It’s fair to say that Ben & Maggie Astoni (Rohan Nichol & Kestie Morassi) have had a rough ride during their last couple of years in Summer Bay.
Maggie spent most of 2018 battling lymphoma, and the past year has seen youngest daughter Coco (Anna Cocquerel) move to take up a scholarship in Cairns, as well as the breakdown of elder daughter Ziggy’s (Sophie Dillman) marriage to Brody Morgan.
Ben’s shock arrest in July 2019 on drug trafficking charges, after being framed by a sham company he’d outsourced a large surfboard order to in Yabbie Creek, saw him spiral into a deep depression.
This then snowballed into a huge mental health storyline for Ben, which threatened his marriage to Maggie. After reaching his lowest point where he was considering suicide, Ben was thankfully able to seek profession help, and the charges were eventually dropped.
Through counselling and medication, Ben is currently doing well on the road to recovery.
However, earlier this year, Home and Away series producer Lucy Addario teased in TV Week that there was more drama on the horizon for the Astoni family.
“In 2020, Ben and Maggie are in a wonderful place and are able to put the hardship of Ben’s depression behind them” Lucy said. “But something or someone from the past could unravel everything.”
Fan speculation has suggested a return for Maggie’s mother Diana Carrington, the introduction of Maggie’s sister Kate Walford, or even a recurrance of Maggie’s cancer.
But we can now reveal that this blast from the past will come in the form of Ben’s brother, Marco Astoni.
Very little has been mentioned about the previously unseen Marco during the Astonis time on the show. However we do know that when Ben was 18 years old, Marco tried cracking onto Maggie at a party.
When Ben stepped in to stop him, Marco was left with injuries serious enough for Ben to be convicted of assault.
Tim Walter will star as Marco Astoni. Image ©Tim Walter
Marco will be played by actor Tim Walter, who previously appeared on the show back in 2008 as Aaron Copeland, the biological father of Sally Fletcher and her twin brother Miles.
Tim previously starred as Aaron Copeland in flashbacks to Sally & Miles’ childhood.
What cause Marco has to re-enter his brother’s life in the coming months, and what effect it will have on the Astoni family, remains to be seen.
Are Ben and Maggie leaving Home and Away?
In related news, there is strong speculation doing the rounds that Ben & Maggie may be departing the show later this year. Although Rohan Nichol & Kestie Morassi have not been seen filming at Palm Beach since December, this in itself does not add much weight to the theory considering there’s been a production break in that time.
However, on that day in December, a scene was filmed outside the surf club which saw Alf, John, Marilyn, Leah, Justin, Dean and Ziggy all joining Ben and Maggie for what looked like a celebratory lunch.
Photos taken by the paparazzi show Alf appear to give a speech and make a toast in Ben and Maggie’s direction, with Ben also standing up to say a few words.
If this speculation were to be true, then whilst it may come as a disappointment to fans to lose one of the show’s few married couples, it probably would come as no surprise.
With this scene estimated to air around June 2020, it would mark three years (the length of a standard regular contract) since the Astonis arrival in June 2017.
Could Marco be the catalyst for Ben & Maggie departing the bay….?
If you’re heading to Sydney anytime soon, why not take the time to visit the beautiful Palm Beach (Summer Bay) yourself on the Official Home and Away Tour – along the way you’ll get to see such filming locations as the Morgan House, the Pier Diner and the famous Surf Club, and you may even be lucky enough to spot some filming and take some snaps with cast members!
There’s now various options for those wishing to take the tour, including the opportunity to have a guaranteed Meet and Greet with a Home and Away fan favourite, alongside exclusive access to the Morgan House garden on Wednesdays, or lunch with the actor on Saturdays (lunch not included in tour price).
The tour departs from central Sydney five days a week (Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat), and costs $135 per person. Please note that during the month of Feburary, there is both a morning and afternoon tour option on Mondays and Tuesdays, the days where you’re most likely to see filming.
For more information on the tour options, and to book tickets directly through the official tour provider, click here or on the button below.