It was a milestone year for Neighbours in 2020 with the big 35th anniversary proving to be a hit with viewers and the soap overcoming any pandemic woes to bring viewers the soap they love.
Despite a short delay between UK and Australia's outputs, it seems we're in for a treat when the soap returns in 2021.
With big-name returnees, a possible death on the way and some surprises from fan-favourites, showrunner Jason Herbison and the Neighbours cast have teased what we can expect from the coming year – and who could be rocking back up to Ramsay Street.
Karl and Susan
It has been a rough 2020 for Karl and Susan Kennedy (Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne) but just because it is a new year, don't expect things to start running any smoother for them.
"Karl and Susan’s marriage will remain strong, but there will be fresh challenges as the year unfolds. Now that Hendrix is under their roof, it’s a safe bet that any trouble he gets into will have consequences for them. We’re also in the midst of filming a major storyline for them that will air in the early spring, involving the return of a character from the recent past."
As for who that character from the recent past is, start speculating now!
The return of Amy Greenwood
Amy Greenwood (Jacinta Stapleton) is back on UK screens in the opening weeks of 2021 and she will instantly remind everyone why she was such a great character when she was first on the show.
"The late ’90s are back and her name is Amy Greenwood! She’s a force of nature and will be touching the lives of many residents, including her old mate Toadie. We are also revisiting a character from the late 80s – someone who left a very distinctive mark on Ramsay Street back in the day. It really has felt like a time warp on set, particularly when this character reunites them with Jane, Clive and Paul."
We assume that late 80s return is Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden) who has been confirmed to be making a comeback, we'll just have to wait and see whether she shares the screen with the characters mentioned. It is worth mentioning that Melanie did not share many scenes with Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine) back in the day so this could be someone else...
More trouble from Nicolette?
Jane came back on the show full-time in 2020 and she was joined by her daughter, the troublesome Nicolette Stone (Charlotte Chimes). She has been making many waves across Ramsay Street since turning up and is about to enter a surrogacy storyline with Aaron Brennan and David Tanaka (Matt Wilson and Takaya Honda).
"Jane and Nicolette’s relationship is deliciously flawed so there will be ups and downs, however, they definitely want to be in each other's lives. Jane isn’t always a fan of Nicolette’s decisions and therein lies the conflict. Annie and Charlotte have developed great chemistry and we love watching them together.
"Nicolette has more than a few shades of Izzy about her, though she is not without redeeming qualities. Like many people, she just wants love and acceptance but her life hasn’t been easy and some unhealthy behaviours have set in. There is always the potential for her worst instincts to be unleashed but at the heart, it’s all coming from insecurity."
The Rebecchi family saga continues
Shane and Dipi Rebecchi (Nicholas Coghlan and Sharon Johal) have seen their marriage fall apart thanks to drug use and an affair this year and it seems that there will not be an easy fix and reuniting these two in the New Year.
"Shane and Dipi’s twenty-year marriage combusted in spectacular style in 2020 and the coming year will be about finding the way forward – will that be as a couple or separate entities? They are both facing major life questions which are very identifiable. They also have the added complication of their son Jay’s arrival. It turns out he’s not exactly the model son they believe him to be."
Kirsha will also be back too and actress Vani Dhir has been speaking to us about her return stint, and the shock of finding out how bad things have gotten with her parents. On her mum's affair, she said: "It definitely was a shock for Kirsha because she has been away for so long and wasn’t aware of how bad it got but I don’t think she blames or has anything against her mum because she knows that her mum knows that it was a mistake and she will never hold that against her.
"I don’t think Kirsha is on any sides, she blames both of them because she acknowledges that they both made mistakes, however, she has faith that both her mum and dad can see past each other's mistakes and try to work it out."
What's next for Roxy?
Roxy has calmed somewhat since her introduction and has gone on to become a fan-favourite. Now in a relationship with Kyle Canning (Chris Milligan), Jason has teased a storyline on the way for her and whether we are likely to see more of her iconic family back on the street.
