Tom Oliver

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Tom Oliver
Tom Oliver

(1938-06-12) 12 June 1938 (age 84)
Other namesThomas Oliver
Years active1963–2016
Known for

Tom Oliver (born 12 June 1938)[1] is a British-born Australian retired actor who started his career in theatre in his native country, before emigrating to Australia.

Oliver, a staple of the small screen since the early 1960s, is best known for his TV soap opera roles, most especially Neighbours as Lou Carpenter, a role he played for 25 years. The character was known for his constant sparring with Harold Bishop, and his trademark dirty laugh, which he previously utilised in an earlier role on Number 96. Oliver has stated that it was inspired by the comic actor Sid James.[2]

He appeared in the early Crawford Productions police procedurals, before having the soap opera roles in Bellbird, as Tom Grey and in Number 96 as Jack Sellers.

Short term soap roles included Prisoner, Sons and Daughters and A Country Practice.


Early life[edit]

Oliver was born in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, England and started appearing in amateur theatricals as an adolescent in Britain before pursuing a career as a jockey.[3] However, he failed to gain an apprenticeship owing to his size.

British Navy[edit]

He joined the Merchant Navy at 16 and travelled the world, eventually settling in Sydney in 1956. Whilst in the British Forces, he worked on the Pacific Nuclear Testing Base, Christmas Island and so is a member of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association.[4]


Early career[edit]

While in Australia, Oliver found work as a stockman, spending three years in this job, working his way around the country. He subsequently returned to the UK before beginning an overland trek across Asia to return to Australia. However, the journey was halted by illness and Oliver returned to Britain where he contacted Albert Finney who was then planning to produce the film Ned Kelly in Australia in 1963. Finney gave him a letter of introduction to an agency in Sydney and Oliver emigrated in 1963, later becoming an Australian citizen. He frequently visits Fareham, Hampshire to see his old friends.[5]

Oliver became a busy theatre and television actor in Australia. He had many guest starring roles on Australian drama series, appearing frequently in the top-rated Crawford Productions police dramas Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police, and in Crawford's adventure series Hunter (1967).

Oliver was then cast in serial Bellbird, playing the role of Tom Grey from 1969 to 1971, and appeared in the 1971 film Nickel Queen, directed by John McCallum. After this he returned to television guest roles for Crawfords, and other companies.[6] He also appeared in several British TV series at the beginning of the 70's, such as Paul Temple, Thirty Minute Theatre, and also played two roles in the Gerry Anderson series UFO – a doctor in the episode entitled "Confetti Check A-OK" as well as a SHADO technician in the episode entitled "The Sound of Silence".

Oliver also served a stint as a presenter on Play School[7] in 1967.

Number 96[edit]

In 1972 he joined the cast of fledgling soap opera Number 96 playing the role of Janie Somers' new beau Jack Sellars. Back-slapping rough diamond Jack, nicknamed "Jolly Jack Sellars" was intended as a guest character to appear for a run of just three weeks, but the makers of the show were impressed with his performance and the character was made into an ongoing lead regular in the serial.

Oliver became one of the Number 96's most popular cast members. During his run in the show he married fellow Number 96 actress Lynn Rainbow, who played Sonia Vansard and opened a wine bar in Kensington, Sydney cunningly named Jack's Cellar. In late 1973, along with much of the show's regular cast including Rainbow, he reprised his television role in a feature film spinoff of the serial, also called Number 96. Oliver stayed in the role in the series for more than two years, finally electing to leave in mid-1974. He quickly returned to guest starring roles on television and film roles of varying sizes. He briefly returned to Number 96 in the role of Jack Sellars in September 1975. He has been married to his current wife Jan Oliver since 1985. Whilst acting on Neighbours, he owned a Maltese Shitzu called Lou.[5] He is a keen gardener and mountain fisher.[8]

Television and miniseries and stage[edit]

Oliver's film roles included ABBA: The Movie (1977). His primary role in the film is as ABBA's gruff bodyguard; however, he additionally appears in the film as a barman and as a chatty moustached taxi driver shown mainly from behind. Through the late 1970s and the 1980s, Oliver appeared in guest and regular roles in many Australian drama series and serials, including Prisoner, Holiday Island, Cop Shop and Sons and Daughters. He also appeared in the acclaimed miniseries The Dismissal portraying Reg Withers. Oliver has been nominated for the Australian Film and Television Awards for Best Supporting Actor three times. Oliver also acted on the stage, appearing in such plays as The Knack, Cactus Flower, How the Other Half Loves and The Club.[6]


Today Oliver is best known for his long-running role of Lou Carpenter in Neighbours. He first appeared for a handful of episodes as lovable rogue used-car salesman Lou, Madge Bishop's former flame, in 1988. In early 1992 the character was reintroduced to the series and was a key character until 2016. Oliver was written out of the show in 1996 but producers relented after numerous petitions from fans and he was quickly reintroduced. By 2009, he was the show's longest serving character, both in continuous and overall duration. From the 2009 season, Oliver reduced his role on Neighbours to a part-time regular member of the cast. Oliver appeared in a documentary special celebrating the show's 30th anniversary titled Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite, which aired in Australia and the UK in March 2015.[9][10] In 2015, it was announced that Oliver had cut back further on his role as Lou and would only appear from time to time as a guest. In October 2016 it was announced that Oliver had quit the role after 24 years and his last appearance aired in December 2016.[11]

Lou did not feature in the series finale,[12] but there was still a reference to his character in the form of a lawyers' office called "T Oliver".[13] Executive producer Jason Herbison later revealed that he had personally called Oliver to inquire about returning for the final episode, but Oliver turned it down as he was "at a different point in his life now".[14]


