Ex-Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas is joining the cast of Neighbours, it has been confirmed. The actor, who played Weatherfield’s Jason Grimshaw for 16 years, will play Rafael Humphreys, a mysterious loner with dark secrets who arrives in Erinsborough looking to escape a particularly difficult chapter from his past.
“I grew up watching the show so to get the chance to join the cast is amazing,” said an excited Thomas today. “I was on holiday with my daughter when I got a call from my agent about the part. I spoke to the producer and found out more – it was very different to anything I’d played before and I can’t wait to start filming!”
Since leaving his long-running Corrie role as buff builder Jason in 2016, which he had played since his teens, Thomas has appeared in Channel 4’s Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, surviving the gruelling challenge until the very end.
The casting is a canny coup for Neighbours bosses, who earlier this week announced a new deal with Channel 5 guaranteeing the show’s future on UK screens – bagging a big name local soap star will only please British fans further. Greg Barnett, commissioning editor at Channel 5, said: “With his good looks and Corrie years under his belt, Ryan is the perfect handsome devil. His arrival in Erinsborough marks the start of darker times for a particular Ramsay Street favourite – prepare to be gripped!”
Images released today show Thomas on set with Olympia Valance and Andrew Morley – does this suggest lone wolf Rafael will be involved with their characters, on/off couple Paige Smith and Jack Callahan?
Thomas will appear on screens in early 2018.
Neighbours continues weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.