Less than four months after its final episode aired, Neighbours has been revived. With the soap set to return to screens in the second half of 2023, just how will producers bring back a show whose ending is so fresh in viewers’ minds?
It was February 2022 when The Sun first broke the news that Channel 5 had dropped Neighbours, a move which led to its cancellation. The announcement left producers a matter of months to tie up countless ongoing storylines, and bring the show to a close after 37 years.
Now, Executive Producer Jason Herbison and his team have the task of bringing the show back to life.
The first episodes are expected to air on Channel 10 and streaming service Freevee in the second half of 2023, meaning the show will return roughly a year after its “final ever episode.”
So far, only four actors have confirmed that they will be starring in the rebooted show – Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy), Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy), Ryan Moloney (Toadie Rebecchi) and Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) – with the foursome featuring in the video which announced the show’s shock return.
Actors Takaya Honda (David Tanaka) and April Rose Pengilly (Chloe Brennan) posted to social media to reveal that they found out the news at the same time as Neighbours fans across the world, when it broke at 10am UK-time on Thursday 17th November.
As such, there’s currently no word on which characters outside of the “big four” will be returning. However, Jason Herbison recently told Digital Spy that he hopes there will be “many familiar faces,” whilst confirming that some of the young cast members have already moved on to other things.
So, where did we leave things when the final episode aired at the end of July? Who’s still living in Erinsborough, who moved away, and will any history have to be rewritten to allow us to walk down Ramsay Street once more?
“I don’t see us having to undo any work,” Jason told Digital Spy. “It’s more a case of – what could happen next? The answer is – lots of amazing things!”
Karl and Susan
Just a couple of months before the final episode, it seemed like Erinsborough’s golden couple were about to split once again.
Karl fell for the charms of businesswoman Montana Marcel (Tammin Sursok) and invested $200,000 in her cosmetics business, oblivious to the fact that Montana was in trouble with the tax man and was only after the investment to save her own skin.
When Susan discovered that Karl took $200,000 from their superannuation (the Aussie term for a pension scheme), and that the money was gone for good, she kicked him out. The money was their key to a comfortable retirement, and Karl’s actions meant they’d have to keep working for years longer.
It could have been the end of them, had Hendrix’s (Ben Turland) untimely death not made Susan see that life was too short. She forgave Karl, and she had to, really – Neighbours couldn’t end with its golden couple going their separate ways.
Some of the final “real” lines of the show before Susan’s touching monologue were Susan’s “Karl, I love you,” and Karl’s “I love you too” – a reminder that Karl and Susan are “endgame,” that they would be together for decades after the show said its final goodbye.
Now, with both Karl and Susan confirmed as returning, we can’t wait to see what the coming years have in store for them, with or without that $200,000 in their bank.
Toadie and Melanie
While the final weeks saw a number of the Ramsay Street residents planning big moves overseas, newlyweds Toadie and Melanie (Lucinda Cowden) were simply planning a move elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
Melanie moved into No. 30 earlier this year, but struggled with the constant memories of Toadie’s ex Sonya (Eve Morey). Toadie was honest when he told her that he would always love Sonya, and while Melanie initially thought she could deal with living in the house where they’d formed a life together, it eventually got the better of her.
In the final week, Toadie gave Mel the greatest wedding gift of all when he announced that he’d put No. 30 up for sale. However, when Karl and Susan presented them with a number of video messages from past friends, all begging them to stay in Ramsay Street, Toadie relented:
“Right, well, I guess we’re not going anywhere, are we?” he asked Mel, who thankfully nodded in tearful agreement.
Now, with Ryan Moloney signed on for the reboot, will Lucinda Cowden reprise the role of Melanie? Toadie’s already got three failed marriages under his belt, so we really hope the producers manage to keep Melanie in his life.
Plus there’s the children. Won’t somebody please think of the children? Scarlett Anderson played Nell Rebecchi from 2013 until 2002, while John Turner played Hugo Rebecchi from 2018.
Nell and Hugo are the most important things in Toadie’s life, and there’s simply no way life in Erinsborough would return without them.
