Neighbours fans crown the Most Popular Character

Neighbours fans have crowned the show’s Most Popular Character. For the first time, Back to the Bay asked fans to vote for their favourite characters from the show’s 36-year history, and the results are in.

We have run the Home and Away Most Popular Character poll every two years since 2004, but, for the first time, we’ve headed across to Erinsborough to find out who is the most popular resident of Ramsay Street.

Neighbours has graced Australian screens since 1985, and started on British screens a year later, meaning fans had 36 years worth of characters to choose from. A total of 188 different characters received votes, but there was one character who was a runaway favourite…!

The results are split over multiple pages. If you want to see the top 20, keep reading, otherwise click the links below to view the rest of the results:

Now it’s time for the final countdown, as we count from 20 to 1 and reveal the most popular Neighbours character of all time. Plus, we get some exclusive insights from Neighbours script producers, story producers and writers as they explain what has made their characters such firm favourites.

Without further ado, here are fans’ Top 20 Neighbours Characters:

20. Harlow Robinson (85 points)

Jemma Donovan

You’d think that the granddaughter of a manipulative businessman and the daughter of a murderous psychopath would turn out to be a bit of a rebel. But, when a previously unknown Harlow Robinson arrived on the street, she was the model student and citizen, and that’s how she’s stayed for most of her tenure.

More recently, she’s got a bit more of a bite to her, and her own psychopathic tendencies are being questioned. Did we also mention her mum was a pedantic cult follower?

The last time we saw Harlow, she was harassing Terese on the roof of Lassiters, moments before the hotel manager found herself hanging off the edge of the building. Did she slip, or did Harlow push her?

Whether it’s her sweet goody-two-shoes side that fans love, or the ruthless woman searching for a quick ascension up the Lassiters ranks, the newest member of the Robinson clan has made a good impression on Neighbours fans, and she just sneaks into the top 20.

19. Helen Daniels (86 points)

Played by Anne Haddy

The OG matriarch of Ramsay Street, Helen played confidante to a plethora of residents and visitors that graced Ramsay Street at one point or another.

After 12 years, she passed away quietly, surrounded by her loved ones. However, as the years went on, Helen’s memory was honoured as the loving, honest and caring grandmother… that is until 2009 when it was discovered she had been hiding her daughter’s extramarital affair and secret love child the whole time!

18. Lou Carpenter (107 points)

Played by Tom Oliver

One half of the comedy duo that was Harold and Lou, the mischievous Lou Carpenter always found himself looking for the next scheme, often landing him in hot water. For 24 years, he graced Ramsay Street with his presence, owning the pub for many of them, named eponymously Lou’s Place.

The reintroduction of his daughter gave Lou something to do for a few years after Harold had left, but Tom Oliver wound back his time on the series, eventually leaving in 2016. At the time, he was the longest serving actor.

17. Scott Robinson (109 points)

Played by Darius Perkins & Jason Donovan

Suddenly, there has to be… The lyrics are etched in the minds of Neighbours fans all around the world. Even if you asked the new viewers to the show, there is little doubt that they’d know who Scott is.

One half of the show’s biggest super-couple, Scott originally had a different face before Seven axed the series and Ten picked it up. When the show began airing on its new channel in 1986, Scott had a new face and a new love interest. The rest is history…

16. Mark Brennan (113 points)

Played by Scott McGregor

To some he’s simply the original Brennan, while others describe him as RoboCop… and for good reason. The ever unlucky-in-love police officer never seemed able to make a relationship work… if they didn’t die on him, they left him for a better option, or they just got pregnant to another man (after sleeping with his sister) despite knowing it was his biggest wish in life.

After 10 years, Mark finally got his happily ever after, marrying Paige and having a son Freddie, who they bring up in Adelaide, living a dull life best suited to him.

15. Sonya Rebecchi (116 points)

Played by Eve Morey

Perhaps the most recent incarnation of Mother Teresa, Sonya was a reformed addict who wanted nothing more than to love and care. Meeting Toadie allowed her to do this, and it also reconnected her with her son Callum who she had given up at birth.

