Soap Star Superstar: Vivean Gray (Mrs Mangel)

mangel title

What happened to Mrs Mangel?

Vivean Gray played Mrs Mangel in Australian soap opera, Neighbours, from 1986–1988.

Neighbours recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and although I don’t watch it as much as I used to it was a big part of my life while growing up.

Mrs Mangel was one of the main characters when I began watching it around 1987…

Nell Mangel was the ultimate busy body and had to have her nose in everyone else’s business.

She first appeared in 1986 and was only supposed to be in the show for three weeks but the character proved so popular that she stayed for two years. Although she wasn’t in the show for many years her character is so iconic and during her time she was involved in many great storylines. She was constantly fighting with Madge…

At one point everyone thought she had even murdered her husband Len and then later she fell off a ladder, suffered amnesia which was actually quite comical and who could forget the painting…

There was a happy ending for her as she met John Worthington, fell in love, got married and moved to England where she is allegedly still alive and well. This was her last scene…

Vivean Gray was born in Cleethorpes, UK, as one of four to a father who ran a fish and chip establishment but moved to Australia in 1952 after having trouble finding acting opportunities. She appeared in various films but one of her most successful was the chilling Picnic At Hanging Rock.

She also appeared in other popular Australian shows such as The Sullivans and Prisoner but she will always be remembered for her part in Neighbours. The reason she decided to leave the role of Mrs Mangel was due to the abuse she was getting from crazy fans of the show that couldn’t distinguish between fact and fiction. However, it appears Vivean is not entirely the pleasant little old lady in real life and she was not too dissimilar from her character…

“In 2005 and again in 2007 it was revealed that Gray was not the sweet lady in real life people were led to believe, she was described as a very unpleasant person, a busybody in real life and perfectly cast. Gray shuns any ‘Neighbours’ cast reunions saying that she doesn’t want to talk to anyone, or hear from anyone, whoever they are and she just wants to be left alone, also it was revealed she said to a crying baby in a shop in Victoria, “shut up you little sh** “

Is Vivean Gray dead?

Vivean sadly died on July 28th 2016 at the grand old age of 92. Thanks for the memories Mrs Mangel!

Do you have soap star memories? Share them with me in the comments below or tweet me @SteveSays2014

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31 thoughts on “Soap Star Superstar: Vivean Gray (Mrs Mangel)

  1. Its great if not very sad to hear that Vivienne Gray Mrs Jessop from the Sullivans is a recluse in her old age,but what an age and all the best to her why shouldn’t she live in privacy if she prefers it that way. If you cant be grumpy in old age when can you be ha ha

    Does anybody know anything about Vikki Hammond from The Sullivans she played the very glamorous Publican Maggie Hayward I can’t seem to find out much about her I would love to know more about her and if she is still alive ? What about Peter Hehir who played Bert Duggan I would love to know more about him and how he is doing ?

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  2. I remember her character in Neighbours and I was actually a fan of The Sullivans. I think that was because it was set in the late 30s and WWII. I loved the clothes in that one. Maybe that is why I love Art Deco so much. Very classy time

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  3. I read the above comments with extreme caution. Robbie- no offence but I wonder if you are a fantasist? You refer to the neighbours crew as “us” but then admit you never worked on the show! I’ve no idea what Vivean Grey is like in real life but I don’t trust your source at all. Also how likely is it that she would have been in Victoria 8 years ago at the age of 82 when she retired to England years prior?
    It may be that she doesn’t want anything to do with neighbours but that could be because she has retired and is 90 years old!
    Sorry, again I don’t trust a word Robbie says

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  4. Lol !! I know the programme you mean, part of it is on ‘You Tube’, if you look up Sir Les Patterson, that is one hairy arse Neil, but no it’s not mine, I hate to tell you mine is hairier than that, i think mine needs a lawn mower!!

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  5. Robbie, did you mate by any chance appear on a series Dame Edna was in, with Sir Les Patterson, it was the last series Edna made, before just making less appearances, i think Sir Let played a doctor, but I can’t remember, but the patient was in a gown, it was wide open, the patient was resting over a Doctors couch, with his ass fully exposed, the arse was completely covered in thick brown hair, all over the entire ass cheeks as well, didn’t see anyone’s face, just this very hairy ass, which even made Edna pull a face!

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  6. P.S. The reason she didn’t go on a chat show and put over she was nice in real life, because in real life she wasn’t nice, as I say real type casting playing 2 gossips, in Sullivan’s & Neighbours.

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    1. Thanks for your insight on this it’s really appreciated. Perhaps one day before she dies she will come back into the fold so to speak and realise how much people liked her and put to one side all the bitterness!

