Neighbours gets a little naughty next week when Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) and Jane Harris (Annie Jones) get frisky after hours at Erinsborough High, only to be caught in the act! Could this derail the blossoming romance between the Aussie soap legends?
Ms Harris, known as ‘Plain Jane Superbrain’ in her 1980s heyday when she was the timid best friend of Kylie Minogue’s character Charlene Robinson, has recently returned to her old neighbourhood and taken up the position of acting school principal, following Susan Kennedy’s suspension as the investigation into her attempted murder of Finn Kelly continues.
Igniting the spark that almost lit back in the spring when Jane made her first visit home since 1989, she and Paul are making tentative steps towards a relationship and on Tuesday 18 December things get steamy with Mr Robinson when he drops by the school at the end of the day to walk her home – only for the usually-mild-mannered Jane to jump him right there in the empty classroom, strangely seized by a sudden desire to get amorous.
It turns out Jane has accidentally consumed some of Dipi Rebecchi’s aphrodisiac tea, and as she and daughter Yashvi rush to the scene realising what has happened they also bump into Susan and fellow sacked teacher Elly Conway, there to clear her desk, and as they investigate suspicious noises coming from the classroom there are red faces all round when they find the Ramsay Street legends getting raunchy!
“They are caught in a very compromising position,” smirks Dennis, talking to RadioTimes.com on a recent visit to the UK with co-star Jones. “Drinking Dipi’s tea causes Jane to act completely out of character and she seduces him!” says Jones. “It was a fun scene to do, the crew are so relaxed which puts you at ease, and some of them I know from when I was first on the show 30 years ago.
“Although it’s weird having to kiss Stefan now after all these years. It’s like kissing my brother!” Dennis echoes the sentiment: “It’s strange when you’re good mates, but I’m enjoying the characters becoming a couple.”
Thankfully, once the dust settles on the embarrassing in flagrante moment and Dipi explains her amorous actions, mortified Jane manages to put it behind her and she and Paul are back on track. The characters go back decades, Jane was Paul’s secretary at one time after she left school, and the actors are delighted at the unexpected progression for their alter egos: “It was a pleasant surprise,” smiles Jones. “There’s always been a nice friendship, a warm fondness and a great deal of history. Jane tends to see the best in everyone so she is blissfully unaware of how villainous and nasty Paul can be so far.
“Opposites attract, Jane brings out the best in him and he probably brings out a wild side which helps get her out of her shell, as we see with this incident. It’s a lovely balance. She was very sheltered looking after Mrs Mangel for years, her ex-husband sounds like a bit of a loser and it appears she’s estranged from her children, so I think Jane is lonely and seeking a life partner.”
Dennis agrees, and reckons Jane could have a future with the Robinson rogue. “Paul’s feelings for Jane are genuine, it’s not just something throwaway to occupy him. He goes into this with commitment. Deep down Terese Willis is probably still the one, but he’s happy with Jane and doesn’t see anything in his future other than being with her.”
Someone who’s not reacted well to the union, albeit with their tongue firmly in their cheek, is Neighbours alumni Guy Pearce, who’s character Mike Young dated Jane back in the day and took to Twitter recently to express his mock horror she had moved on – starting a humorous battle for Jane’s heart between him and Dennis…
“Guy tweeted, ‘Jane! NOOOO!’ and the show’s publicist saw the response it got, so we filmed a clip of me laying down a challenge to Guy to come back and fight for her. And now he’s responded to that, so it might go on from there! Let’s milk it!”
How’s that for an ‘old school’ reunion? Superb catching up with the guys today. Now I’m back off to the airport to fly home. Cheers! pic.twitter.com/hjYB27Pe2U
Thankfully Pearce, who graduated from Erinsborough High to star in Hollywood movies including LA Confidential, Memento and The King’s Speech, isn’t bearing too much of a grudge as he met with Dennis and Jones, along with Jason Donovan, aka Scott Robinson, in London just hours after our interview.
The picture of the four fan favourites reunited, made a huge impact on social media, perhaps they were discussing Pearce’s comeback? Dennis laid down the gauntlet in their humorous Twitter war, teasing: “Paul versus Mike over the love of Jane, really? Maths teacher versus charismatic, charming, extremely good looking hotel mogul? I kind of think I know which way she’s going to swing.” Pearce’s response? “I better start training…” – before the love triangle staged a showdown during their catch-up.