Neighbours fans finally get to meet the estranged daughter of Jane Harris (Annie Jones) when Nicolette Stone (Charlotte Chimes) arrives in Erinsborough on Wednesday 5th August, shedding light on the returning soap legend’s many years away from Ramsay Street.
Concerned how Jane is coping with the breakdown of her marriage to Des Clarke, Karl Kennedy secretly contacts her offspring and urges her to check in on her mum, only to learn there is no love lost between the ladies owing to a long-standing family feud. Neighbours favourite Jones picks up the story in an exclusive chat with RadioTimes.com.
“Nicolette is very upfront and speaks her mind, she and Jane are quite opposite in many ways,” says Jones, making a permanent return as Jane to the cast for the first time in 30 years after a number of guest stints since 2018.
“She feels Jane focused too much of her energy looking after her grandmother, the dreaded Mrs Mangel, and not enough on her children when they were growing up. Jane admits she was never the most maternal of mothers and perhaps regrets that now, and admits she perhaps did focus on her nan, though at the time she needed that care.”
The biggest sticking point is Jane’s reaction to Nicolette coming out in her teens, which still taints how mother and daughter relate to one another.
“Jane was trying to protect Nicolette from Mrs Mangel’s reaction to her sexuality,” explains Jones. “That might’ve been quite painful for Nicolette. It wasn’t that Jane was being unaccepting but it came across that way. Jane herself is very open to anyone being whichever way they choose to be, but again the cycle of Nell Mangel and her dominance over Jane rears its head again!
“You’ve also got to remember Jane did not have a good relationship with her own mother, Amanda, who neglected her terribly and left her with Mrs Mangel in the first place, so that’s had an impact. It’s all very interconnected – Neighbours can be quite deep if you delve into the past!”
Nicolette still smarts from Jane putting notorious battle-axe Mrs M first and the pair remain distant, to the point where the narked nurse makes it clear to Karl she’s not interested in helping to mend her mum’s broken heart. Can the pair heal their rift as they reunite?
“Looking back, Jane knows there are times she should’ve said no to her nan and spent more time with her kids,” reflects Jones. “It’s all hindsight. She is hopeful to rebuild their relationship and that’s what she’ll be striving towards once she settles back in Erinsborough.
“But there is a lot of ground to make up, and some to-ing and fro-ing as to whether Nicolette will be prepared to give her another chance.”
Newcomer Chimes immediately makes a big impression as Nicolette, and even catches the eye of Chloe Greyson which could explain why she decides to stick around, and Harris promises fireworks in the mother/daughter dynamic.
“Jane wishes she could be a bit more like her, and they often clash heads. Little arguments turn into big fights very quickly. Nicolette calls a spade a spade and in some situations that’s a good thing, but in others it can be quite confronting.
“I’ve often thought of the comparison to Saffy and Edina in Absolutely Fabulous, but in reverse! Jane has her head in her hands while Nicolette shoots her mouth off much of the time. It’s going to be quite fun to watch.”
With many years of backstory to explore while Plain Jane Superbrain was off-screen raising her family in the UK as Mrs Mangel’s live-in carer, Jones is excited about tapping into the past – but openly admits she’s hazy on some of the details when asked about Nicolette’s siblings.
“I’ve been told Jane was married and has a grown-up family, but to be honest I don’t really know how many children she has!” she giggles. “However many the show needs, perhaps! I’m sure they’ll let me know as time goes on!”