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      1. Live in UK, in 1987 (possibly 88), she featured in a ‘Aussie recipes from the Neighbours stars special’, in the article, her hair was white! I think she coloured it dark for t.v. i remember sometimes it looked darker on Neighbours, sometimes not as dark. I think she gave up colouring it when she left the show. I agree with Robbie and Dennis, The most nasty gossips are really loved and their have been many, like Mrs.Witton (Crossroads), Ena Sharples (Coronation St.), Mrs.Mack (Take the High Road), Dot Cotton (EastEnders), Miss Watson (Country Practice), all have spread nasty rumours and gossip and are so loved, she left for a bigger reason than for the reason given. I agree they would have done much to try and get her to stay, for the good of the show for a start and later tried to get her back. Some people can handle some fame, but they (Neighbours cast) were thrust full pelt into fame And i agree with Robbie and Dennis she couldn’t handle that amount. I honestly don’t think she will ever go back into the limelight, I read recently she is nearly 91 and in a nursing home! and a recent newspaper said of her “she was uncomfortable with the fame and publicity the show brought her”. It is possible her sister maybe dead now , who became her spokesman at one time.

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  7. Vivean Gray could easily have gone on a chat show or something and people would soon realise she was really nice, but she didn’t because like Robbie said she was real type casting and some of her acting on ‘Neighbours’ was very wooden, one scene springs to mind when she was hit by a newspaper by Madge, after she hit Madge with a newspaper, Vivean Gray’s reaction, crying and running off a ametuer actor could have done better! She didn’t leave the series because of the reasons given, as Robbie says in his comments, she had more fame than she could handle, (until then she was well known and had some fame from Ida Jessop in ‘The Sullivan’s, but ‘Neighbours’ really thrust her on the fame wagon. It was thought that unmarried Gray was in fact lesbian, and any hate was towards that rather than the reasons given, (remember this was the 80’s when people were still anti gay). I agree with Robbie’s comments, no one hates a gossip, not even the real nasty gossips are hated, quite the opposite, they bring in viewing figures, they are very much loved by the viewers, viewers hate to love them, but love them they do. I remember talk going round that the more famous she got, she thought the more papers etc would find bits out of her personal life, I heard she panicked at being outed, quit the show and completely cut herself off from ‘Neighbours’, or any acting. I personally heard rumours going around here in Australia, where I live (and knew many from the T.V industry), they (Neighbours) wanted her to stay, she drew the audience, but she couldn’t handle this level of fame, (and possibly anti gay remarks made at her in the street) and got out of ‘Neighbours’ ASP. I often heard people thought Gray to be lesbian, she has never married and I know she sported short dark hair in reality, (restyled when filming for ‘Neighbours’), sometimes it was difficult to restyle into Mangle’s hairstyle, because Vivean often had it cut shorter, certainly very short at the back (almost like a man). Someone said to me once, she answered female fan mail, (even if the photo cards of Mrs.Mangel had pre printed signature on them!) Robbie mentioned Joyce Jacobs, I agree with him, lovely lady, lived in the same street as my wife Lou and i. not at all big headed, very much down to earth, you would hardly reconise her without her Miss.Watson costume and the Dame Edna specs. and often we chatted to her, one evening, looking nothing like Miss.Watson Joyce Jacobs was all dressed up for a reunion with the cast of ‘A Country Practise’, she loved any reunions! Like Robbie I heard Vivean Gray has turned her back on a return, and they last heard from her, after she left the Neighbours studios for the last time, they (Neighbours) tried to coax her back several times, but they never got to talk to her, Robbie is right she got her UK sister to do her dirty work, Vivean never spoke another word to the ‘Neighbours family’ after she left, not one single word! It was done all through her sister, “leave Vivean alone, she doesn’t want anything to do with anyone, not hear from anyone at all, or even to talk to anyone, who ever they may be, she has asked me to say she just wants to be left alone”. She could be in the UK, I know in 2007 she was in Australia still, her hair was white when someone last recognized her in 2007. She was seen in Victoria in 2005, shopping, where she use to put $12 of wine every week. The shop owner described her as just as unpleasant and nosey, if not nosier and more unpleasant than Mangel and that she didn’t have to act at being a nasty person. Putting it in a nutshell, the fame was more than she could handle, possibly she may have come un-hinged slightly, a little breakdown??? rumours went round she became a recluse, anyway she didn’t leave because she was getting abuse for being a nasty gossip, as Robbie says Soap gossips are loved, however much nasty gossip they spread.

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  8. Ha ha, Profile says your in IT? I do comedy for a living, the shaving foam pies in face routine, or buckets of thick paste tipped over me in comedy redecorating routines, or mishap with raw eggs, done a few TV commercials, even messed up in one of them, advert for soap powder, ended up 2 plate full of spaghetti bolense slowly tipped all down my shirt front and huge bowl of trifle tipped and placed over my head, had to do a retake on that advert!!

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  9. I can’t remember details of the daft bet, can’t remember if we walked down a corridor, or exterior of Ramsey St., all I remember was we were totally naked hiding the front with both hands and the jokes about my arse being so hairy! All the monkey/gorilla jokes!

