Neighbours goes on location next week when Leo Tanaka touches down in London on the trail of Dakota Davies, former business partner and old flame of his father Paul Robinson, marking the return of British actress and TV personality Sheree Murphy to the cast.
Dynamic Dakota was last seen in Erinsborough back in 2014 having originally hooked up with the Ramsay Street rogue during his murky time in Brazil during the 90s. The couple’s fiery relationship ended when deceitful Ms Davies conned him out of a load of cash after he busted her jewellery smuggling scam.
With Paul desperate for answers on the fire that killed Rafael Humphries’ mum in Brazil many years ago, which the bad boy businessman can’t remember because the brain tumour he had at the time, he realises Dakota holds the key to his innocence and has sent son Leo to find her.
We spoke to ex-Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Murphy about her brief return to Neighbours for a special on-location episode, which airs on Monday 26 March.
How did you react when you were asked back for this single episode?
I thought I was going to Australia, but they came to London! It was a bit disappointing not to be in the sunshine. When I was in Neighbours last time it was winter in Melbourne and absolutely freezing. My old mate Ryan Thomas (ex-Corrie star currently playing Rafael) filmed there for the summer for his stint, it’s not fair! If they ever ask me back I’ll have to demand it be in Australia when it’s hot…
Did you enjoy the storyline?
Oh yes, it was so much fun. I’m based up north between Manchester and Liverpool these days but I’m from London and always visiting family there. We filmed in a lovely location under Tower Bridge. My scenes were with Tim Kano who plays Leo, I’d not met him before but am still friends with Olympia Valance (Paige Smith) who said he was a lovely guy, really cool, and she was right. We had a good time.
Leo meets with Dakota but he’s got an agenda to get information out of her, what happens?
It’s a honeytrap to get Dakota to confess to something that happened in Brazil that Paul can’t recall because of his tumour. There was a fire at one of their factories and everyone wants answers. Leo dupes her into a fake business meeting and it’s all going according to plan, but Dakota is just a little bit too smart for him! She susses halfway through something is not right. Leo is a chip off the old block, but not as smart as his dad! Without giving too much away she turns the tables and leaves them high and dry!
Has Dakota changed?
She’s still involved in a dodgy, double-dealing lifestyle and can’t leave it behind. I don’t think she’s a bad person but she’s in too deep. But she has lots of good memories of being with Paul and I truly believe she loved him, despite how it ended. She has a hard exterior and would save herself before saving anyone else, but there is a softer side too.
Was it nice to revisit the character?
Definitely. I had to watch old clips to remind me about playing her though as it had been a while! As soon as I read the script she was there, it all came back. There are lots of layers to the character, I do a lot of comedy so to play this sassy businesswoman was great.
Are there plans for her to come back again?
She’s still out there! The producers have been kind enough to leave the door open so you never know, and there’s so much history with her and Paul so it’s a possibility.
You were also in Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, is EastEnders next?!
I’m a proper EastEnder, I was born in Hackney, so growing up I always thought if I did a soap that would be the one. The only brush I’ve had was years ago I auditioned and did a workshop when they were developing and casting what became the Jackson family, and got quite far down the line. Maybe I could’ve been Bianca, but nobody could play her like Patsy Palmer!
What would your dream ‘Enders role be?
Probably a comedy character as that comes more naturally to me, I love comedy. Or maybe a Slater? They’ve got cousins everywhere. I’d fit right in. I’ve got the brunette look!
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Neighbours continues weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.