Aaron, David, Nicolette and Leo
David (Tayaka Honda) and Aaron’s (Matt Wilson) adventure into parenthood with Nicolette (Charlotte Chimes) dominated much of Neighbours’ final year.
David and Aaron wanted a child together, and initially planned to head to Canada in search of a surrogate mother. However, one drunken night just before David’s flight, Nicolette proposed that she have their baby, and for the three of them to “co-parent” it together in Erinsborough.
It was a decision David and Aaron came to regret, when Nicolette later ran away after suspecting that fiancée Chloe (April Rose Pengilly) had cheated on her with David’s brother Leo (Tim Kano).
Much drama and confusion ensued – Paul tracked Nic down to Canberra and bought the baby for $1 million, but it wasn’t the right baby, as it was actually Leo’s child with a woman named Britney (Montana Cox).
Britney tried to steal the baby back from David and Aaron, prompting Nicolette to return to Erinsborough with the real baby and expose Paul’s baby-buying secret. Britney died after being hit by a falling telegraph pole, Leo struggled as a single parent, and suddenly David and Aaron found themselves looking after two babies.
Then David got arrested after refusing to save Gareth’s life, and, after the police suspected he’d tried to flee the country on a boat, was sent to a maximum security prison awaiting trial.
Some smart thinking from Andrew Rodwell (Lloyd Will) saw David help the cops by gathering incriminating evidence, and he was released. Unmissable Drama, how we’ve missed you.
David initially wanted a fresh start away from Erinsborough, opting to head to New York with Leo and Paul. Nicolette planned to go too, but in the end decided to stay and give things a go with Kiri (Gemma Bird Matheson), prompting David and Aaron to cancel their move.
While the trio would fit right back into Ramsay Street life, actor Takaya Honda previously revealed that he was planning on leaving at the end of his contract.
If it wasn’t for Neighbours’ sudden ending, his prison storyline would have likely led to David’s exit, but things were rewritten and sped up to allow for David and Aaron to get a happy ending.
It would certainly be difficult for Aaron and Nicolette to remain on Ramsay Street without David, with the trio co-parenting baby Isla – but this is Neighbours, and where there’s a will, there will always be a way.
So what about Leo? When Tim Kano returned as Leo in mid-2021, it was believed he would only be sticking around until early 2022. In the end, he was there until the final ever episode, and who knows how long he’d have stuck around for had the show not been cancelled.
Leo’s got family in New York, he’s got family in Erinsborough, and we’re sure he could be happy in either location. However, he’s spent months building the vineyard into a thriving business and has just launched his own range of gin, is he really ready to give that up?
Chloe Brennan and Elly Conway
The final weeks nearly saw a mass exodus, with almost every Ramsay Street house put up for sale. It was only Karl and Susan who had decided to stay put, with all of their friends deciding it was time for a fresh start.
In the end, nearly all of the street’s residents had a change of heart, deciding to remain in Erinsborough. That is, apart from Chloe Brennan (April Rose Pengilly).
Chloe opted to move to Sydney to give things a go with her old flame Elly Conway (Jodi Gordon). The two had a fling a number of years back, and a strong fan reaction to “Chelly” prompted producers to reunite them in the final episodes.
So, Chloe put No. 24 up for sale, where it was bought by none other than Neighbours legend Mike Young, played by Guy Pierce.
As we mentioned, when Neighbours’ return was announced, none of the cast outside of the big 4 knew whether they would be invited back. In an Instagram Q&A, April Rose Pengilly announced that she would love to return to Neighbours, but that “it depends on other projects and the circumstances.”
She also expressed her reluctance to go back to “something like before,” describing it as “all-encompassing and exhausting.” Ideally, she would sign up for “something like a normal show, where we’d shoot for just a few months of the year and have some flexibility.”
“I also think me returning may mean Chelly breaking up,” she added. “I don’t want to destroy our happy ending.”
If Chloe does return, will the producers split Chloe and Elly up once again, or could Elly even be ready to return to Ramsay Street alongside her one true love?