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  10. You’ve hit the nail on the head, it was something that was very sad, but could have been better, but let’s end my posting’s on a cheerful note, which I hope will make you laugh. I don’t know if you remember but Craig McLachlan (Henry), he did two separate storylines, where ‘Henry’ was left minus his clothes, one story I think it was his stag night, or (bucks night) and he was stripped naked and ended up far from Ramsey Street, minus his clothes! the second story, dressed in only a towel, he trapped the towel in a door to the outside that closed on him, unable to free the towel he had to abandon the towel and run naked down some steps etc. Well on both occasions McLachlan was a good sport and actually filmed those scenes totally naked in front of the entire film crew! I was there on both occasion’s, and i was the same age as Craig McLachlan, (we are both nearly 49 now), anyway when filming was over, as a daftf bet Craig got me and i think Guy Pearce, but I can’t remember for sure , but we joined Craig and stripped off completely, with just our hands cupped over the front, (both hands cupped over as make shift underpants)..What gave Craig and Guy such a laugh was though i was not hairy on my chest, the same couldn’t be said for my legs, having dark brown hair, I was very hairy over my entire legs and i had thick hair growth that covered my entire arse cheeks, so there was Craig smooth as smooth, and me in the middle of them with the hairest of hairy arse cheeks anyone can imagine! (Sorry to much information about my hairy arse, sorry about that)! Anyway hope it gave you a laugh. I left Australia in 2000, live in Capri now.

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  11. My best friend had been in showbusiness all their lives, my friend is like a parent to me as well, as a friend, studios were my second home! Infact studios have been my second home for nearly 50 years. Also I knew a family, who’s friend knew Vivean’s sister and husband, they lived in the same road in Surrey, The family’s grandchild wrote a beautiful polite letter to Vivean, the grandchild asked if Vivean would sign a photo, (a photo the ‘Neighbours’ studio sent unsigned as she had left ‘Neighbours’), her sister sent the photo back unsigned, Vivean had clearly refused to sign it. Vivean by the way is not her real name, it’s Jean Gray, she never married! There have been many gossips in soaps, in the U.K. and Australian soaps, some just as vinegar tongued as Mangle was, but the public loves nothing more than a gossip, however much trouble their character stirs up, though it was never said, I believe she never left because of the reasons given at the time, (many agreed at the time, that was not the true reason, as I say the public love a gossip, however trouble making they are, It was well know Vivean was never married, many believe the huge fame she suddenly had she just couldn’t handle, (remember this is the first time she had such fame), she didn’t even get this amount of fame in ‘The Sullivans’. The more famous you become, the more info about your private life, mags and newspapers try to find out. Many believe she couldn’t handle the huge amount of fame ‘Neighbours’ brought her and that’s why she did her last scenes and never had anything to do with ‘Neighbours’ again. As I say many times ‘Neighbours’ and in fact all things ‘Neighbours’ wanted to include her, but everything was directed through her U.K. sister, “she has asked me to tell you she doesn’t want to see or hear from anyone, not anyone, whoever they are and she has asked me to say she just wants to be left alone”. The U.K. wanted her to visit them, even two of the younger cast offered to go with her, but she refused. As I say it was as if ‘Neighbours’ had never been part of her life, in any way, shape or form. As I say the general opinion is she couldn’t handle the huge amount of fame the show brought her. We heard she got a bad press in 2007 whilst in Victoria shopping, telling a baby he was a ” little shit”.

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    1. It’s sounds like a very sad and bitter end to something that could have been so much better. Some people are only happy when making others sad and that is the way of the world sometimes. Sad but true…

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  12. Don’t you believe it, she completely shunned us all at ‘Neighbours’, won’t have anything to do with us anymore, we asked her back for the last anniversary before the 30th, but she told her family to tell us, she doesn’t want to talk to anyone, who ever they are and to be just left alone, her family is her sister, she is in a nursing home now. She had fans who loved her and were far from nasty to her, but she wanted nothing to do with them and she hated teenage fans, again even the ones who were kind to her, if you were a cat you were in luck, she loved cats. Old Gray’s partner, she might be alive, but not sure. Believe me from someone who knows Gray was typecast, we had our moments with her and with Haddy.

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      1. Hi, That’s OK, it’s just that Vivean Gray was typecast, to be honest in the Australian showbiz world, we had a lot of time for Joyce Jacobs, she was gossip Esme Watson in the soap ‘ A Country Practise’, Joyce was a lovely down to earth lady and adored her fans, though her health was not always good in her later years Joyce loved to attend all the ‘Practise’ reunions, Joyce loved even her very young fans, a fan she loved hearing from was a little boy who wrote and told Joyce he had named his pet goat after her ‘Practise’ character, he called the goat Esme! Vivean as I say shuns ‘Neighbours’, and as I say wants nothing to do with any one, she won’t talk to anyone, or wants to here from anyone, she wants to be left alone, she doesn’t ever tell us this herself, she gets her sister to do her dirty work, ‘Neighbours’ never heard from her after she left the show, no phone calls, the show last heard from her, when she left the studios, after filming her last scenes, none of us ever heard from her again, it was like she had never worked on ‘Neighbours’.

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      2. That’s quite sad that she feels that way. Can I ask, it’s okay if you don’t want to answer, but what is/was your involvement in the show?

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  13. The final section of your blog on Vivean Gray is total nonsense. For one thing, she does not live in Australia – she moved back to England (Shoreham) not long after leaving the show. Second, she is a really lovely lady, as all cast members have always said in interviews (Guy Pearce in 2012 for one).

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