Bringing someone back from the dead is, arguably, one of the great soap opera plot twists.
Now, it’s happening for Neighbours itself — again!
But, as with all good storylines, it raises more questions for next season — like, what did the characters do while they were gone (I’m looking at you, Harold), or will they actually turn out to be their own long-lost evil twin (Dee)?
What do we know so far?
After 37 years on the air, Neighbours wrapped up in July, with a star-studded finale that attracted almost 1.5 million viewers in Australia.
This week, streaming service Amazon confirmed a partnership with production house Fremantle Australia to bring Neighbours back.
Production will start in early 2023, and the new episodes will screen in the second half of the year.
You will be able to watch Neighbours in Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand.
We know four cast members are definitely returning: Jackie Woodburne (who has played Susan Kennedy since 1994), Alan Fletcher (aka Dr Karl Kennedy), Ryan Moloney (“Toadie” Rebecchi), and Stefan Dennis (who has played the ruthless businessman Paul Robinson since the show started in 1985).
What questions remain?
A few big questions remain: what format will the show take, will it be five nights a week, and who else is coming back?
While Moloney is definitely returning to the show, he said he had the same questions as the rest of us.
“Because they couldn’t tell anyone about it, there’s no scriptwriters, there’s no production house going on,” he said.
Some of the cast posted on social media that they were totally surprised by the announcement.
Moloney said some of the cast would have moved on, but he did not think the show will struggle to bring people back, including the hundreds of people who worked behind the scenes.
“I think a lot of people will be like the four of us — like, ‘Of course, we’ll be back, of course’,” he said.
Why has Neighbours come back?
Moloney said despite the big finale, there was always a plan to bring Neighbours back – and it was the success of the final episode that helped.
“The numbers of the last broadcast were just huge and Amazon Freevee have seen that, and Channel 10 always wanted to keep Neighbours going anyway, so I think they’ve said let’s make this happen,” he said.
The final episode, featuring Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, attracted about 1.5 million viewers in Australia alone, and was well received by critics and audiences.
Moloney said fans had not stopped showing support since that final episode.
TV historian Andrew Mercado said he was surprised the return was announced so quickly, but he knew it’d be resurrected eventually.
“I think Neighbours is coming back because you just can’t buy the viewer loyalty that it brings,” he said.
So will we see more Australian content on streaming services?
Maybe. Streaming services are not required to produce a certain amount of local content — yet.
Matthew Deaner from Screen Producers Australia said the federal government was planning reforms in the area, which could see quotas introduced.
“More people are watching content than ever and there is more inward-bound content than ever into Australia, so we’ve got to balance that out by creating more Australian content,” he said.
In the meantime, Mercado said there was a business case for services to give the viewers what they wanted (which it seems is definitely Neighbours).
“I think all streaming services are interested in finding local shows for local markets, and particularly when you’ve got something as well-known as Neighbours,” he said.
What is it like at Pin Oak Court right now?
While Ramsay Street is a fictional location, the real-life houses on Pin Oak Court in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont South are still there.
The grass at Toadie’s house was getting pretty long this week, but was freshly cut when the ABC visited on Friday. A lot of the shrubbery had been cut back around Therese’s house.
But the rose-covered arch is still out the front of the Kennedy house, and not much else has changed — despite the local council refusing a heritage listing for the street.
Basically — it is good to go!
Even the security guard was still there.
Can. Not. Wait.