Levi, Freya, Kiri and Glenn
Levi Canning (Richie Morris) and Freya Wozniak’s (Phoebe Roberts) will-they-won’t-they relationship finally became a “they will” in the final weeks, after Levi made a grand romantic gesture on Ramsay Street.
However, as things stood in the final episode, neither have a home on Ramsay Street. Levi was living away from the street after Sheila sold No. 26 to the Rodwells, while Freya faced being made homeless when Chloe decided to sell No. 24 to Mike.
With Mike most likely not returning for the revamped show, No. 24 will be free if Chloe sticks with her move to Sydney.
Could it make the perfect home for the two young lovers?
Estranged father-daughter pairing Glen Donnelly (Richard Huggett) and Kiri Durant (Gemma Bird Matheson) also finally decided where they stood with each other.
Kiri had no idea that Glen was her father when he befriended her at River Bend, but the truth eventually came out with a little help from Paul Robinson.
Kiri made it clear that she wasn’t after another father – Alan, the man she had always believed to be her real dad, was all she needed – and she pushed Glen away.
In the end, the two decided that a strong friendship was the perfect compromise, and they planned to move to River Bend when Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou) bought the resort. However, Terese eventually decided against buying River Bend when she reunited with Paul, leaving Glen and Kiri’s future uncertain.
Kiri would be delighted to remain in Erinsborough now that she’s decided to give things a red-hot go with Nicolette, and we’re sure they could find room for her in No. 32. However, would Glen want to remain in Erinsborough now that his brother and ex-girlfriend have reunited?
Mike Young and Jane Harris
’80s golden couple Mike Young and Jane Harris (Annie Jones) had a sweet reunion in the final episodes, after bumping into each other (literally) for the first time in three decades.
They collided in the Lassiters complex, causing Jane to drop her box of wedding decorations. When their eyes locked as they both went to pick up the box, it was instantly clear that their old attraction had never gone away.
Jane took Mike on a tour around all the old Ramsay Street houses, much to the chagrin of Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine).
Jane and Clive had recently split after Jane discovered Clive had been getting too close to an ex-patient, and, when Clive drunkenly turned up in Ramsay Street in the final episodes, there was just time for one final Neighbours fight.
It was fantastic having Mike Young back for the finale, and his sweet reunion with Jane and tour of the Ramsay Street houses tied together many elements of the show’s past and present.
However, it seems unlikely that Hollywood actor Guy Pierce would make a permanent return to Neighbours, as much as we’d love him to.
So will Jane be a part of Neighbours’ return, presumably having realised that her and Mike’s lives simply aren’t compatible after 3 decades apart? Only time will tell.
The finale also revealed that Mike was the father of Sam (Henrietta Graham), who had been working as Chloe’s assistant at Lassiters over the final few months.
When Sam’s character was initially announced, she was given the name Sam Ellis. However, she was simply credited as ‘Sam’ for her first appearances, before being credited as ‘Sam Young’ once she was revealed to be Mike’s daughter.
The plan was for Sam and Mike to move into No. 24, meaning there’ll be some rewriting in store if Sam returns with Neighbours in 2023.
Paul and Terese
The final year of the show was a pretty tough one for poor Terese Willis.
She and Paul had always had an unconventional relationship, but the Lassiters power couple somehow made it work. It may have taken them years, and Terese may have even fallen for Paul’s son Leo at one point, but it was always a case of when, not if, they would get together.
They married in Queensland in 2019, but by 2021 were heading for divorce, with Paul’s decision to buy Nicolette’s baby for $1 million the final straw for Terese.
It wasn’t a decision Terese made lightly, and she was nearly tempted back by Paul many times, but even after marriage counselling nearly got to the bottom of Paul’s deep-seated issues, Terese knew she deserved better.
In the final weeks, Paul decided on a fresh start in New York, while Terese planned to use her divorce money to buy River Bend, heading off on her own new adventure. It was only in the final episode that they were brought back together, sharing a kiss and deciding to give things another go.
