By Mike Hitch
Long-running Aussie soap, Home and Away is in hot water after fans noticed the possible censoring of kisses between fan favourites Alex (Zoe Ventoura) and Willow (Sarah Roberts).
The episode which aired in New Zealand late last year, shows Alex, the new doctor in town, and her partner Willow sharing a quick kiss in a bar before Alex goes to order drinks. However, the intimate moment appears to have been cut out when aired on Aussie television.
Australian fans initially took to social media to share their disappointment and confusion over the edits of the couple who have gained a cult-like following from LGBTIQ+ fans on social media, often dubbing the pair #Willex. Channel 7 however, told the ABC that it accidentally aired the wrong versions of two episodes in Australia due to “human error.”
“As with any television show, numerous changes are made throughout the post-production process all the way up until final broadcast,” the network said.
Channel 7 also said that its Aussie online streaming service, 7Plus, would be updated “to reflect the final versions of those episodes”.
The ABC has reported at least three instances of scene-altering with the lesbian couple between Australia and New Zealand.
In another scene from last year, Willow gives an emotional speech to Alex, saying, “I don’t care if it hurts in the end, because you’re so worth it.” In the Australian version, the scene ends there. However, the pair also share a passionate kiss and plan a trip away together in the New Zealand version.
Twitter fans initially brought these discrepancies to attention. with one also pointing out paparazzi shots of the couple kissing on set as part of filming for a recent episode. That kiss was also removed from the Australian version.
“Doesn’t seem like a good sign that they are cutting dialogue important in understanding how deeply they feel about each other and deleting scenes that show physical affection. Do you think this is censorship? Have H&A fans reacted badly to the W/W relationship?” one Twitter user commented in December last year.
“As if they didn’t think fans would notice something was missing? Cut for time? My foot! Something is amiss,” another fan wrote.
While Channel 7 claims that the edits were broadcast out of error, Home and Away does have a history of LGBTQI censorship.
Back in 2009, a scene involving a kiss between Joey (Kate Bell) and Charlie (Esther Anderson) was censored following media stories and lobby groups criticising the storyline in a ‘family’ show.
Former Home and Away star Ross Newton, who played Greg Marshall in the ‘golden-age’ of the soap in the 90s, opened up about his experiences as a gay actor to the Star Observer last year. It seems that while Home and Away strives for social progression, lingering prejudices could still be playing a part behind the scenes.
“I think we’ve come leaps and bounds – and reflecting on my time on Home and Away, I was told by a producer at the time, for your career’s sake and for our show, it’s best that you don’t talk about this sort of thing,” Newton said.