Jason Donovan found fame in Neighbours as Scott Robinson, and 30 years after he left, his real-life teenage daughter Jemma is joining the Australian soap as a long-lost member of her father's on-screen family!
Jemma Donovan makes her debut on Monday 15th July as Harlow Robinson, 19-year-old daughter of Paul Robinson's (Stefan Dennis) jailed killer son Robert Robinson (Adam Hunter). The patriarch of Erinsborough's famous family has no idea she even exists until they meet in a prison visiting room - so what's the story?
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Who is Harlow Robinson?
Harlow is the offspring of Robert, Paul's deranged serial killer son who was jailed in 2007 for multiple murder. Doctor David Tanaka visits his half-sibling in the hope of making him the subject of his medical exploration of the criminal mind but Paul wants to shut it down and races to the maximum security prison where his son is incarcerated.
"Paul is confronted with one of his greatest demons when he sees Robert again," reveals Neighbours stalwart Dennis. "He bursts in to tell David not to get involved and Robert is on the other side of the glass - they don't say anything and Robert storms off, refusing to speak to anyone.
"In comes this girl blaming them for being the reason she now can't see her father - Paul had no idea Robert even had a kid! It emerges Robert met a British backpacker called Prudence almost 20 years ago when she was travelling in Tasmania. They had a fling and Harlow was the result. She has had nothing to do with her father but stated writing to him and came to Australia so they could meet.
"Paul then brings Harlow under the wing of the family and she moves in with him and Terese back in Ramsay Street. We get to know her, she's a very sound, sensible and clever girl."
What storylines are lined up for Harlow Robinson?
Rebekah Elmaloglou, aka Paul's partner Terese Willis, tells RadioTimes.com Harlow will butt heads with fellow housemate Roxy Willis, Terese's wild child niece. "Harlow is the complete opposite to Roxy, they completely clash and the dynamic is fantastic! It takes a while for Terese to convince Paul to embrace Harlow because of the links to Robert, then they end up sharing the house with two squabbling teenagers!"
"There is a sensational food fight at some point between the girls," laughs Dennis. "We have some very comical moments coming up. Considering her dad is a baddie there's no dark side pointed to yet with Harlow, but it's a soap so anything could happen! Paul will side with Harlow more than Roxy at first because she is blood."
Viewers will eventually meet Harlow's mum who will be played by Denise Van Outen, who Dennis and Elmaloglou recently filmed with on location in London.
How does Jason Donovan feel about his daughter joining Neighbours?
"Jemma is divine and it's great she's practically Ramsay Street royalty being Jason's daughter," smiles Elmaloglou. "Jason is coming to do a musical in Australia soon so we're hoping he comes to visit her on set."
"I saw Jason at Christmas," confides Dennis, referring to the Neighbours reunion with Donovan, Guy Pearce (Mike Young) and Annie Jones (Jane Harris) that sparked a wave of nostalgia when the gang posted a picture on social media. "He told me Jemma was joining the show and he told me to look after! I promised him I would so am making sure she's alright. We try and welcome the newcomers so they feel part of the family as quickly as we can."
Jason Donovan was the second actor to play Paul's brother Scott, replacing Darius Perkins in 1986 a year after Neighbours started. Scott's romance with tomboy mechanic Charlene Mitchell launched him and co-star Kylie Minogue into superstardom, their 1987 wedding still regarded as the biggest moment in the show's history.
Scott left in 1989, settling off-screen in Brisbane with Charlene where they had two children, Daniel and Madison. Jemma becomes the third generation Donovan to appear in Neighbours with her grandfather - Jason's dad - Terence playing Doug Willis (Terese's ex-father-in-law) from 1990, and on a recurring basis until the character was killed off in 2016. Terence also played Elmaloglou's on-screen father Al Simpson when she was Sophie Simpson in Home and Away as a teenager. And not forgetting Jemma's aunt Stephanie McIntosh, Jason's half-sister from his mother's second marriage after Terence, played Neighbours' Sky Mangel from 2003-2007.
It really is a small world when it comes to Australian soaps…
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