Fans were torn – Paul’s actions went from bad to worse in the final few months, even using Terese’s mum Estelle Petrides (Maria Mercedes) to manipulate her, and many felt like a fresh start was exactly what Terese deserved. However, a happy ending was what the producers wanted, and that’s exactly what they got.
Terese, played by Rebekah Elmaloglou, was one of the show’s longest-serving characters after the big 4, arriving in 2013.
We would be amazed if the producers weren’t knocking down Rebekah’s door to convince her to return, and we just hope that things are a little more smooth sailing for Terese and Paul if their life together does continue in 2023.
Shane Ramsay and Izzy Hoyland
Shane Ramsay’s (Peter O’Brien) surprise return came at the perfect time for Paul Robinson. He was struggling financially in the wake of his impending divorce from Terese, and Shane’s offer to buy half of Lassiters was the perfect solution.
Shane had made millions on cryptocurrency, and wanted to put his money into the community he grew up in.
He was more ruthless than he initially made out, and when he discovered that Paul had done some pretty despicable things over the years, he went one step further, forcing Paul to sell him the entire hotel.
Facing potential ruin, Paul was left with no choice but to say yes. He decided to sell up, head to New York and start a new life there with David, Aaron, Leo and Nicolette, before his last-second reunion with Terese caused him to pull out of the sale entirely.
Shane didn’t leave completely empty-handed. Izzy Hoyland (Natalie Bassingthwaighte) fell for his charms – or rather, his money – and they kissed, prompting her to realise she wasn’t actually with new boyfriend Malcolm Kennedy (Benjamin McNair) for love after all.
She and Mal split, but despite her despicable actions, Izzy still decided to head to the street party after Toadie and Mel’s wedding, where she was seen resting on Shane’s shoulder.
We’d be surprised if either Shane or Izzy make a return in 2023 – but we’d be disappointed if we’ve seen the last of Isabel Hoyland, and we hope New Neighbours lasts long enough for her to cause more trouble for Karl and Susan in the future.
One character who’s unlikely to return is Harlow Robinson (Jemma Donovan). Paul’s granddaughter left Erinsborough in the final weeks, moving to the UK to reunite with her Aunt Harriet (Amanda Holden) after her ordeal at the hands of the Restoration Order.
Not only has Harlow moved to the UK, but actress Jemma Donovan has moved back to Britain too.
It was recently announced that she was joining the cast of UK soap Hollyoaks as Reyne, an “outgoing party girl” and a social media sensation who has already achieved “celebrity status”.
Scott and Charlene Robinson
When it was first announced that Neighbours’ golden couple Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene Robinson (Kylie Minogue) were to appear in the final episode, it was widely suspected that they would return to Ramsay Street to buy up one of the vacant houses, especially when so many started going on sale.
In the end, the reason for their return was never actually specified – in part down to the fact that their return scenes were filmed before the scripts for the final episodes were finalised.
Despite Charlene announcing that they were “home sweet home”, it seems they were just there to visit Paul whilst taking in the party atmosphere at Toadie and Melanie’s wedding reception.
Amazon is known for having some money behind it, but I don’t think we should be so lucky as to get Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue back for the newly rebooted show.
What we do know is that Jason is delighted that Neighbours is returning.
Taking to Twitter, he commented that “Neighbours has helped shine a light on Australian culture, provided endless opportunities for our industry and kept fans entertained for decades! Thrilled to hear that @neighbours will return to our screens 2023 @AmazonFreevee”.
Andrew, Wendy (Candice Leask) and daughter Sadie (Emerald Chan) were the show’s final new family.
Sergent Andrew Rodwell had been around for a number of years, popping up at the police station when the story required, but it was only in the show’s final few months that his wife and daughter were introduced and the three became regular characters.
When Sheila Canning (Colette Mann) sold No. 26, the family became the newest residents of Ramsay Street.
Sadie arrived with a bang when she and best friend Aubrey Laing (Etoile Little) began setting fires across Erinsborough High, framing the school’s newest pupil Zara Selwyn (Freya Van Dyke).
