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Exclusive Interview with Dan Bennett

Dan F

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Alrightly. I cant believe the fact that Dan studied the exact same course I am doing now. I also am astonished at their work experience program, as I thought no outsider would be privy to the script secrets. 

I love that Dan is a true fan and you can see that through his writing. He has a soft spot for those compelling revelation episodes in storylines and knows just how much value they can be, and as such he has written them perfectly (most of them anyway) time and time again. Not only is his continuity and constant nods to the past truly appreciated, I believe that it has set standards that should be upheld by the current and future TPTB in all their documenting/speadsheeting and production of the show. 

I was a little disappointed as to how little viewer opinion matters at HAA, Dan mentions no less than 6 other influences not including the opinions of those behind creating a storyline. When this is compared to how active Neighbours are on their forums and willing to use the input into their show and BTS extras, I have to say HAA is on the backfoot. (I'm not saying agree with everyone or use ideas but maybe use reactions as a lesson for next times?) Dan said he was pleased with the Caravan Explosion, but from my own opinion as well as what I gathered from the boards was that it was a rushed and very messy. We had characters missing, some injured, dead, having limbs chopped off, living then dead, being revealed as a murderer, grieving, having a hysterectomy, helping others grieve and being introduced to new characters too? Too much all at once. Maybe we should have had a special week where we focused on a different group of characters each day. 

I find Dan's was best at portraying very high emotional storylines, as Flynn's death, the Cassie's/Olivia's abuse storylines and the Summerbay Stalker were very highly emotional scenes for the actors to sink their teeth into. He also is great in creating the "soap bitch". Love his work. 

Dan always seemed very good at cleaning alot of stories up and tieing up loose ends as well as propelling new storylines. He knew when to cut or rest something, even if it could divide fans. I can see in hindsight that resting Henry, Skye, sending Irene to jury duty and killing Chloe (whilst I still would have liked her to live) paved the way for us to focus on some classic HAA storylines. I trust Dan with HAA and he was very forward thinking in the creation of eras swell. 

Hopefully we can see some of the 4000th ep scenes that ended on the cutting room floor. However I don't get the comment about using Roo to "fuel" the Duncan thread. 

I also tend to agree that the crime factor went up quite a bit when Dan had the reins, but he admits that and his reasoning behind it seems fair enough. 

I love the fact he spilled about brining Don back. Maybe this was a bad time for Norman and we could revisit this storyline the 30th year, as I hope many storylines are strong and not just a lame blink and miss it hi and bye. I'm also really pleased by Dan's efforts to bring the older folk back to the forefront,especially now with so little cast going on past the 3 year mark (if they even make it that is...(sorry Denny)). 


Dan also has tried to bring fostering back to the front and centre of the show in many ways with a range of success levels. I also think it was a shame Leah's set left and I like the previously mentioned small fire solution that could have worked better, but what is done is done. 

We all understood the diversity comment, and especially placed next to the question about Brody makes it clear to blind freddy that unfortunately Dan's hands were tied. He did have a bit of wiggle room with Nic Westaway, and I think it was nice to let him have some input on where Kyle went. 

If you look at the way Dan answered, you can tell what he is passionate about, and what he may have been slapped on the wrist for or what he regrets. 

All in all it was a FANTASTIC interview. Thanks again to all involved, I look forward to the next one. 

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Great interview, I hope one day Dan Bennett returns to the show and becomes producer of H&A, he deffo deserves such a title.

Good that a Don Fisher return was planned but never panned out, although I would hate for him to come back so he can get killed off when he can live in peaceful retirement playing golf in the Whitsundays, a far cry from crazy Summer Bay.


Dan agrees that the crime focus has gone up in recent years and that Sally leaving was a huge blow, but that H&A can survive without a singular character.


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5 hours ago, joany208121 said:

I also am astonished at their work experience program, as I thought no outsider would be privy to the script secrets. 

The industry is pretty small, with a lot of freelance writers needed on rotation, so they need to encourage home-grown talents where they can.

Given how far ahead the writers work (we're talking approx 8-9 months before the eps air), it'd be pretty impossible for anyone doing a placement to not be privy to what's coming up - they do have to sign confidentiality agreements though, obviously.


