother, presses her further and she reveals that she had given him up for adoption because she was young at the time. When Sharon begins to get suspicious, Hilary tries to keep Matt's identity secret from her and the rest of the Neighbours. Matt urges Hilary to tell the truth, but she is adamant she will not.
Matt has enough and threatens to return to Adelaide, Hilary thinks he is bluffing and tells him she won't be emotionally blackmailed. Matt is serious and only when he mentions it at the engagement party of Des Clarke (Paul Keane) and Jane Harris (Annie Jones), Hilary reveals the truth to everyone that Matt is her son. Shortly after, Matt decides to change his surname to Robinson. After losing in a practice quiz, it is revealed Matt that is dyslexic. Matt's teacher Mike agrees to help him with his studies. When Toby Mangel (Finn Greentree-Keane) and Tiffany "Lochy" McLachlan (Amber Kilpatrick) discover a house they believe to be haunted, Matt scoffs but when Lochy runs into the house, he follows her to find the "ghost" is teenage run away Lee.
Matt and Lee become friends and he offers for her to stay with him, Hilary and Sharon at Number 30 and Hilary's neighbour, Kerry Bishop (Linda Hartley) lends Lee some spare clothes. When Hilary returns home to discover Lee in a towel and jumps to conclusions about Lee and Matt. Matt quickly invents a story that Lee is an old friend from Adelaide whose belongings were lost on the bus. Once the truth emerges about the lie, Hilary is quick to throw Lee out but grudgingly relents when Matt asks her to let Lee stay. After an argument, Matt kisses Lee and they begin dating. Over Christmas 1989, Matt goes home to spend Christmas with his adoptive parents. On his return, he is suspicious of Nick and Lee spending so much time together. Nick assures him they're just friends and they spent a lot of time together while Matt and most of their friends were away.
Matt's decision to drop out of school and become an apprentice mechanic for Hilary's cousin, Jim is met with initial reservation from Hilary but after realizing it is what Matt wants to do, she gives him her blessing. Barry Dwyer (Chris Waters), Matt's biological father arrives in Erinsborough and Matt meets him at Lassiter's. Matt and Barry have a conversation and Matt decides he doesn't want to complicate things further as he's happy with Hilary and his adoptive parents. After Hilary moves back to Adelaide, Matt and Lee move into a flat but quickly leave when the landlord begins hassling Lee. They begin squatting at the emptied Number 30. After Jim finally catches the couple, he comes up with a solution; Matt stay at Number 26 and Lee at Number 28. On the day of Nick's departure for London, Lee disappears leaving Matt a letter. Matt's 18th birthday approaches and he is no mood to celebrate, but after Kerry and her husband, Joe Mangel (Mark Little) have a talk with him, he feels better and later he receives another letter from Lee, telling him about her new job up North. After an argument with Jim, who is having marital difficulties with his wife Beverly, Matt moves in with Des and Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden) at Number 28.
When Gemma arrives to stay with her aunt, Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston), Matt falls for her and they begin dating. Madge is opposed as Gemma is in her final year of school, but the couple continue seeing each other. After Des sells Number 28 to the Willis family, Matt moves in with Joe and supports him when Kerry is shot dead during a protest. Shortly after Kerry's funeral, Matt shocks Gemma with his revelation that he was in love with Kerry but knew nothing could come of it as she was Joe's wife. Gemma is stunned but understanding, much to Matt's surprise. At the end of 1990, Matt and Gemma are involved in a serious motorcycle accident when Matt swerves to avoid a reversing lorry. Both are taken to hospital, Matt escapes with stitches in his leg, a bruised arm and mild concussion, while Gemma is told she may lose a leg. Tom Ramsay (Gary Files), Gemma's father blames Matt for the accident and tells him to keep away from Gemma. Matt and Tom eventually build bridges before Tom leaves for Brisbane. Gemma's boyfriend, Aidan Devlin (Blake Collins) arrives back in Erinborough, with the intention to win her back. Matt is annoyed by this and punches Aidan. Matt and Gemma then break up and Matt leaves Erinsborough to take care of Hilary's house in Adelaide. Matt later sends Melanie a postcard to say he is enjoying himself in Adelaide.
In 2015, Hilary tells Paul that Matt now lives in Perth with his wife. After a falling out, in which Matt took the side of his wife, Hilary returned to Erinsborough.
In Neighbours: The Official Annual 1991, John McCready and Nicola Furlong said Paske was following in Jessica Muschamp and Anne Scott-Pendlebury's footsteps in a "rise to the top" in making his mark on Neighbours. The BBC said Matt's most notable moment was his "motorbike accident with Gemma." A reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald opined that Paske was just a replacement for Jason Donovan who play Scott Robinson. Rachel Browne of The Sun-Herald said that as Matt, Paske won a legion of fans and became a teen magazine cover boy.
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- McCready & Furlong 1990, p.59.
- "Character: Matt Robinson". BBC. Archived from the original on 23 August 2004. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Browne, Rachel (29 March 1998). "Shortcuts". The Sun-Herald. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 4 March 2012.
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