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Summer Holiday (film) Unknown roles
1964 Consider Your Verdict (TV series)
1965 Adventure Unlimited (TV series)
1966 They're a Weird Mob Barbecue chef's Friend
1966 Point of Danger (TV movie)
1967 You Can't See 'Round Corners (TV series)
1967 Contrabandits (TV series) Nicholls
1967 Love and War (TV series)
1968 Hunter (TV series) Hans Felburg
1969 Riptide (TV series) Dave Todd, Bruno, Mike Hallett
1969 Good Morning Mr Doubleday (TV series) Episode: "A Friend in Need"
1969–1971 Bellbird Tom Grey
1969 Colour Me Dead Dr. MacDonald
1969–1970 Skippy the Bush Kangaroo Craig, Tex n Ranger
1970 Adam's Women Stacey
1970 Thirty Minute Theatre (TV series) David
1970 Paul Temple (TV movie) Eddy Bates
1971 Nickel Queen Roy
1971 UFO (TV series) Doctor Episode: "Confetti Check, A-OK"
1st technician Episode: "The Sound of Silence"
1971 The Group (TV series)
1971 Dynasty (TV series) Tom Fenwick
1970–1972 Homicide Jason Williams, Jack Smith, Jeff Roberts
1973 Spyforce (TV series) Brian Dorsey
1974 Number 96 (film) Jack Sellers
1971–1975 Matlock Police Charlie, Alexis Katsavakis, Neil O'Brian, Roy Martin
1970–1975 Division 4 Arnie Cooper, Jimmy Harrison, George Morris, Robert Hill, Porter
1972–1975 Number 96 (TV series) Jack Sellars
1975 Ben Hall Long Tom Coffin
1975 That Coffee Lady From Peking Coffee Shop Man
1976 Silent Number (TV series) Stanton
1977 The Outsiders (TV series) Artie Fraser
1977 Going Home (TV movie)
1977 Glenview High Mick
1977 ABBA: The Movie Bodyguard, Bartender, Taxi driver
1977 The Dick Emery Show in Australia Various characters
1977 Say You Want Me (TV movie)
1978 Because He's My Friend (TV movie) Ian
1978 The Truckies (TV series)
1978 Cop Shop (TV series Brian Matthews, Peter Mitchell
1979 Skyways Scott Honeyman
1976–1980 King's Man Detective Sgt. Peter Weston
1980–1981 Prisoner aka Prisoner: Cell Block H (TV series) Ken Pearce
1982 Sons and Daughters (TV series) Andrew Brooks
1981–1982 Holiday Island Wally Simmons
1983 The Dismissal (TV mini-series) Reg Withers
1983 Patrol Boat (TV series) Inspector Forest
1984 The Explorers (TV documentary) Sir Thomas Mitchell
1980–1984 Kingswood Country (sitcom) Clive Lomas – Gerard Homes
1984 Special Squad (TV series) Tobin
1984 High Country (TV movie) Frank Stacey
1986 Call Me Mister (TV series) <
1983–1987 A Country Practice Ray Gardner, Ross Irving, Stuart Moore
1988 The Beachcombers (TV series) Reporter
1988 The Dirtwater Dynasty (TV mini-series) Our Dad
1989 Hey Dad! Waiter
1992 Mother and Son Sergeant
2011 A Girl Like You (short) Kid in Park
1988, 1992–2016 Neighbours Lou Carpenter 2,330 episodes

Appearances (as himself)[edit]

Year Title Role
unknown year of appearance Play School Host
1967 Is Anybody Doing Anything About It? himself
1971 Tempo: In the Seventies Commentator
1976 The Celebrity Game
1979 The Great Train Robbery Performer
1995 Neighbours: A 10th Anniversary Himself/Lou Carpenter
1996 Burke's Backyard Celebrity Gardiner
1996 National Television Awards
2000 TV special Neighbours Revealed (documentary) Himself
2008 Neighbours on Five
2012 This Morning Himself
2012 The Wright Stuff Guest Panelist
2013 Celebrity Juice Himself
2015 Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite (documentary) Himself/Lou Carpenter


Year Title Role
1987 The Right Hand Man producer


  1. ^ Mark (27 February 2007). "The Inane Babble of a Backpacker: Mission Accomplished!!!". The Inane Babble of a Backpacker. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  2. ^ Giles, Nigel. Number 96: Australia Most infamous Address
  3. ^ "Neighbours: The Perfect Blend | Interview: Tom Oliver". The Perfect Blend. 21 March 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. ^ "BBC – Neighbours – Who's who Page 3". 15 April 2005. Archived from the original on 15 April 2005. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "BBC – Neighbours – Who's who Page 5". 21 March 2005. Archived from the original on 21 March 2005. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  6. ^ a b Atterton, Margot. (Ed.) The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Australian Showbiz, Sunshine Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86777-057-0 p 170
  7. ^ "Neighbours: The Perfect Blend | Interview: Tom Oliver". Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  8. ^ "BBC – Neighbours – Who's who Page 4". 21 March 2005. Archived from the original on 21 March 2005. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  9. ^ Knox, David (28 February 2015). "Airdate: Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite". TV Tonight. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  10. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (4 March 2015). "Neighbours 30th anniversary schedule confirmed by Channel 5". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  11. ^ Knox, David (25 October 2016). "Tom Oliver departing Neighbours". TV Tonight.
  12. ^ Rodger, James (30 July 2022). "Every Neighbours star who was 'snubbed' in finale as fans left devastated". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  13. ^ Williams, Kathryn (30 July 2022). "Fans love Neighbours final's sweet nod to Lou Carpenter absence". WalesOnline. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  14. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (2 August 2022). "Neighbours boss addresses finale mysteries". Digital Spy.

External links[edit]