The world of Australian soap operas is a notoriously small one, and it’s not uncommon for actors to move between the country’s two successful continuing drama exports – we’re talking, of course, about Neighbours, set in a close-knit cul-de-sac in suburban Erinsborough, and Home and Away, which follows the goings-on in idyllic coastal community Summer Bay.
RadioTimes.com presents a list of the most notable Neighbours stars to have notched up stints in its rival show, some of which you may remember and others you might have forgotten have popped up in both Harold’s coffee shop AND Irene’s diner…
Current/recurring Neighbours cast
Rebekah Elamloglou (Terese Willis/Sophie Simpson)
She’s been the ball-busting boss of Erinsborough empire Lassiters since 2013 and is the sixth Mrs Paul Robinson, but 30 years ago Elmaloglou was troubled teen mum Sophie Simpson, a fan favourite of vintage Home and Away enthusiasts. She spent three years as a regular, but the actress was already an established child star at that point – never mind her soap past, did you know she appeared in 1985 sci-fi blockbuster Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome opposite Mel Gibson and Tina Turner?
Jodi Anasta (Elly Conway/Martha MacKenzie)
Drama-magnet teacher Elly has been at the centre of some dramatic storylines, much like Anasta’s Home and Away character Martha, Alf Stewart’s grown-up granddaughter who returned to Summer Bay in 2005 17 years after she was given up for adoption by teen mum Roo. Anasta (then known as Jodi Gordon before the actress married rugby star Braith Anasta in 2011) got her big break playing Martha before joining Neighbours in 2016.
Kate Raison (Claudia Watkins/Jennifer Atkinson)
The meddling mum of fiendish killer Finn Kelly has been a popular face on Australian TV for decades, and spent a short stint in the Summer Bay caravan park back in 1990 as Alf Stewart’s bohemian cousin cougar Jennifer, who enjoyed a scandalous fling with schoolboy Steven Matheson.
Debra Lawrance (Liz Conway/Pippa Ross)
Home and Away legend Debra played earth mother Pippa for almost a decade, replacing original actress Vanessa Downing in 1990 and staying for almost a decade. It was a casting coup in 2018 when Neighbours bagged her for the recurring role of Susan’s flaky, boozy sister, mum to Elly Conway and Bea Nillsen. Lawrance and Jackie Woodburne (Susan) are old mates and also starred together in vintage 1980s jail drama Prisoner: Cell Block H, now rebooted as Wentworth Prison.
Terence Donovan (Doug Willis/Al Simpson)
This is proper ‘small world’ time: Jason “Scott Robinson” Donovan’s real-life dad played builder Doug, patriarch of the Willis family, from 1990 and on a recurring basis until 2016, but just prior to that he’d been in Home and Away as alkie Al Simpson, bad dad to Sophie played by Rebekah Elmaloglou, who would later play his Neighbours’ daughter-in-law Terese Willis! His granddaughter Jemma Donovan, Jason’s daughter, now plays Harlow Robinson, Paul’s long-lost granddaughter. And don’t forget Jason’s sister, Terence’s stepdaughter, Stephanie McIntosh recently popped back as Sky Mangel. It’s all about family.
Guy Pearce (Mike Young/David Croft)
We all remember dreamy Mike from the Kylie and Jason golden years (he was Scott and Charlene’s best man, for heaven’s sake), but before Pearce decamped to Hollywood and starred in hit movies like LA Confidential and The King’s Speech he briefly defected to Home and Away to play the doomed love interest of Sophie Simpson (her again!). Their age-gap affair was cut short after just six weeks when he was killed in a car crash, but he lived on when Soph gave birth to their daughter, Tamara, eight months later…
Craig McLachlan (Henry Ramsay/Grant Mitchell)
Another star of the vintage 1980s era, curly-haired clown Henry became laid-back teacher Grant Mitchell (yes, really) when McLachlan was snapped up by rival producers in 1990 just weeks after leaving Neighbours. Grant, nicknamed ‘Cool Mitch’ by the kids, didn’t last long or leave much of an impression, with his most notable storyline involving Dannii Minogue’s character, smitten pupil Emma Jackson, having a crush on him.
Ashleigh Brewer (Kate Ramsay/Chelsea Campbell)
The eldest of the orphaned ‘secret’ Ramsay siblings arrived in the street their family was named after in 2009 to reconnect with their long-lost family, only to meet a tragic end five years later in the arms of true love Mark Brennan when she was shot dead by gangsters. In 2018, Brewer rocked up in Summer Bay as glamorous cop Chelsea Campbell, a love interest for Colby Thorne. Their wedding day ended in a kidnapping and hostage drama, and after six months she left town after her new husband confessed to murdering his violent dad and burying his body.
Axel Whitehead (Zenin Alexio/Liam Murphy)
The ringleader of the fight club gang that got Ned Willis into hot water was a familiar face to Home and Away fans – former Australian Idol contestant Whitehead played rock and roller Liam Murphy between 2009-2012. Fun fact – he’s the host of the Aussie version of game show The Wall, which EastEnders’ Danny Dyer fronted in the UK.
Conrad Coleby (Vance Abernathy/Roman Harris)
Minxy Roxy Willis caused her Auntie T no end of trouble by bringing old flame Vance back into her life in 2019, but the bad boy from Terese’s rebellious past was another Home and Away alumni. Conrad Coleby played ex-soldier turned chef Roman from 2007-2009, around the same time Jodi Anasta was in the show as Martha before becoming Neighbours’ Elly Conway.
Andrew Morley (Jack Callahan/Spencer Harrington)
Recently back among his former flock for Neighbours’ 35th anniversary celebrations, Father Jack has been a fan favourite since he first appeared in 2016 but Morley found fame as teenage runaway Spencer in Home and Away. Starting a two-year stint from 2013, Spencer fled an unhappy upbringing with girlfriend Maddy and was fostered by no-nonsense Roo Stewart who put him on the straight and narrow.
Dieter Brummer (Troy Miller/Shane Parrish)
Summer Bay’s 1990s answer to Erinsborough legends Scott and Charlene were teenage sweethearts Shane Parrish and Angel Brooks. Tragic Shane popped his clogs in 1996 after four years, and Brummer belatedly bagged the Aussie soap double in 2011 when he guest starred as bad boy Troy Miller, old flame of Sonya Rebecchi and estranged biological father to Toadie Rebecchi’s adopted son Callum.