After 30 years, aside from a brief one scene return in 2005, Lucinda Cowden is returning to Neighbours as the iconic Melanie Pearson and she looks to be just as fun to watch as she ever has been.
Bringing her infamous laugh back with her, Melanie will first appear in scenes alongside Des Clarke and Jane Harris (Paul Keane and Annie Jones), but expect to see a lot more from her as she’ll be appearing throughout 2021.
Lucinda has been talking to RadioTimes.com about her return and what we can expect from Melanie when she slots back into her former home.
“It was a total no brainer because, at the time, all of my other work has just disappeared because of COVID,” Lucinda said of the stars aligning for her to make a comeback.”Because Neighbours and Fremantle were super [clued up] in getting a COVID safety plan in place, it just came along at the perfect time.”
And returning to the iconic role was more fun that Lucinda had ever imagined it could have been. “I didn’t realise it was going to be so much fun, but it was really well written and the writers really captured her. As soon as I read it, I could hear her which is a joyous thing as an actor as I didn’t know if I would remember how she talks. They’ve done a brilliant job and it made sense and was obvious how to play her. She is such a lovely perfect person to be, of all the characters I have played over the years she is the most free-spirited and joyous. It’s so nice”.
For fans of the character, Lucinda thinks that we will be able to instantly recognise her as the Melanie we all knew and loved- even if she has dialled up her personality a tad in the intervening years, but according to the actress, she “hasn’t changed at all”.
Someone she will be sharing a lot of scenes with is Ryan Moloney who joined the show as Toadfish Rebecchi four years after Lucinda left. “They do go on a Tinder date early on where Melanie has lied about her age and put an old picture up,” she teased of the pairing. “They get along really well, but they decide that it isn’t really romantic and they are more friends, They both have a good sense of humour, they don’t take themselves too seriously and they have a lot of fun.”
Aside from a date, Melanie’s scenes with Toadie will be very reminiscent of how we saw her when she was on the show previously. “She ends up doing some work for Toadie as his PA and we all know what an exceptional personal assistant Melanie was to Paul Robinson and she is now that to Toadfish. It’s fun, she sticks her nose into all sorts of things that’s she shouldn’t be sticking her nose into in true Melanie style. It’s a lot of fun and she’s only trying to help in typical Melanie fashion.”
One resident of Erinsborough who is not thrilled to see Melanie is Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), despite Melanie being delighted to see him when the two eventually come face-to-face. “She just treats him like a little brother and does what she can to embarrass him. She s really pleased to see him, but she is that sort of person that is overly familiar with everyone and I think it makes Paul cringe.”
“And they do have a history, they did have a one night stand back in the day and she ruined his wedding. He just thinks, ‘oh no, not that woman again’. There’s only been a couple of scenes I’ve had with Stefan, so far, but I really enjoyed them.
“I am coming back again that I know of, I think I’m in and out a little bit – at the moment. It’s lovely and I’m enormously flattered that people have me in their hearts – it’s a really positive affirmation for me after a long time.”
As for whether she would make a full-time return, Lucinda is hopeful and keen. “We’ll see, I have my fingers and toes crossed that’s all I can tell you. It has been a joyous return from this end too. ”
Lucinda too has many fun memories from her original stint on Neighbours, saying: “Scenes with people like Ian Smith, I do remember him teaching Melanie to sing and it was Gilbert and Sullivan and she just howled like a dog in huge amounts of pain. And I took up tap dancing. I loved all of the ruining Paul’s wedding stuff where I ended up on the boat, that was good. There were some pretty fun Joe and Mel scenes as well and I do remember.”
“A friend of mine, he’s still one of my best friends in the world is Anthony Fletcher and he played a guy called Reverend Richards. We met on Neighbours and we had some really funny scenes. There was a karaoke one and there was also one we went to the drive-in for which was hilarious and all about is the Reverend going to try and kiss Melanie. I also have such great memories of so many fantastic older actors that were so generous with the younger actors. And crew like Jan Russ, what a legend, she was Neighbours.”
As for whether Lucinda was keeping a close eye on the guessing game that went on when the promo launched with a mysterious woman with her back to the camera, the fun and games passed her by. “No, I wasn’t paying by attention because I didn’t even know that was happening. I’m hopeless with social media, I’m too old for it all.”