I'm a very friendly Neighbour now
BILLY the Kid is finally growing up.
The days when the only creature that 15-year-old Billy cuddled was Casserole the sheep are over.
Soap opera’s saddest teenager has put away his silly hats, over-sized shorts and fishing net… and fallen in love.
“It’s about time,” says Jesse Spencer, who plays Billy in Neighbours (BBC1, 1.40pm). “At last he’s acting his age. Getting a girlfriend should help him become a bit more mature. He’s not going to be the naive country boy any longer.”
“There’s no doubt Billy’s completely smitten,” adds Jesse, who says with school work and Neighbours he has no time for real-life romance.
But he hardly needs it: things are moving so quickly for him on screen. Billy’s romance with school pal Melissa might have got off to a shaky start, but by early April things are set to get steamy.
“His dad gives him such a hard time that the relationship seems doomed at first,” says 17-year-old Jesse, who lives with his parents in Melbourne.
“I’d go spare if my family – I have two older brothers and a younger sister – was like Billy’s. But we all get on well.”
“Jesse’s family is English by descent, but his great-grandfather emigrated to Australia to mine for gold. “He never made his fortune!” says Jesse who struck showbiz gold when he was 14 and sang on a TV talent show called Down Under.
Yet his first audition for Neighbours was unsuccessful. “In 1994 I tried for the role of Brett Stark but they said I was too young. I didn’t give up, though, and the next year I tried for Billy and got lucky.”
Jesse’s vocal talents will soon be on display in Ramsay Street. Billy and his Dad are set to enter a talent competition.
An Australian soap star with a talent of hitting the high notes… you’d be forgiven for comparing Jesse with Jason Donovan or Kylie Minogue.
But Jesse himself is having none of it: “I don’t have any plans to be another Neighbours star turned pop singer – not yet at least!”