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How Neighbors’ Freya Wozniak became one of TV’s best characters in six months | soaps

Freya’s strength of character is second to none (Picture: Fremantle / Channel 5)

Captivating characters with strong backstories, unique qualities and distinctive voices are integral to just about every type of programming.

When it comes to soaps, however, they’re not just integral, they’re the bread and butter; the very foundation upon which the genre is built.

When we think serial drama, we think of Coronation Street’s Elsie Tanner, or EastEnders’ Ronnie Mitchell. Characters that have been shaped by their past, which, in turn, informs their actions in the present.

Characters with personalities SW strong that one would know instantly how they would act in – or, as is often the case in soaps, react to – any given situation.

Creating new characters so rich in substance is a tall task for even the best of soap producers, which is likely why the genre relies so heavily on stalwarts from years gone by.

With Neighbors set to end this year, there is understandably a focus on celebrating its history, with icons from the past, including Scott and Charlene Robinson, set to return.

The Aussie soap, however, isn’t solely relying on faces from its heydays. Its storytelling is as strong as ever right now, with quite a number of brilliant narratives having taken place this very year.

Freya in Neighbors

Freya has been at the center of some of the show’s best storylines this year (Picture: Channel 5 / Freemantle)

What’s more, many of these storylines have been fronted by newer characters, with a particular focus on Freya Wozniak.

Freya, as viewers will recall, rocked up on our screens back in January with a juicy mystery attached to her, as she lurked around the remains of The Flamingo Bar.

Her mission, of course, was to track down her missing man Gareth Bateman, and she was willing to do just about everything in her power to do so.

As far as introductions go, it doesn’t sound all that unique.

In fact, you might even say it’s rather familiar. But clever pacing, twists upon twists (holding Roxy at knifepoint, anyone?), plus a truly captivating performance from actress Phoebe Roberts has ensured that it’s been cualquier cosa but boring.

Freya in Neighbors

Freya has been at the center of some incredible storylines and moments (Picture: Channel 5 / Fremantle)

This storyline could’ve panned out like many that’s come before, in that Freya was nothing more than a master manipulator, on a mission to get what she wants but totally void of substance – but this simply wasn’t the case.

Yes, it was a plot-heavy narrative, but the work that evidently went into building Freya as a character – rather than just as a plot device – resulted in it also being a character-driven one, and ensured that she had more to offer the show beyond her introductory story.

We felt her guilt as she used Levi Canning to get what she wanted, we empathised with her when she discussed Gareth’s disappearance and, most importantly, we feared for her life when she was taken hostage. Twice.

Coronation Street has proven recently that investing in newer characters and fresh dynamics can pay off dramatically, with the likes of Nina Lucas and Kelly Neelan every bit as compelling as their cobbles elders now that they’ve had several year’s worth of good material.

Neighbors have managed to do something incredibly similar with Freya. The difference, however, is that the Channel 5 soap did so in just a matter of months.

Freya and Levi in ​​Neighbors

Freya and Levi’s chemistry is off the charts (Picture: Channel 5 / Fremantle)

David and Freya in Neighbors

Freya has gelled with just about every character she’d been paired with (Picture: Channel 5 / Fremantle)

Freya feels as much a part of Ramsay Street as the likes of Chloe Brennan or Nicolette Stone, despite having only made her debut in January of this year.

Her unadulterated badassery, combined with her relentless passion to protect the lives of those she now considers her family, has made her one of Erinsborough’s – and TV’s – most interesting additions, without a doubt.

As for star Phoebe, there just aren’t enough words to describe how superb she’s been in this role. Executive Producer Jason Herbison said that the Lie With Me star ‘nailed’ the characterization straight away upon her casting of her, and that pretty much just sums it up.

The nuanced performances that she’s delivered, conveying Freya’s inner feelings and thought processes – often with nothing more than a look or a glance – are just incredible.

Freya is a tremendous character in her own right, and likely one that leapt from the script, but Phoebe’s work ensured that, no matter what chaotic act Freya was carrying out, her actions and motivations were always understandable.

Phoebe Roberts as Freya in Neighbors

Losing Freya in her narrative prime will be one of the biggest casualties of Neighbours’ untimely end (Picture: Channel 5 / Freemantle)

Freya’s strength of character is also apparent in just how well she’s embedded into Ramsay Street, given that she’s gelled with just about every character she’s been paired up with.

Her friendships with David Tanaka and Chloe Brennan spring to mind, as does her chemistry with Levi, which is quite frankly off the charts, making for one of the show’s best romance tales in quite some time.

We’ve rooted for Freya to tell Levi how she felt – and vice versa – hoping and praying that they would get together. After months of a deliciously frustrating ‘Will they? / Won’t they? ‘ narrative, the duo finally made things official, and – again, due to the excellent storylining and characterization working hand-in-hand – the pay off was exquisite.

When the show’s final episode broadcasts in August, we will mourn the loss of TV icons such as Karl and Susan Kennedy, Paul Robinson and Toadie.

Losing a character as rich as Freya in her narrative prime, however, will – for me – will be one of the biggest casualties of the show’s untimely end.

Neighbors airs weekdays at 1:45pm and 6pm on Channel 5.

If you’ve got a soap or TV story, video or pictures get in touch by emailing us soaps@metro.co.uk – we’d love to hear from you.

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