A long-running soap always has characters from the past that fans want to make a comeback, and the list of possible Neighbours returning favoruites is large and varied. But one name has been cropping up since they made a hasty exit from the soap back in 1992: Glen Donnelly (Richard Huggett).
Long-term fans will remember that Glen left Erinsborough after a fall from the roof of Lassiters and some particularly dodgy moves from half-brother Paul Robinson that slammed the door shut on the pair ever having a healthy relationship. He was declared a paraplegic and made a quiet exit without telling his family he was leaving. He was never seen or heard from again – until now.
Glen's return is set to air in November here in the UK alongside his half-sister and one-time –controversial – love interest Lucy Robinson (Melissa Bell). Richard has been chatting to exclusively to RadioTimes.com about his comeback and what it was like to embody the character of Glen again after 30-years off of our screens.
Obvious question first, what is it like to be back and did you ever expect to be making a return considering how long it has been?
It's actually 30 years this year I think since I stopped filming. I did it for a year and it's just like being back home, actually! For one it really doesn't seem like 30 years, maybe it feels like 10 at most, but we've definitely all aged about 30 years.
The studios have changed a bit and I get lost going from place to place in there but it really is like being back home. Stefan Dennis who plays Paul is there and Lucinda Cowden who plays Melanie is back now too and catching up with her feels like I just saw her yesterday. Same too with Melissa Bell, she's a real sweetheart and she's hilarious. It's just been really good.
It must feel like a very different show now, in a sense, but is there still a feel of what it was like in 1991?
It does feel like a different show in a way. It's shot differently for one, they use twin cameras now and it used to be shot with three. Before we'd do one take and that was it, we'd move on, but now it's a bit more technical and they're coming in for close-ups which is really good but you do work at a very fast pace to get it all done. It was a bit daunting to come back to!
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But you're settling back in well?
Oh absolutely. It only takes a couple of weeks and it's not like I ever really gave up acting and I've done bits and pieces over the years. You just pick up where you left off really.
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We know you can't say too much yet, but can you give any hints as to what it is that brings Glen back to Erinsborough?
Ultimately, I come back to reconnect with Lucy. As you know when I left, Paul and I were not on the best of terms so I come back to see Lucy and it goes on from there with all sorts of twists and turns and cliffhangers – but no hanging off of hotel roofs this time.
The last time Glen and Paul met they were, as always, not exactly friendly. What is it like when they see each other again and do you think there is any chance they could form a brotherly bond?
I think it's a bit more complicated than dislike because there is so much history there with the way Glen was treated, which was pretty bad, especially by Paul, and this is where the twists, turns and agendas come into play. It will be interesting.
We know that Lucy is back too, which is surprising given their history was so controversial. What’s it like to be reunited with Melissa Bell and did you realise how huge that story was going to be back in 91?
I did know [that it was cut out of UK airings], yeah, but it was half-brother half-sister and we kissed and wanted to go further but never did and that's where the controversy came from. But there's nothing like that this time. Their bond is very much a brotherly sisterly one when we see them.
Glen had a fractured relationship with the whole family during his stay, but he always seemed to have a special bond with Helen. What was Anne Haddy like to work with, can we expect a mention of her?
She does get a mention but I think we don't really dwell on the characters from that far back. Jim and Helen do certainly get a mention though. Working with Anne Haddy was so great. She had been acting for years when I worked with her and she was really amazing to learn from at that time.
Obviously, Glen left in a wheelchair but we now know he is walking again. Was there a worry of having that seemingly damning diagnosis undone?
When I was first approached that was my question, whether Glen was still a paraplegic and if he's not, how did he get out of that? But the way it's been dealt with I think is perfect. The writers have done a really good job at justifying why I'm not in a wheelchair anymore I think.
What kind of person is Glen now, and how much has he changed over the years?
Back then he was a troubled young man but he's grown up and he's a lot calmer now. He doesn't bite quite as easily anymore. Of course, there will be some sort of confrontation with Paul but as for how far that goes, well, who knows? We'll see.
Do we get to hear why he ultimately chose to leave everyone on Ramsay Street behind, never to return?
Yes, we do. But I can't really go into anything more on that right now. But yeah, it is explained why he did what he did back in 1991.
Another plot thread that has been left hanging from your last stint is his romance with Gaby Willis. Do you know if there have been any talks to bring her back to try and resolve that story too?
I'm not sure if that will happen or if it's even been thought of. I am sure they would love to get Gaby back as another interest from that era but I guess it will depend on the actor's availability and many other things. We'll have to wait and see!