Hot on the heels of Madeleine West’s return to Neighbours as both Dee Bliss and twin sister Andrea Somers, the estranged siblings’ mum Heather Schilling (Kerry Armstrong) is also making a comeback as we catch up with the criminal in prison next week.
Disturbed con artist Heather was jailed, along with daughter Andrea, in 2019 for extortion. The girls teamed up to swindle Toadie Rebecchi out of his cash by convincing him Andrea was missing wife Dee, presumed dead for 16 years, only for it to emerge Dee was still alive and she and Andrea were long-lost identical twins, separated at birth.
Dee was adopted by the caring Bliss clan, while Andrea remained with her unstable mum and endured a troubled childhood.
Dee’s attempt to reconnect with manipulative Andrea, who has been sharing a prison cell with Ramsay Street resident Elly Conway, have been somewhat fraught, but on Thursday 11th June Ms Bliss confesses to Toadie she’s sure she glimpsed Heather at the jail, despite her being sectioned last year.
At Toadie’s request, Dr Karl Kennedy visits Heather and discovers she has been transferred from the prison psychiatric unit and appears to be doing much better. Reporting back to Dee piques the first Mrs Rebecchi’s curiosity further, and she then decides to see her mum face-to-face…
Burying his resentment of Heather and Andrea, and how difficult they made life for him and late wife Sonya before her death from cancer, Toadie confides in big brother Shane he’s not sure if he could handle it if Dee wanted to pursue a relationship with her mother.
Dee, meanwhile, is delighted at the progress she and Heather make and makes plans to see her again in the prison visiting room. What does this mean for her tentative reignited romance with Toadie?
Armstrong made Heather a fan favourite when she began the recurring guest role in 2018. At first Heather posed as ‘Alice’, a too-good-to-be-true nanny for the Rebecchis who secretly plotted to kill Sonya to get custody of grandson Hugo, Andrea’s son with Toadie conceived in a scandalous one-night stand.
Her true identity and agenda were soon revealed and the elaborate plot has continued, on and off, since then. Heather was last on screen in July 2019.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com last summer, award-winning Australian actress Armstrong, also known for the hit movie Lantana and 1980s US soap Dynasty, said she hoped fans could forgive her alter ego after it turned out one of her twins was taken from her by the nuns at the convent where she gave birth – without her even remembering she had two children.
“Incredible damage was done to Heather and consequently she has felt lonely and if something is missing all along. She needs to be repaired. People thought she was a sociopath but she has feelings.
“Heather never had an inch of care her whole life, ironically until she met Toadie and Sonya. She just wants to belong, having her child taken left her with an echo of displacement, everything she does is wrong because she has no idea what right is.
“I’ve loved playing her, I always want to tell stories that life the audience out of their seats. If she returned I’d like there to be forgiveness.”
Can Toadie draw a line under Andrea’s actions? Has she really changed? And could her return spell the end of his rekindled relationship with his first love?