Spoilers for Neighbors are below.
The biggest “back from the dead” narrative twist in the history of Neighbours has been pulled off; move over, Harold Bishop and Dee Bliss.
This week, the well-liked Australian serial unexpectedly revealed that it would be returning in 2023, with a new home for UK viewers on the free streaming platform Amazon Freevee.
A new season of Neighbours is already in the works, and the production team has already secured the return of legendary cast members Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson), Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy), Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy), and Ryan Moloney. This is less than four months after the show’s historic finale episode (Toadie Rebecchi).
While many further specifics are currently being kept a secret, it makes sense, executive producer of Neighbours Jason Herbison provided some additional interesting rumours in a recent, exclusive interview with Digital Spy.
The news this week really caught everyone off guard. When the season finale aired, were you aware that this was a possibility, or have these developments only just begun?
“We have always said that the show is on hiatus and that we hope it would come back sometime. I had no idea when that may occur or even if I would be engaged.
But the finale received incredible feedback, and Amazon Freevee contacted us about writing a new chapter. It was the most brilliant story twist I’ve ever seen. It was unexpected and amazing.
According to what we’ve heard, you personally went to see Stefan, Jackie, Alan, and Ryan last week to inform them and welcome them back. Can you provide us more background on those discussions? Were you certain they would all return?
It was a fantastic morning. I wanted to personally inform them because the news was so fantastic. I jokingly compared it to The Amazing Race since I plotted everything out on a map and determined the fastest route across Melbourne.
“I began with Jackie, who lives nearby, before moving on to Stefan, Alan, and Ryan. It was unique and moving. They agreed, just as I had anticipated they would. They were all at home, so I believe it was meant to be!
The rest of the cast appears to share our surprise! In the upcoming weeks, will you be contacting other familiar individuals or will a big portion of the cast be new?
“I’m hoping to see lots of familiar people. This is all very new and fresh, as we’ve already stated. I thought everyone would realise that it was respectful to approach Jackie, Alan, Ryan, and Stefan first.
We simply need some time to regroup and prepare the following chapter. Few people, even behind the scenes, have access to this closely-kept secret since it has been kept in such close quarters. The circle has been so tightly packed that I shot the footage with a shaky hand.
Are you ready for the prospect that certain cast members, especially the younger ones, might have gotten new jobs and not want to return?
It’s always been a blend of the old and the new in ‘Neighbours. On and off the screen, it serves as a talent pipeline, and I have no doubt that it will remain so. I am always delighted for young cast members to move on, and I am aware that some of them have. Each and every one of them makes me proud.
Can you at this time confirm that you still possess Pin Oak Court, the actual Ramsay Street location, and the Nunawading studios, which served as the Lassiters backlot and the backyard sets for Ramsay Street?
Nunawading Studios are still available to us. The sets are stored, and the backlot is still standing. There are a few weeds in Lassiters, but we’ll start the lawnmower, and the four stars will be reinstated!
“We intend to go back to Pin Oak Court, but we’re ready for anything. If we do need to make adjustments, I think it will be an amazing chance because this is a fantastic new era.
Can you confirm whether the daily, five-episode schedule will remain the same or change?
“Stay tuned as we have a lot more news coming up. There will be a tonne of new episodes, I can guarantee you of that. We aspire to continue to play a significant role in people’s lives.
Just a few months ago, you and the rest of the team produced the ideal conclusion. How do you feel about having to reverse part of that labour and certain characters’ happy endings?
“We gave the finale everything we had, and I appreciate Channel 5 and Network 10 supporting it. They helped us go out with a bang instead of a whimper, which resulted in this resurrection. At the moment, I thought I had one chance to properly say farewell.
“However, life is full of surprises, and sooner rather than later, here we are. We’ll utilise it to the fullest. We won’t need to undo any effort, in my opinion; the question is more about what might come next. There are many great things, is the response.
Will you use some of the concepts you ran out of time for the first time as you enter the writers’ room this time, or will you approach it from scratch with brand-new concepts?
“I’ll approach it from scratch. Though I’m aware some have already leaked out, I’m sure there are some old ideas that are still relevant today! There is something to be said for beginning over after wiping the board clean. I’ve got a place to start, and I can’t wait to put a team together and get to work.
How did you personally feel about returning to command the ship once more? Was it anything you needed to think about?
“I have always adored the programme. It has a clear connection to my youth, and I’m sure many viewers may relate. If I can, I’ll always try to contribute to its success. In addition, I consider it a tremendous honour since I firmly believe that the programme, even if it is merely entertainment, has the potential to save lives.
“I have an amazing series producer in Andrew Thompson, and I’ll have a terrific team behind me soon. Nobody works alone on it.
“I’m blessed to have the ability to write and create other works. I’m quite thrilled about my upcoming mini-series, Riptide and Heat, for Channel 5 and Network 10.
Despite the promise, streamers appear to have shied away from soap operas and daily episode drops up until now. Do you think this might be a ground-breaking decision that opens the door for other streaming services to consider soap operas?
“Absolutely. Over the years, Neighbours has pioneered a lot of new territory, so it only seems sense that we’d do it again. However, without our audience, no matter if a show airs on terrestrial TV or a streaming service, we are nothing.
New episodes of Neighbours will begin airing on Amazon Freeview in the UK and the US in the middle of 2023. The new series’ first-run rights in Australia will remain with Network 10.