Neighbours spoilers follow.
Neighbours boss Jason Herbison has hinted that we could be in for another shock death on Ramsay Street in 2021.
2020, a year which marked the Australian soap's 35th anniversary, saw the demises of both Gary Canning and Finn Kelly and it sounds like fans won't be spared the loss of another character this year, although who that could be remains to be seen.
"We are always looking toward our next big thing," Herbison told Radio Times. "It's no secret that COVID messed with a lot of our plans in 2020 and when it comes to massive stunts, we've learned to have a couple of options handy so we can pivot accordingly.
"That said, we are currently planning a big storyline that will take us to another Australian city we've never been to before, all going well. We try to keep the death rate down, we feel this is a point of difference to the other soaps, but there may be one demise on the horizon."
Herbison also confirmed that we can expect "a few changes" to the cast this year, although there will be "no more or less" change than in any other year.
There are also big plots on the horizon for a number of popular Ramsay Street characters, including long-standing residents Karl (Alan Fletcher) and Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne).
"Karl and Susan's marriage will remain strong, but there will be fresh challenges as the year unfolds," Herbison said. "Now that Hendrix (Greyson, played by Benny Turland) is under their roof, it's a safe bet that any trouble he gets into will have consequences for them. We're also in the midst of filming a major storyline for them that will air in the early spring, involving the return of a character from the recent past."
One character who we know is heading back to Erinsborough is '90s resident Amy Greenwood (Jacinta Stapleton), who Herbison promises will be "a force of nature" who will touch the lives of a number of residents, including Toadie Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney). A character from the late '80s "who left a very distinctive mark on Ramsay Street" will also be returning.
Nicolette Stone (Charlotte Chimes) will continue to cause trouble, with her relationship with her mother Jane Harris (Annie Jones) continuing to go through "ups and downs". Nicolette will also be squaring up to Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), with Herbison stating that "unfortunately for Paul, Nicolette is not afraid to stand up to him and the battle lines will be drawn".
Paul's issues with Nicolette will be compounded by her decision to become a surrogate mother for Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) and David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) and Herbison teased that Aaron and David's time spent fostering teenage boys Emmett Donaldson (Ezra Justin) and Brent Colefax (Texas Watterston) in 2020 could return to the forefront of the soap too.
"We feel there is a lot more mileage in the fostering angle and we hope to tell more stories with Emmett and Brent when the time is right," he said. "Their story isn't over but any future twists will be complicated by the fact that David and Aaron are now starting a family with Nicolette."
As for the Rebecchis, it won't be an easy fix for Shane (Nicholas Coghlan) and Dipi (Sharon Johal)'s marriage following Shane's drug use and Dipi's affair as Herbison said that they will spend 2021 "finding the way forward", whether that's as "a couple or separate entities".
The couple's daughter Kirsha will also be back and actress Vani Dhir has revealed that Kirsha will struggle to cope with her parents' marriage breakdown.
"I don't think Kirsha is on any sides, she blames both of them because she acknowledges that they both made mistakes, however, she has faith that both her mum and dad can see past each other's mistakes and try to work it out," she said.
Also coming up in 2021, Roxy Willis (Zima Anderson) will make "a very fateful mistake which will have far-reaching implications for Kyle Canning (Chris Milligan) and several of her neighbours", with Herbison hinting that we could see more of her family arrive in future by saying: "We are overdue the return of some Ramsays, don't you think?"
There is also a "major story arc" coming up for teenage troublemaker Jay Rebecchi (Dhruv Malge) and Hendrix, with Herbison revealing that their friendship "will ultimately lead to trouble for several unsuspecting residents of the street".
There is also a storyline on the way for some of Ramsay Street's older residents, with a love triangle developing between Jane, Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine) and Sheila Canning (Colette Mann), and this story will give us a good dose of comedy.
Neighbours airs on Channel 5 in the UK and on 10 Peach in Australia.
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