Over the next decade, she and Toadie married and had a daughter; she was a surrogate and lost the baby while watching Toadie have sex with his dead wife who turned out to be his dead wife’s evil twin; she then brought up their baby all while running a successful nursery, before sharing a Blake/Meg moment on the beach and dying in Toadie’s arms.

14. Nicolette Stone (117 points)

Played by Charlotte Chimes

Every soap needs a good vixen, and who better than the daughter of a legacy character?

Nicolette, the child of Plain Jane Superbrain, is anything but plain. In fact, from the very first moment she stepped onto Ramsay Street, drama followed. She’d stolen a winning lottery ticket, had been coming out to grandmother Mrs Mangel when she died, and stole a baby… even though it was her baby… it’s complicated.

For a short time, she was taken out of the opening credits and fans thought it meant the end of the character. Luckily, she was back only a few weeks later, and we’re sure she’ll be the cause of plenty more drama next year.

13. Ned Willis (120 points)

Played by Ben Hall

Conceived on the show back in 1994, Ned was the son of Brad Willis and Beth Brennan. When he was reintroduced to the series in 2016, he had bikie ties, as well as a tattoo artistry business, and soon fell for his dad’s new wife, Lauren. Awkward.

Since then he hasn’t done much. That is until this year when he developed feelings for Sheila, broke up with Yashvi and then fell for Amy. Not the Sheila you think, and things aren’t exactly simple with Amy either. It’s complicated…

12. Sheila Canning (162 points)

Played by Colette Mann

Colette Mann could never be accused of playing a boring character. Since her arrival on the Street in 2012 as the meddling Canning grandmother, Sheila has infiltrated the lives of all her grandchildren, both live-in and visiting. If she doesn’t have advice to give, she’s got judgement to throw around.

Unfortunately, she’s been left with not much to do since breaking up with Clive, but part of us hopes that the pair will reconcile one day. After all, Clive can ride a motorbike, and Sheila has never been on one…

11. Hendrix Greyson (213 points)

Played by Benny Turland

When Hendrix first showed up on Ramsay Street, there was doubt about whether he should be liked or not. He was the picture perfect “rich boy”, but as it slowly surfaced that he was nothing like his father Pierce, Hendrix slowly became the new golden child of the show.

His relationship with Harlow dominated his first year, but since he’s come into his own as a chef at Harold’s, the boyfriend of Mackenzie and the newest lodger at Karl and Susan’s place. We just hope the rumours aren’t true about 2022…

10. Charlene Robinson (214 points)

Played by Kylie Minogue

There was no way of knowing the impact that Kylie Minogue’s portrayal of bogan Charlene Mitchell would have on the Neighbours universe. When she first arrival, she punched Scott, who thought she was breaking into No. 24. Little did the pair know that only one year later they would wed in the most iconic Australian wedding of all time.

They had their fair share of heartbreak and angst, but now, 30 years later, the pair live happily in Queensland. Their connection to Erinsborough never fully went away, and their two children Daniel and Madison have both called Ramsay Street home in recent years.

9. Harold Bishop (225 points)

Played by Ian Smith

Joining his beloved Madge in the Top 20, Harold is as synonymous with Ramsay Street as Alf is with Summer Bay. It is no surprise that the tuba-playing good Samaritan has received a position so high, considering he hung around Ramsay Street for 20 years doing very little except just being a caring ear.

After Madge died, Harold floated around doing very little until his family arrived in 2006, with the whole lot being tragically killed off two years later. If you couldn’t find him at the general store, you’d either find him in No. 22 strangling Paul or floating somewhere in the Bass Strait calling himself Ted. Oh, Jelly Belly…

8. Karl Kennedy (261 points)

Played by Alan Fletcher

In his impressive 27 years on Ramsay Street, Dr Karl has played mentor, father, grandfather, husband, and lover to many people. Of course, he has made a few mistakes in his time – Sarah… Izzy… Breaking doctor/patient confidentiality… but if there’s one thing he’s great at its being a doctor… Well, some of the time.

The simple fact is that Karl represents a lot of men that we all know – he truly cares, but he’s made errors in judgement that have hurt other people. The one thing that everyone can be sure of is that after everything, Susan really is his true love.

