Seven, the network which airs Home and Away in Australia, has given an early glimpse of what’s in store in 2023 as part of its annual Upfronts event.
Tuesday evening saw Seven’s annual ‘Upfronts’, an event where the network gives advertisers and partners a preview of what’s in store in the year ahead, take place in Sydney.
It was the first time since 2019 that the event took place in person; it was held online for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A number of the Home and Away cast, including Luke Van Os (Xander), Kirsty Marillier (Rose), Ethan Browne (Tane), Jacqui Purvis (Felicity) and Shane Withington (John) took to the red carpet outside the event, which was held at Hoyts Entertainment Quarter in Sydney.
As always, Seven dedicated a few minutes of its event to Home and Away, giving attendees a small glimpse of what’s in store in the final weeks of 2022 and the early part of 2023.
The network released a statement, promising an unmissable year, tragedy, and some new and returning characters:
Next year promises to be another unmissable year in Summer Bay, with the lives and loves of Australia’s most iconic beachside community thrown into turmoil in the wake of a tragedy that will send shockwaves throughout the Bay.
The high-octane season return will see new arrivals and surprise faces from the past set to shake things up.
About one million Australians watch every episode of this iconic television series on broadcast and digital, a testament to its enduring appeal.
Don’t miss a second of the sizzling hot drama when Home and Away returns to Channel 7 and 7plus in 2023. Home and Away is a Seven Production.
Thanks to eagle-eyed fans who’ve been lucky enough to catch filming take place at Sydney’s Palm Beach, we already have a good idea about a number of these spoilers.
A tragedy sends shockwaves through the Bay
As we’ve already written about in previous spoiler articles, this year’s season finale will see the wedding of Tane Parata and Felicity Newman, but their big day will be marred by disaster.
In August, a number of the Home and Away cast headed to Blayney, a town in Central West NSW, around 240km west of Sydney, to film the dramatic scenes.
Photos taken from the shoot show Leah Patterson’s (Ada Nicodemou) crashed car resting underneath a tree, surrounded by crew members.
Another fan was lucky enough to get a photo with Ada Nicodemou (Leah) and James Stewart (Justin).
The photo showed Leah with blood on her face and abdomen, suggesting that she was indeed in the car at the time, either as the driver or a passenger.
While Justin (James Stewart) was at the filming, there is currently no indication of whether he was in the car alongside Leah, or whether there were any other passengers.
Nephew Theo seems to be safe, however, as Matt Evans was spotted filming scenes at Palm Beach the same week, whilst the other filming unit was away at Blayney.
There’s no confirmation of what caused the crash, but Back to the Bay’s theory is that it may not be an accident.
A few weeks ago it was revealed that the Death Adders motorcycle club, the bikie gang seeking revenge on the Parata family, had ordered a hit on Cash Newman (Nicholas Cartwright).
However, Cash and the Paratas have recently returned to their normal lives, believing the gang drama to be behind them. Our suspicion is that the gang will make a return during Tane and Felicity’s wedding, with Leah likely collateral damage.
With the crash likely to air in the season finale, it will indeed send shockwaves through Summer Bay when the show returns in 2023 and prepares to celebrate its 35th birthday.
While nothing has been officially confirmed, there are rumours of some new characters arriving in Summer Bay in the coming months.
Romance for Mackenzie with a newcomer?
In early October, fan Esther Mackenzie witnessed a number of scenes being filmed at Palm Beach, in which Mackenzie (Emily Weir) got close to a new character.
The pair cosied up, with the male putting his hands on Mac’s face before they embraced.
Mackenzie hasn’t had the best of luck in love since she arrived in Summer Bay in 2019. Her last boyfriend Ari (Rob Kipa-Williams) left her for his ex Mia (Anna Samson), before dying earlier this year.
Will the newcomer finally bring her happiness, or is there more heartbreak in store?
These scenes were filmed in early October, meaning we’ll likely see them on screen in 4-5 months’ time.
Actor Kyle Shilling joins Home and Away
Actor Kyle Shilling has been filming on the show since August. Nothing about his character has yet been revealed, but he has recently been spotted filming alongside Kirsty Marillier, who plays Rose.
Rose also hasn’t had much luck in love since moving to Summer Bay, and she went on to arrest her only boyfriend to date – Tex Wheeler (Lukas Linehan) – when he turned out to be a member of a bikie gang.
Is she set to find love with Kyle’s character when he makes his debut early next year?
Peter Phelps to feature in Tane and Felicity’s wedding
Australian actor Peter Phelps, best known for his roles in Sons and Daughters, Stingers and Baywatch, is set to make an appearance later this year as part of Tane and Felicity’s wedding scenes.
He was spotted by fans watching the on-location filming last month, and joined the cast and crew for dinner at the Royal Hotel Wyong in late July.
