Neighbours’ Sheila Canning comes face-to-face with an old enemy next week when she meets up with high school bully Joanne Schwartz.
But while the gobby granny might not be pleased at the prospect of seeing her again, it’s a treat for Prisoner: Cell Block H fans as Val Lehman is playing Joanne, reuniting her with Colette Mann (aka Sheila) for the first time since they shared a cell as Bea Smith and Doreen Anderson over 30 years ago in the cult Aussie drama.
Preparing to tread the boards for her one-woman show, Sheila gives a read-through to some of the Ramsay Street residents as a rehearsal. As the performance is meant to be a tell-all journey through Mrs Canning’s colourful life, Susan Kennedy questions why there’s not much info on her school days – leading Sheila to open up about how she was bullied by mean girl Joanne.
When granddaughter Xanthe suggests Sheila contact her to get closure, the nosy neighbour dismisses the idea, clearly still traumatised by the intimidation that drove her to drop out of high school.
But Xanthe goes ahead and tracks down Joanne regardless and arranges a meeting between the two women…
Shaky Sheila is soon having a coffee and a catch-up with the poisonous pupil who ruined her teenage years – and nasty Joanne has not changed one bit. Mocking her for attempting a one-woman show and reminding the cut-up Canning about her disastrous attempt to tread the boards in high school, Joanne ends up pushing intimidated Sheila to cancel the performance.
Can anyone convince the blonde battle-axe to put the past behind her and rethink her decision to pull the plug? Is this the last we’ve seen of judgemental Joanne? Perhaps there’ll be a prison yard-style punch-up between the two women for old times’ sake…
Speaking earlier this year about joining Neighbours, Lehman said: “It’s an interesting role because on Prisoner my character Bea was the protector of Colette’s character Doreen, whereas in this story we are very much at odds.”
Of their on-screen reunion, Mann added: “It felt very comfortable working opposite each other again. We whipped through the scenes, maybe because the director didn’t want to mess with us!”
Lehman’s scenes as Joanne will be shown on Channel 5 on Friday 1 December at 1.30pm and 6pm.