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Just read the interview. Great interview, loved the insight. He was very honest, but detailed in his logic of the questions asked of him, and the storylines. Interesting about getting rid of the House, to make Leah forefront of the show, that was a good move. I loved his brunt honestly about the climax of the Charlotte storyline. Gotta respect his honesty. He does acknowledges their is a bit of crime in the show haha. But I agree its about getting that balance. Interesting about his thoughts on the Kyle Exist story. He is right The Last Braxton should of gone to jail. On his own accord. Not taking a fall for some stranger. 

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Thanks for the interview.

Don't think I have seen a longer, more in depth interview for quite some time. So due respect to those involved, BTTB and Dan Bennett.

The unfortunate thing that strikes me reading his responses is that he really likes the OTT-style of story-telling rather than a character-driven approach. I don't mean that as a criticism, as obviously it has worked to draw in viewers in Australia, but I think in the UK we prefer a more laid-back approach which is why I think Neighbours has ended up remaining the more relevant of the Australian soaps over here.

On the other hand, it sounds like Dan has been fighting a losing battle in some respects. Quite clearly he wanted to introduce a gay character into the show and that decision was blocked for some reason.

I agree with the notion that Nic Westaway shouldn't have had a say in how his character was written out, that's what the writers are there for. Not that I'd have liked him going to prison due to his own actions anyway.

One thing I will say is I do respect Dan's belief in his own decisions, and I like that he recognises the story as more important than a particular character. For example, he decided that Sky wasn't working so he wrote her out, likewise he didn't extend the actress who plays Denny's contract, in order to further the story. I commend him for making bold decisions in favour of the story, rather than keeping characters on out of goodwill which many soaps seem to be guilty of.

Shame Don's story didn't come to fruition, but I appreciate the effort in trying to make it happen.

I don't agree that Leah should have been moved to the main house, an idea I suspect was mainly fuelled by the fact she has been on the show for such a long time. It seemed like a predictable move and has left SBH with a messy housing situation.

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Moving Leah into SBH made sense when she had Oscar, VJ, Matt & Evie as well as her and Zac, but really what they should have done is had Alf, Roo & Maddy do a house swap. They should have had a small fire at Leah's, her move in with Alf and then as her house was ready to move back in have Alf say "Hang on,  you need the extra room, we don't, why don't we swap?"

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Thank you so much to Matt and Dan for this incredibly insightful interview.

Whilst H&A is one of the most popular shows in Australia, its rare that we get something with this much detail and with some level of candor. I really appreciated where DB came from, and his knowledge of H&A past, and how this (to some extent) impacted on the story lines he chose to pursue. You can tell he's a fan and appreciates what H&A is as an icon/legacy but also is quite realistic about what is expected of him as a writer of a popular show - that is, to get the ratings. I really respected the fact that he stated that if he was writing the show for the 'super-fan' that it would be different than the one he has to produce for the mass audience. We obviously come at this show from a particular point of view of hard-core fans who know the history and have ties to past story lines with which to compare, and so to some extent are probably the most critical of the writing because we know how amazing it can/could be.

I first got into H&A during the 2000's and so reading this interview was really nostalgic for me, getting to reminisce on the Kim/Barry story, Summer Bay Stalker, and my precious angel baby Robbie Hunter. My interest has always been in the decisions behind why some story lines always seemed to be pushed over others, and my rational side knew that this was dictated by finance and ratings, but to hear it said so bluntly is strange and off-putting but also kind of reassuring? I suppose it also links in to my curiosity about how much fan input and response shapes the show (*cough*diversity*cough*).

Similarly, I always want to know how far in advance arcs are planned and penciled in, and whether things change along the way, so I really liked this insight, particularly relating to the Billie plot and also the Kyle-exit. 

I kind of want to re-read it because it weaves like a parallel narrative to the actual show, and pick out my fave bits because there was so many great insights and moments - so thanks again! 


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Thank you to those involved for securing such an insightful interview, I really enjoyed reading it. 


Now, the "huge Fisher story" sounds very interesting and it's a shame that it hasn't yet played out on screen. Is there a possibility that Norman Coburn will return in the future? Perhaps the timing this time around didn't suit him but he is very dearly missed and we would all like to see him again. Emily Symons has been back for 7 years now so I hope we get to see them together again. 

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