"Roxy has developed into a classic Neighbours character and we love her. Unfortunately, she will soon make a very fateful mistake which will have far-reaching implications for Kyle and several of her neighbours. It was great to see her mum Gemma return and we’d love to see Adam back one day too.
"Gaby is another family member who has long been on my radar. Roxy’s actually our only link to the iconic Ramsay family and that’s something we are keen to explore further. We are overdue the return of some Ramsay’s, don’t you think?"
Paul v Nicolette?
Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) never has a quiet time and is always getting into feuds over his family – normally with them. That will not change in 2021, but he may have met his match in Nicolette...
"Paul is always at the epicentre of stories and 2021 will be no different. His Achilles heel is his family and we’ve already seen him express doubts about David and Aaron having a baby with Nicolette. Unfortunately for Paul, Nicolette is not afraid to stand up to him and the battle lines will be drawn. He is also very protective of Harlow and isn’t shy about interfering in her life, whether she wants him to or not."
One character that is mentioned a lot by fans is Glen Donnely (Richard Hugget), Paul's half brother who has many reasons to hold a grudge. On the chances of him returning, Jason as not ruled it out and seems confident he will appear at some point.
"We actually speak about Glen Donnely every single year and I’m sure we will see him return at some point. I have to keep a few of these up my sleeve as I’m running out of people to bring back!"
Another death on the way?
Last year saw two big Neighbours deaths as Gary Canning (Damien Richardson) and Finn Kelly (Rob Mills) were both killed off and it looks like another resident will be meeting a sad end next year. Not only that, but some new location filming seems to be on the way too.
"We are always looking toward our next big thing. It’s no secret that COVID messed with a lot of our plans in 2020 and when it comes to massive stunts, we’ve learned to have a couple of options handy so we can pivot accordingly. That said, we are currently planning a big storyline that will take us to another Australian city we’ve never been to before, all going well. We try to keep the death rate down, we feel this is a point of difference to the other soaps, but there may be one demise on the horizon.
As for cast changes, don't expect the current lot to all stay as there will be just as many changes as previous years with Jason saying: "The cast is always in motion and there will be a few changes, no more or less than any other year."
A return for Aaron and David's buddy?
While they are in the midst of an awkward surrogacy situation at the moment, earlier in the year David and Aaron tried their hands at surrogacy with both Emmett Donaldson (Ezra Justin) and Brent Colefax (Texas Watterston) staying with them. It seems that their story may not be completely over...
"We feel there is a lot more mileage in the fostering angle and we hope to tell more stories with Emmett and Brent when the time is right. Their story isn’t over but any future twists will be complicated by the fact that David and Aaron are now starting a family with Nicolette."
Trouble with Hendrix and Jay on the way
We all spent so long waiting to meet Jay Rebecchi (Dhruv Malge) and had no idea he would end up being the next teen troublemaker but it seems that his problematic ways are only se to get worse – and Hendrix Greyson (Benny Turland) will continue to get dragged into them.
"We have a major story arc unfolding between Hendrix and Jay, which will ultimately lead to trouble for several unsuspecting residents of the street. Amy Greenwood’s return also sets the cat amongst the pigeons, no disrespect to Gary intended! We are also mindful that in such challenging times our audience needs to have a laugh too, so we’ve put a special focus on finding the humour in situations. There is some old-school Neighbours in the pipeline."
A new Ramsay Street love triangle
You never have to look far in Soap Land for the next big love triangle and this one involves some of the more mature members of the cast. Fireworks are on the way when a drunken night leads to something more between Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine) and Jane Harris – and Sheila Canning (Colette Mann) will not be pleased when she finds out...
We spoke to Geoff and Colette about what to expect when the story kicks off in the New Year
"She’s the hurricane of Ramsay Street and Clive and Jane are thinking how do we not set off this ticking time bomb," Geoff said of the tricky situation his character finds himself in.
"Sheila is very proactive in reaching back into the past to see if she can manipulate the future. I won't say too much, but she makes a phone call. Sheila would make the Godfather scared when she gets worked up about something. There is a lot of ducking and weaving, some bushes will be discovered that nobody knew were there. There is some great comedy in the story. It's so much fun to play that stuff."