With such an extensive list of returning familiar faces released way ahead of Neighbours' big finale, you may have thought you knew all there was to know about the beloved soap's farewell scenes. But the show pulled out all the stops to surprise us, with a selection of cameos that were not revealed ahead of transmission.
It was a chance for many stars to pay tribute to Ramsay Street, as the episode focused on the wedding of Toadie Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) and Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden) which made way for some very welcome messages. So, while you're catching your breath and wiping your eyes, here's a look at every unexpected character who popped up tonight.
1. Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston)
While an appearance from actress Charleston wasn't made official, it was heavily rumoured around the time Neighbours made its final announcements of the return of fellow stars, like Margot Robbie and Delta Goodrem.
Madge was seen in the closing moments in spirit, as mainstay Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) imagined what the late residents of Ramsay Street would look like if they had survived. It was great to see a glimpse of Madge sat by husband Harold's (Ian Smith) side, even if it was only for a moment.
2. Doug Willis (Terence Donovan)
One Donovan leaves, and then two turn up at once! Yes, Terence Donovan is the father of Jason who also made a comeback as Scott Robinson, and the grandfather of actress Jemma who departed Neighbours as alter ego Harlow not so long ago.
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Donovan Senior portrayed Doug Willis, who died on-screen in 2016 during The Lassiters's hotel explosion. Doug was seen alongside Madge, smiling away in an imagined look at how he might have appeared on Neighbours in the present day.
3. Lance Wilkinson (Andrew Bibby)
As Toadie and Mel sat down to watch a series of well wishes compiled by Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher), Lance's contribution included a cheeky nod at his past relationship with Amy Greenwood (Jacinta Stapleton).
Lance congratulated the happy couple and mentioned that there was still time to make it up the aisle with Amy – and later, she told her friends that she had found a donor to help her get pregnant. Toadie was convinced it was someone they all knew, so perhaps Lance and Amy were left with a shared secret!
4. Tad Reeves (Jonathon Dutton)
We got a glimpse of Toadie's cousin Tad as he playfully complained that he didn't get the chance to DJ at the wedding. Dutton was reprising his role for the first time since 2002. At the time, Harold had been led to believe that Tad had died, only for it to have been a case of mistaken identity. Happily, Tad is still alive and well, and he joined in with the task of convincing Toadie not to move away!
5. Stuart Parker (Blair McDonough)
A fan-favourite back in his hey-day, Stuart immediately made a nostalgic reference to the House of Trouser, the name that he, Toadie and fellow housemate Connor O'Neill (Patrick Harvey) gave number 30 back in the early 2000s.
Last seen in 2018 when he paid Toadie a visit, naturally Stuart was among those hoping his mate would stick around!
6. Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh)
As Toadie's old pal, as well as Harold's granddaughter and Mel's former step-daughter, Sky joined a host of faces who were intent on reminding the pair that Ramsay Street wouldn't be the same without them.
With Sky's dad Joe (Mark Little) making a second cameo too, it wouldn't have felt right without a few words from Sky – and it was great to see McIntosh in her memorable role one last time,
7. Sharon Davies (Jessica Muschamp)
"Hey Mel, it's me, Shazza!" said Sharon as she congratulated her old pal on her nuptials. Sharon was last seen in 1990 when she departed to move to New Zealand with her sister Bronwyn. Sharon's reappearance marks 34 years since her debut. It's a testament to Neighbours that so many former stars of the show have been happy to join the tributes.
8. Naomi Canning (Morgana O'Reilly
Naomi couldn't resist reminding Toadie that she had once had her eye on him herself! Last seen in 2020, she relocated to LA, where mum Sheila (Colette Mann) joined her after Naomi's partner died, leaving her to look after his children.
Of course, the Cannings were still very much a part of the finale, with Naomi's nephews Levi (Richie Morris) and Kyle (Chris Milligan) already present. But Naomi was another popular character, so her cameo was a delight.
9. Philip Martin (Ian Rawlings)
Rawlings's unannounced cameo followed a 17 year gap, as he last popped by back in 2005. However, original character Phil was also seen in a 2017 web series that explored time travel on Ramsay Street. Phil married into the Robinson family in the 1980s, but some time after wife Julie died in an accident he wed Lance's mum Ruth and moved to Darwin.
Back for the final time, Phil accosted Mel and Toadie while the party was in full swing, sharing hugs as he joined in the celebrations.
10. Sonya Rebecchi (Eve Morey)
Susan's speech as she remembered those characters sadly lost led to a treat for fans, as she imagined Sonya stood between son Callum (Morgan Baker) and young daughter Nell (Scarlett Anderson). Viewers were heartbroken by Sonya's untimely demise in 2019 from ovarian cancer. Star Morey has stayed with the show ever since, working as an intimacy coordinator and acting coach.
Her death scenes had been beautifully penned by producer Jason Herbison, who also scripted Neighbours' finale. So this was a touching tribute to such an adored character.
11. Hendrix Greyson (Ben Turland)
Another Neighbours tragedy we're still not over! And as Susan mourned the fact that so many had missed the chance to reach their full potential, Hendrix was briefly revived to share a dance with wife Mackenzie Hargreaves (Georgie Stone).
As he twirled her around, all seemed right with the world, before we were suddenly transported back to the show's reality as Mackenzie was immersed in the festivities with Curtis Perkins (Nathan Borg).
12. Finn Kelly (Rob Mills)
Finn was certainly one character we weren't expecting to see again! But as Susan pondered life on Ramsay Street, she remembered the troubled villain as a lost soul. Mills's portrayal as the complex Finn ran through until 2020, before he was killed off for good.
As traumatic as Finn's reign of terror was, it's important to remember the good and the bad, Susan remarked. And that's exactly the attitude needed to celebrate Neighbours' 37 year run.
Neighbours' final episode aired on Friday 29th July at 9pm, followed by Neighbours: What Happened Next? at 10:05pm and Neighbours: The Stars' Greatest Hits at 11:30pm, on Channel 5. Check out more of our Soaps coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.
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