Five Bedrooms star Doris Younane: ‘We’re still sexy at 50’

It’s about time there was a character like Heather.
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There’s a scene in this season of Five Bedrooms where Heather shows Liz (Kat Stewart) how to lift the frail Manju (Kumud Merani) out of bed. Doris Younane, who plays Heather, knew exactly what she was doing.

“I’ve been there, done that, many a time,” she tells TV WEEK. “For five or six years, I was my mum’s primary carer. I nursed Mum from dementia right through to palliative [care].”

In fact, for a while, Doris considered giving up acting to become a nurse.

“For actors, you’re putting yourself out there all the time. You take a hit every time you don’t get [a role]. I was getting exhausted and was thinking, ‘Should I become a nurse? A carer? I can make a change, I can affect people’s lives. That’s not a bad way to go.'”

And then Five Bedrooms came along.

“I remember reading the very first script and thought, ‘Dear God, who wrote this? You really understand a woman in that age group.’ I wanted it so badly, I was scared. If I didn’t get it, I probably would have gone, ‘You know what, I can’t keep putting myself out there.'”

Of course, Doris did land the role of Heather, and her relationship with Stephen Peacocke’s much younger character Ben quickly became the most talked-about pairing in the hit drama, which is now into its fourth season.

Doris, who recently turned 60, says it’s “about time” there was a character like Heather on Australian TV.

“That’s probably why I get the reception on social media I do from women in that age group,” she says. “They’re like, ‘Thank you for finally seeing that we exist and that we can have a relationship outside of a marriage and that we’re still sexy and attractive at 50.’ And that’s the thing – we are.”

With Heather and Ben having split up in season three, Doris says she’s still approached by people, “every day”, who want them to get back together.

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“‘He made a mistake,’ is what I hear all the time. ‘We know he loves you.’ I love that women are so invested in that storyline.”

Doris’ own love story with her husband Billy Papakostantis could have been scripted for a TV drama. She first laid eyes on him when he was dancing in a Greek club in Melbourne 23 years ago.

“I just said, ‘I’ve got to meet this guy,’ and we met,” she recalls. “I couldn’t walk away, he couldn’t walk away. The next day we both said, ‘We’re going to get married.'”

Six months later, they did. Doris is very aware that Billy, who works in the building industry, is “a good-looking guy”.

“When people approach me, they look at my husband and go, ‘Oh, you’re doing all right!'”

She says the producers of both Five Bedrooms and McLeod’s Daughters, where she played Moira Doyle, were keen to get Billy in front of the camera.

“I’m going, ‘No, he’s not an actor. I know he looks like he should be, but he’s not.'”

On McLeod’s, Moira’s long-running love interest, Phil Rakich, was played by Peter Hardy, who tragically drowned in March while snorkelling in WA. Doris says the 66-year-old’s death shocked her.

“It didn’t feel real,” she says. “I spent a lot of time on McLeod’s with Pete – we’d been through a lot together.”

She says many of her favourite memories of playing Moira involved Peter.

“The time when she was pregnant and she lost the baby, all that stuff… It was a joy working with him. I think about him and miss him all the time.”

Doris is open to the idea of a reboot of McLeod’s Daughters.

“I’d kill to get on a horse again,” she says. “There was something magical about that show. I’d never say never, because there are some shows that stay with you: McLeod’s and Heartbreak [High] and Five Bedrooms.”

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