While Peter has previously directed a number of episodes of the show, the fan photo taken in Blayney saw the actor in a blue suit, hinting that he was likely there to appear in Tane and Felicity’s wedding scenes, rather than as a director.
Could he be a face from Tane or Felicity’s past?
Surprise faces from the past
As things stand, we’re aware of three existing characters set to make a return in 2023.
Ava Gilbert returns
Justin Morgan’s (James Stewart) daughter Ava Gilbert is set to return to Summer Bay next year.
She made her first appearance in 2016, played by Grace Thomas, and returned in 2018, having been recast and played by Alice Roberts.
Ava was last seen in 2020, when Justin had surgery to remove his spinal tumour. He had initially refused surgery after learning it could leave him paralysed, so Tori invited Ava to visit in order to put pressure on him, which led to him eventually agreeing to the operation.
Deciding he didn’t want Ava around if anything went wrong, Justin had one last day with her before sending her back to the city.
Ava has now been recast a second time. A video from CelebTime, the organisers of the Home and Away Tour, shows Justin and an older Ava at the Coffee Cart, as Maz works behind the counter, and Kirby (Angelina Thomson) and Theo walk past.
Nothing is yet known about what brings Ava back to Summer Bay, but we’re sure Justin will be delighted to have his daughter back in his life.
The shot also gives confirmation that Theo and Kirby stay together. Australian viewers have just seen the return of Bob Forsyth (Rob Mallett), Lyrik’s former lead singer, as he heads back to the bay intending to win Kirby back.
Bella’s back as Nikau leaves?
Courtney Miller has also been back on set filming as Bella Nixon.
Bella left for New York earlier this year after Emmett Ellison (JR Reyne) returned to Summer Bay, where he promptly offered her the opportunity of a lifetime – three months working as his assistant on a big project in New York.
When boyfriend Nikau (Kawakawa Fox-Reo) decided not to go with her, they agreed to give long-distance a go – after all, it was only for three months!
Nikau found their long-distance relationship difficult, made worse by the differing time zones which left them struggling to speak to each other.
Yet despite their communication issues, it was the Paratas’ gang troubles which led to their eventual breakup.
With Tex, Marty and their cronies looking for revenge on the family, Tane decided to send Chloe (Sam Barrett) to New Zealand for protection, while Nik broke things off with Bella so that she wouldn’t return to Summer Bay and find herself embroiled in their drama.
When things finally calmed down, Nik made the decision to head to New York, explain everything to Bella and beg for her forgiveness. It was only when Dean (Patrick O’Connor) showed him photos of what a good time Bella was having in New York that Nikau decided to abandon his plans and let her go.
Now, photos from Palm Beach – the real life home of Summer Bay – show that Bella is set to return.
Actress Courtney Miller was seen filming alongside Lynne McGranger (Irene) at the Coffee Cart, and, while there was no sign of Kawakawa Fox-Reo, we’re certain there’ll be a reunion between Bella and Nik… but just how positive it will be, remains to be seen.
However, there’s another potential development. Kawa, who has played Nikau since 2020, has recently taken to Instagram to post a dramatic hair transformation.
He’s been spending time in LA, where he posted photos of his new bleach-blonde hair.
Returning to Australia, he then posted another picture alongside co-stars Matt Evans (Theo) and Luke Van Os (Xander).
While a hair change isn’t a sure sign of an exit, and it’s certainly possible to incorporate it into a storyline, actors have been known to go for a radical change after leaving their roles.
With Nikau making his debut appearance on 28th January 2020, we’re also approaching three years of the character, and it’s not uncommon to see an actor exit after three years in their role.
Could Bella’s return to Summer Bay spark an exit for Nikau?
Karen Thompson is back!
Dean’s (Patrick O’Connor) mum Karen (Georgia Adamson) has also been spotted by fans watching filming at Sydney’s Palm Beach.
Karen was last seen in March when Dean finally let her meet his son Jai (River Jarvis). Now it seems likely that she’s to meet her newest grandchild, with Ziggy (Sophie Dillman) expected to give birth early in the new year.
Dean and Ziggy recently discovered that Ziggy is 18 weeks pregnant, 6 weeks further along than she thought.
New photos from the set show Ziggy and Dean with a buggy, suggesting that Ziggy successfully gives birth, and that she and Dean are about to become parents.
However, recent filming has seen the pair leave town, Ziggy’s distinctive car stuffed full of their belongings. It looks like the new parents may be about to depart Summer Bay once and for all…
Will there be any other characters returning to Home and Away in 2023? With producers remaining tight-lipped as always, we’ll likely have to wait until next year to find out.
The date of Home and Away’s season finale hasn’t yet been announced, but based on previous years, it’s likely to be mid to late-November. The show will then break for the Australian summer, returning early 2023.