7. Terese Willis (339 points)

Played by Rebekah Elmaloglou

Considering how much time Terese spends at work, it’s no surprise she’s ‘worked’ her way up this high in the poll. The mother of three has cemented herself as a fan favourite ever since she first stepped foot into Erinsborough almost 2000 episodes ago, and now finds herself running Lassiters alongside her now estranged husband.

She’s been through the wringer – losing her son, having her husband run to another woman, battling alcoholism and breast cancer. Thankfully, she’s finally found the man she loves and is happy… well, was happy. Paul’s scheming has finally got the better of her, and she’s currently back at rock bottom.

Last we saw of her she was dangling off the roof of her workplace, while her estranged husband and his half-brother looked on… yikes! With the Lassiters rooftop now a few stories higher than when Glen fell off it some 30 years ago, will she survive?

6. Chloe Brennan (365 points)

Played by April Rose Pengilly

Being introduced with a fatal illness can be tough, as it gives the actor a sense of finality – one day, they will pull the pin. Luckily, Chloe has defied all odds and is still hanging around, not showing a single symptom of her Huntington’s. It might have something to do with how popular the character is, coming in at number 6!

In her four years on Ramsay Street, Chloe has been a sex worker, a wife, a pseudo-mother, a businesswoman and part of one of the most wanted super-couples in the soap’s history – Chelly. The fans are still waiting for it, hoping for Jodi Anasta’s return to play out the story. For now, they’ll have to make do with watching her pine after Nicolette.

5. Roxy Willis (456 points)

Played by Zima Anderson

When Roxy first appeared, she was the wild child niece of Terese Willis. Thankfully, while she has mellowed, she still has an edge that has carried on throughout her stint on the series. Let’s not forget that she has necked on with two of her aunt’s exes!

Since her arrival, we’ve watched her relationship with Kyle flourish and now they are preparing to walk down the aisle. Awww! However, there’s still part of us that wonders when the series is going to battle the abuse she obviously endured as a child.

4. Kyle Canning (459 points)

Played by Chris Milligan

Since his arrival in 2008, Kyle’s gone through multiple phases. First there was the bully. Then, the friend. Then, the husband. 2016 saw the Canning favourite bid adieu to the street, but it wasn’t long before he was back, and up to his old antics.

Now a successful chef, he can tell you all about “true blue Aussie tucker” while he fries up a roo pie in the tram restaurant. Recently, he’s been through some heartache, saying goodbye to both of his testicles due to a battle with cancer. Roxy proposed as a way of showing her commitment to him, and the pair are set to wed within weeks of the new year, but we hear there are stormy times ahead…

3. Susan Kennedy (526 points)

Played by Jackie Woodburne

Rounding out the Top 3 is matriarch Susan Kennedy. Helen Daniels, move aside, Susan has cemented her position in the heart of fans and RSRs alike. Ever since moving onto the street almost 30 years ago, Susan has been around to offer advice, love and adornment to anyone who was in need. Whether that be because of your husband’s infidelity (she gets it!), the death of a loved one or just a small tiff with one’s child, Susan is always ready with a cuppa.

As time’s gone on, Susan’s been through the wringer. She’s bounced between jobs, lost her memory, battled two other women for Karl, been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis… and she’s even been blamed for a faecal smell in Karl’s suitcase (the durian storyline anyone?) Despite this, Susan’s never faltered and as such has earnt her place, not only in the Top 3, but also as Neighbours’ most popular female character!

Former Network Script Executive Dan Bennett offered his thoughts on why Susan has made the top 3:

“Every soap needs a good matriarch. The moral compass. The one people can come to advice. For comfort. The one who is a wonderful mother. A wonderful friend. The one whose very presence in a room creates a sense of ease because you feel confident that she will do her very best to make things better. In ‘Susan Kennedy’, Neighbours has created all of those things. She is warm, understanding, approachable. 

“She is also a strong, powerful woman in and of herself. Her ability to stand up for herself when she needs to – the Karl (Alan Fletcher) slap upon learning he was having an affair with Sarah (Nicola Charles) is one of the most iconic moments in TV history! She is no pushover because commitment and trust are an inherent part of her character, and she’ll stand up for what is right with as much strength and conviction as she needs to.

