Neighbours spoilers follow.
Neighbours surprised fans this year with the big news that Hollywood star Guy Pearce had signed up to film new episodes for the revival season, reprising his role as Mike Young once again.
Mike returned to Ramsay Street and reunited with Jane Harris in the show's heartwarming finale episode last year, but the couple's well-received reconciliation ultimately left the writing team with a dilemma when Neighbours was resurrected by Amazon Freevee.
As seen in a recently-released trailer, fans can now expect to see Jane and Mike sharing the screen again in the new season, but the exact outcome for their relationship remains a closely guarded secret.
Annie Jones, who plays Jane, recently caught up with Digital Spy and other press to share some teasers of what's in store.
How did it feel to get back on set and start filming again?
"Just fantastic. It was such a dream come true for all of us. It's like we never left. But then again, there's been quite a refresh. We have a lot of new crew, because a lot of the older crew have either retired or they've just moved on to other shows. We've got a lot of the same characters and actors back, as well as a whole bunch of new ones."
When you were approached to return, did you have to give it much thought?
"No, not really. I was thrilled to hear that the show was coming back – for myself and for my fellow actors and crew, but also for the fans. I know how much it means to a lot of our fans, especially in the UK. That became blatantly obvious when we were over there doing the Celebration Tour – just how loved the show is. I'm super excited to be back."
How was it to get that direct interaction with the fans on the Tour?
"Well, they had us crying a lot of the time because we did four hours of meet and greet before each show. We heard first-hand just how much the show had meant to people and how devastated they were when it had finished. We also heard how generational it is. It tended to be grandma, that was the first viewer, and then at least three generations and counting."
When the show returns, how are things going for Jane?
"It's Jane and her ongoing relationship with Mike and Sam. They're all living in Number 24 together, so it's happy, happy Jane. She's got her man and a new step child, so it's all happy families.
"The house is looking a little bit different – I think the cupboards have had a bit of a change and the furniture is different. It's a more 'country cottage' look that she's gone for. And of course, Mrs. Mangel's painting follows Jane everywhere she goes."
When you heard that Neighbours was returning, did you have a chat with Guy Pearce about how it was all going to work in terms of Jane and Mike's relationship?
"We did have a bit of a chat. We just threw up a couple of ideas and possibilities of what could have happened. Then we shared those with the writers and the producers and came up with a solution."
Guy didn't want to just walk away after his finale return, did he?
"Absolutely. He's such a beautiful person. He wants to do right by Mike – and by all of the fans that seemed to have loved the Mike and Jane story in the last episode so much.
"I actually had already shot stuff with Guy before we did the Celebration Tour. It was in the UK in a secret location. We filmed for quite a few days."
Will those be the first few episodes back?
"You'll get to see!"
Can you tease how it's going to play out?
"Well, Jane and Mike are together. Mike has fitted into the neighbourhood. He's great friends with Karl – he and Karl jam together a lot. They've got a bit of a Ramsay Street Band kind of thing going on. So he really loves living there.
"I think the fans are going to be really happy. I think what happens is very satisfying. I think you guys are going to be delighted – I hope so anyway!"
How do you feel about Xavier Molyneux taking on the role of Jane's son Byron?
"He's great. Apart from being incredibly handsome, he's really switched on and he wants to be good. So that's what you want – someone who is keen to learn.
"Things were tense between Jane and Byron last time we saw them together because of his escorting, but their relationship is really good and he's living in a share house across the road. So Jane's loving that."
How is Jane and Paul's friendship after the rocky time they've had?
"Jane and Paul's relationship when we come back again is good. Mike's around too so that's a nice buffer and they all get along. Of course, there's always going to be drama!"
What were you up to after the show finished and you didn't know about the revival?
"Well, my husband and I bought an old house in the country. Our plan was to renovate it, grow vegetables and semi-retire a bit. But now I'm back at work, which is really good."
How do you feel about the show airing on a streaming service and being available to watch in more countries?
"It's so exciting! We're going to be on in America, Canada and New Zealand. It's incredible. Hopefully, they enjoy the show as well. That'd be amazing.
"But it's still the same show. We didn't change it to appeal to the UK audience – they loved us for who we are – so we're hoping that the Americans feel the same way. It's a little slice of Australia. Maybe it's novel to them, I don't know."
Is there anyone else you'd like to bring back?
"Any of the older characters that were in the show decades ago would be fun. The best thing now is being on Amazon Freevee and having all of those old episodes that are available to watch. We can bring old characters back, because people know who they are – it's not just a memory thing, you could watch old episodes and then see them in the new ones too. That's an exciting thing that we can do."
Is there's anything else you can tease about what's coming up for Jane?
"Well, Jane is very involved with the school these days. That's her great passion at the moment, apart from her darling Mike. She's really focused on making the school as fantastic as it can be. So there's a few ups and downs with the school, let's say.
"We have New Year's this year – we celebrate New Year's on screen, so that's exciting. There's lots of good things coming up!"
Neighbours returns on September 18, with new episodes streaming on Mondays to Thursdays for free on Amazon Freevee in the UK and US. Network 10 will retain first-run rights in Australia for the new series.
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