Francis Bell as Max Ramsay.

Wayne Francis Earl Bell (18 April 1944 - 3 May 1994) was a New Zealand born Australian actor who played the original character of patriarch Max Ramsay from Episode 1 - 18 March 1985 to Episode 245 - 2 May 1986.

Pre Neighbours careerEdit

Francis Bell was born Wayne Francis Earl Bell on the 18th April 1944 in Cambridge, New Zealand. He was of Scottish and Ulster ancestry, his maternal grandparents were Scottish immigrants to New Zealand. Francis moved to Australia and trained as an actor. He had previously appeared in small roles in serials The Sullivans and A Country Practice, but Neighbours was his first permanent role.


Franics Bell joined the cast of Neighbours in late 1984 after landing the role of uncouth plumber Max Ramsay. Filming began in January 1985. Francis Bell played a major role as the shouty patriarch of the Ramsay family for over a year, although he was initially destined for a very long run in the show.

Francis took sick leave due to a bad back in around March 1986, and during his sick leave he decided to quit the show completely. Francis said he had recently considered resigning but his back problem and sick leave is what made him decide to not return to the show, and he decided to leave for good while on sick leave after having completed 245 episodes (although of course he may not have appeared in every single one). So, his contract was terminated during his sick leave. As a result of this, his character never got a proper farewell episode. According to James Oram's 1988 book Neighbours: Behind the Scenes, actors contracts are written in such a way that they can be written out at short notice.

The Neighbours Behind The Scenes book also said that Francis also felt that he was not paid enough, due to the long hours and playing such a major role in the show.

Max's final episode was Episode 245 - 2 May 1986. Max was later said to have gone to Brisbane to see his estranged wife Maria Ramsay and they later reconciled, and Max decided not to return to Erinsborough. Due to Francis' sudden departure from the show, the scriptwriters hastily introduced Gary Files as Max's brother Tom Ramsay to cover for Max's plumbing business while Max was away, and then Max phoning Tom to say he was staying in Brisbane. The scriptwriters crossed out dialogue given for "Max" and replaced it with "Tom". Max's share of No 24 Ramsay Street was later sold to Tom then to Harold Bishop.

Francis attended the gala celebrating the 1000th episode of Neighbours in 1989. The celebration was televised.

After NeighboursEdit

Naybers francis bell 1989

Francis Bell at the Neighbours 1000th episode celebrations in 1989.

While suffering a bad back, and having just left Neighbours, Francis Bell married Monica Dare in April 1986 but the marriage did not last long, and they split about 6 months later. Francis then returned to New Zealand.

Francis Bell's first post Neighbours TV role was a voiceover in the TV series, Rubbery Figures. He then played Sharkey in Bushfire Moon, a 1987 film.

He attended the Neighbours 1000th anniversary celebrations in July 1989.

Francis's 1990s TV credits include The End Of The Golden Weather and as Paddy in Absent Without Leave in 1992. His last TV role was as the voice of Blackjack in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

On the 3rd May 1994, aged 50, Francis Bell died after jumping from an 11 storey building in New Zealand, originally stated to be accidental, he had been suffering severe depression in the last weeks of his life. On the day he died, he had asked a caretaker for the lifts, and was last seen getting into them. His body was found in the car park later on, and it became obvious that he had jumped from the roof. The police ruled out suspicious circumstances.

He was buried at Purewa Cemetery on the 9th May 1994.