“‘Susan’ is, quite simply, one of the best crafted characters Neighbours has ever had.

“And in the extraordinary Jackie Woodburne’s hands, these qualities leap off the screen with a truth and authenticity that only very special performers can achieve. Jackie is, quite probably, the most under-rated performer on Australian television.

“For these reasons and so many more, there’s no question ‘Susan’ is one of the most popular characters in Neighbours history.”

2. Paul Robinson (743 points)

Played by Stefan Dennis

Conniving, ruthless, caring. Three words that don’t tend to go together, but are the three that sum up Paul Robinson to a T.

Everyone’s favourite on-screen villain, Paul has had many versions of himself. From the wannabe back in 1985 to the boss in 2021, he’s played boss, worker, flight attendant, hotelier, father, grandfather, serial husband, lover and even killer. And let’s not forget the brain tumour in 2007 that was really the character’s saving grace.

If there is one thing that’s a given, it’s the fact that he truly cares about those he loves. For every action, Paul has the belief that he is doing what is in the best interests of his loved ones. Now, who could begrudge a father for that? (Hint: maybe one of the basketball team of children he either abandoned or didn’t know about until adulthood!)

Former Script Producer Luke Devenish gave us an interesting insight into Paul’s return in 2004 and why he believes he’s one of the most enduring characters:

“I was part of the team that brought Paul Robinson back for the show’s 20th anniversary back in 2005. It surprises me not at all that he’s stayed on the street ever since and is among the show’s most enjoyed characters. Part of his enduring success is of course down to Stefan Dennis’s always wonderful performance. Off screen, Stefan is full of humour and charm, and he funnels this directly into Paul. Without Stefan’s fun, Paul wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining as he is.

“When we were talking about what we wanted from Paul ahead of bringing him back onto the show, I remember we used a couple of iconic characters from other soaps as touchstones – JR Ewing from Dallas, and EastEnders’ Dirty Den. Both characters engaged in atrocious behaviour and yet audiences loved them for it. We analysed some of their best storylines and got some great takeouts from it – which you can still see in Paul today. He’s not a ‘villain’ in the cardboard cut-out, moustache-twirling sense because he has so many shades of grey to him. His schemes are humanly motivated, and while he certainly takes actions that others wouldn’t, he usually imparts his particular brand of wickedness for understandable reasons. From his point of view, it’s so often about protecting loved ones – which the loved ones themselves don’t always appreciate, of course.

“Another reason Paul is such a hoot to watch is because he always so enjoys what he’s up to. He concocts a shady plan, puts it into action, and then does his version of cackling and rubbing his hands with glee. This is a code to the audience. As soon as they encounter one of those moments from Paul, they know it’ll all end in tears.

“Something people may or may not know is that that when Paul first came back in 2005 it was only going to be for a six-month stint. This gave us licence to ‘go hard’ with him, which is why he ended up clubbing that nasty Gus on the back of the head and leaving him to fry in the Lassiter’s blaze. That’s murder, m’lud! If we’d known Paul was going to be with us way longer, we never would have pulled that move. Within weeks of his return on air it became apparent what a hit he was with viewers, and so the six-month stint was tossed out the window. This left us with an awkward problem. Soaps are very moral universes and there was no way Paul could get away with murder. He could only think he had.

We hoped that viewers would come to see that every calamity that was visited on him subsequently was a form of natural justice for the unpunished crime. Cutting his leg off was the first big one of these. So was the plane crash. I’m a bit out of touch with Ramsay Street these days. Has his leg grown back again? Or is he still proving remarkably agile on his trusty prosthetic?”

Story Consultant and Writer Sarah Mayberry has offered up her thoughts on why – as the only original character – Paul is one of the most fun to plot for.

“Paul Robinson is so much fun to plot and write for because he can do anything. He can be generous and protective and selfless when he’s dealing with someone he loves, but he can also be ruthless, cruel, vindictive and relentless. And he has the money and connections to make things happen. He has a wide extended family, so there are always other Robinsons we can bring in and out of his orbit, and he’s the bridge to all eras of the show. There’s a comfort in knowing he’s there, and familiarity is just as important as bringing in new faces in a serial drama. Everybody loves to watch the bad guy – it’s fun to watch him scheme, and delicious to see him get his comeuppance. Plus the actor, Stefan Dennis, always brings his A-game.”

