Dee Bliss is back and she’s bringing with her a big secret. This week’s episodes of Neighbours will see Dee reveal where she’s been these last 13 years, but then comes an additional, enormous shock. As it turns out, Toadie has a daughter by the name of Willow, who is set to make her first appearance at the very end of January!
Here, actress Madeleine West reveals all about the bombshells she’s bringing with her to Ramsay Street:
So, Madeleine, this must be the biggest Neighbours comeback since Harold Bishop? We can only hope so. Some would definitely say that – and perhaps it’s even got a little bit more oomph than Harold, given that it’s been 13 years since we last saw Dee.
Had you been asked back prior to this? I’d been approached several times to make a return, but the timing had never been right. But everything fell into place this time around. Plus it came hot on the heels of a survey that was carried out for the 30th anniversary in which Dee was named as the character that people most wanted to see come back.
In fact, her death was even the second favourite Neighbours moment of all time. Scott and Charlene’s wedding being the first. So I really felt like I owed it to the fans out there to give them a taste of what Dee has been up to and what her journey has been.
So, the writers had always intended for Dee to return? Absolutely. The storyline was always left very open, so the intention was always that Dee could return. Since her original exit, I’d been trying to establish my career in various other directions. But I’ve grown satisfied with the number of other characters I’d played over the years and felt very comfortable about stepping into Dee’s shoes.
Tell us about those reunion scenes between Dee and Toadie… Well, there’s an overwhelming flood of emotion from everyone involved. Toadie definitely feels betrayed. The woman he loved and searched for desperately has made no effort – in his mind – to contact him.
However, Dee reveals that she has returned to Erinsborough on a number of occasions, but the timing has never been quite right. Or she’s discovered that Toadie has been with someone else and she didn’t want to interfere with his happiness.
And then of course we have Sonya, who’s presented with the threat of this unknown woman, who she knows nothing about beyond the fact that she was her husband’s first love.
So is this going to cause trouble in Toadie and Sonya’s relationship? Definitely! There are already a few holes in that relationship and they’ll be well and truly blown open by Dee’s return. Dee isn’t returning with the intent of luring Toadie away, but her very presence raises a lot of questions. Old emotions are very much coming to the surface.
Plus, Dee has a very big secret to reveal – tell us about that! Yes, we’ll discover that Dee has a daughter called Willow. And right from the beginning, she reveals that this is Toadie’s daughter and that she was pregnant at the time of the accident.
So, how does Toadie react to the bombshell news? Well, at the end of the day, his true character comes to the fore – that of a loving, generous man who wants to embrace Willow into the family and give her the father that she’s never had.
And who do you think Toadie should be with – Dee or Sonya? That’s an impossible question to answer! They’re chalk and cheese. You have his first love, which was forged in passion but might not have stood the test of time. And Sonya, who has supported him all these years. But if it was Dee answering the question, she’d say, “he should be with me!”
Are you braced for the fans’ reaction to your return? Dee was always such a lovely character, that I’m assuming it’ll be a positive reaction and that the fans will welcome her back onto the show. But there might be some questions from Team Sonya about what kind of havoc Dee is going to wreak on Ramsay Street….
Have you changed since your original time on Neighbours? So much. I’m a completely different person. Now that I’m a mother of six and have been in a relationship for a very long time, I come to acting with a completely different perspective. I have ann understanding of vulnerability and a respect for my work. Especially how wonderful and rare it is to have a job doing what you love. As a young actor, it’s all about the glitz and the glamour and not so much about the essence of the work. So that’s something I’ve learned over time.
And for how long is Dee back? She’s back for two months before she scurries off again. But whether she returns again in the future is very much an open question…