Stefan Dennis reveals how he made Jim Robinson’s Neighbours return happen

What finally convinced Alan Dale to come back after 25 years?

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Neighbours star Stefan Dennis has revealed Jim Robinson’s festive return from the dead is all down to him – and maybe some alcohol. The Aussie soap legend, aka Paul Robinson, revealed to RadioTimes.com on a recent visit to the UK how he’d convinced former colleague Alan Dale to resurrect his alter ego, despite having been killed off 25 years ago.

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“Alan and I have never lost touch. He was visiting me in Australia and stayed at my place, we were slowly getting drunk talking about old times and I said, ‘Come on, come back!’ He pointed out Jim was dead, but I thought, ‘That doesn’t matter, we can get around that – it’s a soap!'”

Dale left under a cloud back in 1993 following alleged rows over salary and forged a hugely successful career in US TV, appearing in a variety of hit shows including the recent Dynasty reboot, Lost, The OC and 24, but Dennis is happy to report any ill feeling between his on-screen dad and Neighbours bosses is now firmly in the past.

“For a long time Alan was adamant he’d never do it because of the past bad blood, but that’s all water under the bridge now. Slowly he was won around. I had a word with Jason Herbison, our producer, and it happened! So it’s all down to me and some alcohol…!”

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Is Jim Robinson coming back to Neighbours as a ghost?

The question remains just how the show will explain Jim’s presence seeing as viewers old enough to remember his exit saw him collapse of a cardiac arrest and die in the Robinson family home. Neighbours is keeping the exact details under wraps, but we can only assume it’s a dream sequence or a Dickensian ghostly surprise – can Dennis shed any more light on the details?

“We can’t say too much,” he grins. “We’ve said Jim is back but in what form? I will say Jim’s reappearance comes at a time when Paul needs some good advice – he is delivered a bombshell from Delaney Renshaw, a face from his son Leo’s gangster past, that has a massive impact on Paul going forward.

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“Everyone is so excited about the Christmas Day episode, we’ve got lots of plots culminating at the same time. Erinsborough comes together at a community Christmas concert, where the amazing Bonnie Anderson (aka Bea Nilssen) gets to sing. Paul isn’t at the concert though – he has more pressing things elsewhere as as we saw in the recent trailer where it looks like he’s digging up a body!”

In the past Neighbours would take a seasonal break from the schedules over December, but as part of an investment deal announced last year between UK broadcaster Channel 5 and production company FremantleMedia the show now airs 52 weeks a year as of 2018 – making it the first Australian continuing drama to broadcast all year round.

“We always acknowledge Christmas Day in the show but we’ve never aired it on the actual day itself until this year, so it’s Christmas in real time for the audience.”

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