The biggest of the fires left Mackenzie (Georgie Stone) and Zara trapped inside the building, and Hendrix had to rush in and rescue Mackenzie after her broken arm meant she couldn’t pull herself into an air vent to escape.
The inhalation of the toxic fumes triggered a dormant condition in Hendrix’s body, and when he began coughing, a trip to the doctors revealed that he had pulmonary fibrosis. He needed a lung transplant, and while a donor was found in time, his body rejected the new lung.
Sadie blamed herself for Hendrix’s death, and so did many others – she faced weeks of ostracisation by her fellow Ramsay Street residents, to the point where Andrew and Wendy considered selling their newly purchased home.
They put their house up for sale in the final few episodes, but took it off the market in the finale.
The family had plenty of potential, and there were even plans for a younger son, which were scrapped when producers learnt that the show was ending. We’re sure that there was plenty more drama in store for the Rodwells had the show not been cancelled, and we hope they’ll be back when Neighbours returns in 2023.
Amy Greenwood and Zara Selwyn
Amy Greenwood (Jacinta Stapleton) returned to Neighbours for a brief stint in 2020, some 20 years after she left. She returned again in 2021, this time as a regular character, and remained until the very end.
Her daughter Zara was introduced in January 2022, and it took months for the two to form a close bond, with Zara initially worried that Amy’s polyamorous relationship with Leo and Ned (Ben Hall), then later her Drinks Diva business, was taking up too much of her mum’s time.
In the final months, Zara became convinced that Amy was in love with Toadie. Her insistence caused Amy to believe it too, and Amy fled shortly before the end, after revealing her feelings to Toadie and Mel.
Thankfully, she returned just in time for Toadie wedding, having realised that she wasn’t in love with him after all – she just wanted the happiness that he’s got with Melanie.
Perhaps she needs to remind herself of Toadie’s disastrous love life – if he can finally find some happiness after so much tragedy, we’re sure Amy can too.
In the final episode it was revealed that Amy was pregnant, but the identity of the father was kept secret. It had been Joel Samuels (Daniel McPherson) who convinced her to return to Erinsborough after he tracked her down, and a flashback saw the pair sharing cocktails together. Could Joel be the father?
Then, in the video messages in the final episode, we saw Amy’s old boyfriend Lance Wilkinson (Andrew Bibby), who commented that while he’d never got to walk down the aisle with Amy, “there might still be time yet”.
Could Lance and Amy have finally reunited?
The identity of the daddy was intentionally vague, and we imagine that Jason Herbison is one of the few people who knows who it is. If Amy does stick around in the newly rebooted show, will we finally get to learn the truth?
Much was said about the decision to rip Mackenzie and Hendrix apart in the final weeks, with Hendrix dying just days after their wedding.
Mackenzie had overcome so much adversity in her years in Erinsborough, and had finally found her confidence as a successful, happy trans woman who was forging a career as a lawyer, was married to a loving husband, and who had a father who could finally accept her for who she really was.
While some fans were sad that the pair wouldn’t get a happy ending, Georgie Stone revealed that Hendrix’s death had been in the pipeline for some time, due to Ben Turland’s contract coming to an end.
The final weeks saw Mackenzie struggle with her grief, while those around her slowly helped her pick up the pieces. A sweet moment between her and Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), who has experienced his fair share of grief, was one of the first signs that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
She and Hendrix had planned to move in together, with Hendrix’s dad Pierce (Tim Robards) offering to buy them an apartment. She decided to remain on Ramsay Street after Hendrix’s death, but with Chloe deciding to sell No. 24, it was unclear whether she would take Pierce up on his offer.
With plenty of ways to keep Mac around, including the option of her moving in with Karl and Susan at No. 28, we hope we’ll see plenty more of Mackenzie Hargreaves when Neighbours makes its return next year.
With so many unknowns, Neighbours’ Executive Producer Jason Herbison is set for a very busy few months before production begins again.
We can’t wait to see who comes back and what new faces we’ll meet when Neighbours returns in 2023!
Neighbours will return to Network 10 in Australia, Freevee in the UK and the US, and Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the second half of 2023!