11 times Neighbours axed the wrong characters

Daniel Kilkelly
·5-min read
Photo credit: Channel 5/DigitalSpy/AH - Getty Images
Photo credit: Channel 5/DigitalSpy/AH - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

Neighbours has been through its share of cast shake-ups, with some stars leaving of their own accord and others being shown the door as part of changes behind the scenes.

While a cast turnover is what keeps life on Ramsay Street fresh, we've been having a think about the times that producers caused a right old stir by axing the wrong characters. Well, in the eyes of the fans, anyway. Surely this lot were too good to let go?

1. Sonya Rebecchi (Eve Morey, 2019)

Sonya's exit looks set to go down in Neighbours history as one of the most controversial axings. When word leaked out that Eve Morey had finished filming, most viewers assumed that she'd quit the show. After all, the producers wouldn't drop one of their most committed and talented performers… right?

One week before Sonya's exit aired, Eve confirmed otherwise by telling Digital Spy that her contract wasn't renewed due to budget cuts behind the scenes. The news sparked a huge backlash from viewers online, who struggled to understand why such a popular character had to go.

In full agreement, Digital Spy sent Eve a Badge of Honour to show our appreciation for her amazing performances over the years.

2. Daniel Robinson (Tim Phillipps, 2016)

In another example of nice characters finishing last, Daniel Robinson was written out by producers in 2016. The news came as somewhat of a surprise, especially since Scott and Charlene's son had been brought in with such a big fanfare two years earlier.

Some of Daniel's storylines were duds – in particular his dull romance with Amber – but we reckon he had so much more to offer, especially in terms of his relationship with uncle Paul and hints at a darker past.

Speaking at the time, Tim Phillipps explained: "The decision wasn't mine – the producers wanted Daniel and Imogen to leave together. With Imogen going, the only real option was for Daniel to go too."

3. Steph Scully (Carla Bonner, 2018)

The reasons for Steph's departure were never disclosed publicly, but rumour has it that she was also written out. To their credit, producers gave Steph a fitting exit storyline as she reunited with her sons and left Erinsborough on a high, having spent three years successfully rebuilding her life.

Even so, a popular and long-running character like Steph had much more storyline potential, and we still miss her memorable friendships with characters like Toadie and Paul.

Familiarity is also important when hooking in casual soap viewers – after all, Steph is from a Neighbours golden era that everyone remembers fondly. The good news is that Steph could still return one day, but if she does, we hope she has a good excuse for missing Sonya's memorial.

4 and 5. Bree and Janelle Timmins (Sianoa Smit-McPhee and Nell Feeney, 2007)

The Timminses were hugely popular with UK fans when they joined Erinsborough in 2004. Fun, close-knit and chaotic, the new clan shook up life on Ramsay Street but quickly won over viewers with their heartwarming family interactions.

Ben Nicholas (Stingray) and Damien Bodie (Dylan) quit the show in 2007, and even though producers could have easily brought in absent siblings Dwayne and Brandon to replace them, producers decided it was easier to get rid of mum Janelle and little sister Bree.

Rumours at the time suggested that Neighbours' Aussie network Channel 10 weren't big fans of the Timmins family, which explained the decision. Veteran star Ian Smith, who played Harold Bishop, later moaned: "I think it was a huge mistake to get rid of them – I was in love with every single one."

6, 7 and 8. Liljana, David and Serena Bishop

When Neighbours announced plans for a plane crash storyline to mark its 20th anniversary year in 2005, it didn't take a genius to figure out that the Grim Reaper would be sharpening his scythe.

However, while fans would have probably liked to see pointless Ned Parker on the plane of doom, the producers' axing choices were rather more surprising.

Although most characters survived the crash, it wiped out an entire family as Liljana, David and Serena Bishop all perished. It was confirmed at the time that none of the actors in question had wanted to leave.

The Bishop trio had helped to give Harold's character an exciting new direction in the previous two years, but while fans couldn't get enough of them, the writers clearly had other ideas…

9 and 10. Lucas Fitzgerald and Vanessa Villante (Scott Major and Alin Sumarwata, 2013)

Lucas and Vanessa were victims of a Neighbours cull in 2013, as producers cleared room for the arrival of the Turner and Willis clans. It's thought that producers felt their "two parents and a baby" family set-up was too similar to Toadie and Sonya's, so one couple would have to go.

Many fans were sad to see the back of Lucas and Vanessa so soon after they'd got together, although the writers have softened the blow by bringing them back for guest appearances over the years.

Scott Major, who now works as a director on Neighbours, admitted that his departure came as a "rude shock" and the "feeling of rejection was quite high".

11. Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver, 1996)

Here's an example where even the producers realised they'd made a terrible mistake. Back in 1996, Tom Oliver was told that he was being written out as part of a cast shake-up, which saw the show try to clear out some of the older faces.

When Tom went public with his shock over being axed, fan petitions were drawn up to save his character Lou Carpenter and producers hastily changed their minds. Although Lou did depart as planned, he was story-lined back into episodes pretty quickly afterwards and all was right with the Neighbours-verse again.

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