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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Anna Spargo-Ryan

Neighbours catch-up: everything you need to know before the show finishes forever

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan
Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan are among the big names returning for the finale of Neighbours, Australia’s longest-running soap. Photograph: Network Ten

When was the last time you watched Neighbours?

Whether your knowledge is limited to the Des and Daphne era or you’ve been a loyal fan since the start, you are probably aware that the whole thing is coming to an end.

So what’s been happening on Ramsay Street after all these years? Here’s everything you need to know before we *sob* *choke* head into the very last – 65 minute – episode of Australia’s longest-running TV drama.

Who’s coming back?

I’m not going to give you a rundown of who’s who. There are other websites for that.

But if you’re returning to the show after a few years away, you’ll probably recognise Paul, Toadie, Karl and Susan and Harold. The rest can be split into blond ones and not-blond ones, and some but not all are wearing shirts.

The list of returning actors is a who’s who of Neighbours. We’ll get cameos from bona fide Ramsay Street legends including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce, Jesse Spencer, Delta Goodrem, Holly Valance and Natalies Imbruglia and Bassingthwaighte. Nostalgia is thick on the ground, with many other characters back from the distant past – Joe Mangel, Des Clarke, Clive Gibbons, Shane Ramsay and Plain Jane Superbrain, who you may remember was ugly until she took off her glasses – as well as more recent departees, including Harold Bishop. If you’re my vintage, you’ll be making love-heart eyes at Elle Robinson, Steph Scully, Amy Greenwood and Joel Samuels. And, in the true spirit of the show, there are some visitors from beyond the grave.

All the old gang are here! Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), Jane Harris (Annie Jones), Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine), Mike Young (Guy Pearce), Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden), Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) and Des Clarke (Paul Keane) on the Neighbours set
All the old gang are here! Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), Jane Harris (Annie Jones), Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine), Mike Young (Guy Pearce), Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden), Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) and Des Clarke (Paul Keane). Photograph: Network Ten

There’s even confirmation Margot Robbie will return – though given she’s busy in her Barbie Dream House one suspects it might be via video call.

My speculation: everything explodes; parts of things explode; Toadie explodes. Or the most likely option: Bouncer returns and it’s all been his dream. The good/bad news is we won’t have to wait long to find out and, as we edge towards the end, cliffhangers abound.

Where are the storylines up to?

Current characters Paul (Stefan Dennis) and Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou, who you actually know from Home & Away) are in a tug-o-war between their hearts and the dark art of economics. Terese, who had previously kicked Paul out because he *checks notes* bought a baby is facing the reality of life without him, and she does not like it. Can they make it work? Personally, I’m hoping this dastardly fraudster and sometimes-murderer learns to enjoy his own company and stops ruining the lives of perfectly nice women, which would be a twist for the ages.

They’re not the only older folk trying to navigate love, though. Jane (Annie Jones), who has been doing a fantastic impression of her interfering nan, Nell Mangel, has broken things off with Clive (Geoff Paine) and he is not taking it well. But just as Jane starts to come around, a familiar face appears – it’s criminally still-hot Mike Young (Guy Pearce), on an actual motorbike. Violins play. Everyone is in soft focus. Decades of yearning for the one that got away.

Mike Young (Guy Pearce) and Jane (Annie Jones) in a scene from Neighbours
Will Mike Young and Jane Harris rekindle their old love story? Photograph: Network Ten

After all this time, will young love be the winner on the day? Or will Jane choose Clive, who was a fully grown man when they first appeared together in the 80s?

Ooh, and Izzy (Nat Bass) is back! Remember when she gave birth to Karl’s baby during Karl and Susan’s wedding? What a scream. She recently claimed to be in love with their son, Mal (Benjie McNair), who is her daughter’s half-brother. But all was not as it seemed, and she was easily wooed by a mid-range Mercedes-Benz containing Shane Ramsay (Peter O’Brien). Having broken Mal’s heart, Izzy realised what she has truly wanted this whole time – Susan’s approval (same, Izzy). Will she finally get it?

In the meantime, young people are doing things. Kyle and Roxy, who only recently left the street, have returned to cause trouble and perhaps give birth early for the drama (this author speculates wildly). Elsewhere, the women are all pretty lovelorn: Mackenzie is a grieving widow, Kiri is a tossed-aside girlfriend and Chloe is pining for a friend who was more than that. But it’s not all doom and gloom – David, Aaron and Nicolette are heading to New York with David’s twin, Leo and Paul … unless things change with Terese, and we get the strong sense that’s very much the plan.

And, as ever, there’s a Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) wedding on the horizon. The last time Toadie got married, his wedding blew up some of his friends before his wife died of ovarian cancer after he had cheated on her with Fake Dee (an impostor of a previous wife Toadie had driven into the sea). This time, he’s betrothed to Melanie (Lucinda Cowden), a character who first appeared on the show in 1987 when Toadie was merely a rat tail-sporting youngster, so good on her.

Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) and Melanie (Lucinda Cowden)
Can Toadie and this woman he met recently make it down the aisle? Photograph: Network Ten

Of course there is drama leading up to this latest wedding, with Amy (Jacinta Stapleton) having declared her love for Toad before fleeing to Far North Queensland. Will it go ahead? Of course it absolutely will, and if there’s no bizarre death scene afterwards we will descend on the empty studio at first light.

What can we expect?

The penultimate episode set the tone for a big night of tears in the finale. As the credits rolled, we were left with a sense of what Neighbours has always really been about: broken hearts, second chances and being there for one another.

Many question marks remain. Will Scott and Charlene come home? Will Toadie marry yet another definitely-doomed wife? Will anyone embrace tradition and get in a taxi to move to Queensland? How is Guy Pearce still that fine? Will Afro Harold make a surprise appearance? WHO WILL EXPLODE? And, most importantly, did these beloved characters, some of whom you’ve just met, ever find the perfect blend?

Scott and Charlene in a promo image for Neighbours’ final week
Will this window make Scott and Charlene truly happy? Photograph: Network Ten

A promo of the finale depicts the good doctor and Susan Kennedy bewildered by the sudden listing of every house on the street. Inevitably, lives are changing – Aaron and David off to New York, Toadie moving on from the past, a new career opportunity for Terese, a fresh start for Chloe, and a change of heart for the newly arrived Rodwells. Will they really all sell up? Can the Kennedys keep living on the iconic street even after their friends are gone?

As we close the TV guide on our beloved show for good, I’ll be watching – ready to suspend disbelief and probably cry.

  • Neighbours’ final episode airs on Friday 29 July at 9pm on Channel 5

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