And the winner is…

1. Jarrod ‘Toadie’ Rebecchi (1035 points)

Played by Ryan Moloney

And the crown goes to… We’re sure that there might be a few who didn’t guess, but even more sure that the majority would. Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi has been a fixture on our screens since he was first brought in as a guest in 1994. Named by writer Liz Packett, who had picked up the nickname through during her time in school, Toadie wasn’t ever meant to grace our screens for long.

Fast forward 27 years, and it’s clear why he’s Neighbours’ most popular character. Throughout his time he’s played a myriad of different roles on the street – who could forget the infamous House of Trouser stint? He’s been loved, been hurt, been shot and paralysed, but his endurance has always been his strength, his tenacity and his love of family, blood or otherwise. All the while, he’s been a guiding light for his friends and family, wherever or whomever they may be.

Ryan Moloney with the ‘Neighbours Most Popular Character 2021’ award

Here’s what Ryan had to say to the loyal Neighbours fans who voted him Neighbours’ Most Popular Character:

“Hey, this is so cool! Thank you so much, it’s a terrific way to cap off 2021 which has been another challenging year.  The entire cast appreciate all the support and love our UK fans continue to give Neighbours and personally, I’m really chuffed.”

Former Story Producer Stephen Vagg offered an insight into why Toadie has come out on top of our inaugural Neighbours MPC:

“Short answer: Ryan Moloney.
Long answer: Ryan Moloney!

“A lot of characters on soaps come in with massively pre-planned backstories, familial relationships and story arcs. As I understand it, Toadie was only meant to be a small part but he caught fire due to Ryan’s skill and a script department that soon recognised they had lighting in a bottle and used it accordingly. Over time a truly multi-faceted character emerged, someone who was prone to get in to trouble but basically good , with a cheeky sense of humour and underlying intelligence, a big heart, a fierce loyalty to family and friends, and a strong moral core.

“The terrific thing about both Ryan the actor and Toadie the character is that you can put them in any story and they’ll work – comic escapades, heartwarming family/community drama, rom com, thriller, tearjerker… they can do it all.

Toadie can be a wingman, leading man, larrikin, sidekick; someone who is both a victim and object of unrequited love, a class clown and high achiever, a dad who is strict/silly/protective, a friend/brother/uncle/son who is sensitive/irreverent/supportive, a deejay, a bestie, frenemy, enemy, corporate lawyer, foster dad, Essendon fan… Toadie is the ultimate utility player. Like most long-lasting soap characters, he’s also clearly spectacularly good in bed.

“I think it helps that Ryan has had such wonderful actors to play off over the years. When you look back at Toadie one thinks of different eras: being besties with Billy Kennedy (Jesse Spencer), a surrogate son of the Kennedys (Alan Fletcher, Jackie Woodburne), the House of Trouser with Connor O’Neill (Patrick Harvey), the amazing Dee romance (Madeleine West), the friendship with Steph (Carla Bonner), the relationships with Callum (Morgan Baker) and then Sonya (Eve Morey), and in more recent years with Nell (Scarlett Anderson) and Melanie (Lucinda Cowden.). (There have been many others – those are the ones off the top of my head.)

Neighbours fans have watched Toadie grow over twenty five years: he’s lost the mullet (although I know many have never gotten over that), buffed up, become a lawyer, found and lost love several times, played the field, been a recluse, become a dad, done a few obligatory stints in a bed at Erinsborough hospital. But he’s still always Toadie. He – and the actor who plays him – are absolute national treasures.”

Thanks to everyone who voted in Back to the Bay’s first ever Neighbours Most Popular Character poll. If you disagree with the winners, don’t worry – you’ll have another chance to vote in 2 years’ time!

To view the full list of winners, use the links below:

Neighbours returns 3rd January 2022 on Channel 5 in the UK and 10 Peach in Australia.