Watch: Alan Fletcher and Georgie Stone talk to Yahoo about the return of Neighbours
Soap stars Alan Fletcher and Georgie Stone say they were in shock when news broke that beloved Australian soap Neighbours was being revived.
The show debuted a brand new era this week on Amazon Freevee. Fletcher — who has played Doctor Karl Kennedy for almost 30 years — says his reaction to Neighbours’ second chance was unexpected.
“Well, it was the biggest shock I’ve ever had in my life,” he tells Yahoo.
There was not a planet I could have conceived that a show like Neighbours, as big as Neighbours, as gargantuan as Neighbours could be saved.Alan Fletcher
"This is a show with a cast in excess of 25 people; this is a show that employs 200 people. It’s shot in two studios.
"It’s a feature film a week — it’s massive!
“When it ended, I thought, there’s no way you can possibly bring this show back. But Amazon, they saw how many people watched that last episode, they saw the petitions. They saw all that and they said ‘No, this show clearly has a massive audience, and it needs to be saved.’”
Neighbours' resurrection means a lot to Stone, too. “I was equally shocked. But I was so happy, because I remember thinking when it ended, how sad it was that there wouldn’t be an opportunity for younger actors and younger generations to have that experience on the show.”
The star, who reprises her role as Mackenzie, adds: “It was so impactful and important for me as a young actor to have my start on Neighbours. So one of my first thoughts when it was announced to be coming back was ‘Yes! Now there’s a new generation who will get that learning experience, and that wonderful foundation.’
Regardless of whether I was going to come back or not, I was really glad that that was there. And not just for actors, but for crew members as well. And then I was really happy when they asked me back because also, I love it.Georgie Stone
Neighbours has already delivered an almighty twist: the wedding of unlikely couple Toadie (Ryan Moloney) and Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou).
“[It was] the biggest shock I could have had apart from saying the show was coming back,” Fletcher admits.
"I was in the UK in a hotel room after doing The Doctor Will See You Now. It was 1am, they were in a boardroom in Melbourne.
"Jason announced the twist and I squealed; and then had to apologise for breaking everybody’s eardrums, because it was just extraordinary.”
The actor promises that any questions fans have will be answered eventually. “The genius is that even though the twist seems mind-blowing, what they’ve done is that they’ve managed to, with the two-year break, they’ve created this beautiful story arc right through the beginning of the new Neighbours."
Everything becomes clear; everything makes sense, and that’s a beautiful journey to be on. It’s almost like a thriller mystery, combined with all the usual elements you get from the Neighbours you know and love.Alan Fletcher
From one intriguing storyline to another; we've noticed that Karl's wife Susan (Jackie Woodburne) is keeping something from him.
“The dynamic between Karl and Susan at the beginning of the show is one based around the fact that they’ve had some life changes go on in their lives,” says Fletcher. “There’s the potential for people to be a little bit concerned about where their life’s going.”
While we could be looking at a long road ahead for the Kennedys, the actor believes in them more than ever. “The thing about Karl and Susan is, they’ve always found their way back to each other. But it can be tortuous because there’s so much in life that people let get in the way before they can sort things out.
“In some cases, Karl and Susan have gone years before they’ve found their way back to each other. So that’s the gorgeous thing about [it]. I’m certainly not giving away a spoiler here, but whatever happens for Karl and Susan, I suspect they will always find their way back to each other.
"But how they do and when they do is completely always going to be up in the air.”
Marital strife isn’t Karl’s only dilemma. His daughter Holly (Lucinda Armstrong Hall), conceived via a fling with scheming ex Izzy Hoyland (Natalie Bassingthwaighte), is back on Ramsay Street.
So, what can we expect from Holly? “She’s definitely Izzy’s daughter, but she doesn’t want to be Izzy, because she’s seen how many mistakes her mother makes," he reveals.
"So basically that means that Lucinda’s character Holly is a very complex young woman; very wilful, very determined and Karl has to find a way to help her, because he loves her. But he also has to find a way to guide her, and that presents wonderful challenges. It’s a beautifully crafted character.”
Meanwhile, romance could be brewing for Mackenzie, two years on from losing husband Hendrix (Ben Turland). “She is in a much better place than when we last saw her,” promises Stone.
“She has been through the grieving process of losing Hendrix, and she’s now starting to be ready to get out there again and start seeing other people. That was a really cool place to meet her again. She’s living with Haz, and there’s a really good friendship and really great banter between them, and there’s a little bit of chemistry there,” she teases.
“So that was really cool to be able to build a relationship from the ground up there. No spoilers on what happens, but it was really cool and I love working with Shiv [Palekar] who plays Haz, he’s incredible. So that was a real joy.
“I think the fans will really love to see Mackenzie not crying every second scene. I’m definitely happy not to be crying every second scene, that’s for sure!”
Neighbours airs every Monday to Thursday at 7am on Amazon Freevee.
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