7 big secrets about Neighbours' London episodes

Daniel Kilkelly
Photo credit: Channel 5

From Digital Spy

Neighbours returns to London for the first time in 10 years next week, as the explosive conclusion to the Fake Dee Bliss storyline takes place on British soil. But hang on a minute, how did they manage to film a week's worth of episodes over here without anyone realising? Is there some TV magic at work?

Very intrigued by this soapy mystery, we did some digging to find out the following seven secrets about Neighbours' London week.

1. We'll see a host of iconic London locations

Photo credit: Channel 5

As you've probably already heard, Neighbours' dramatic storyline sees fan favourite Toadie Rebecchi arrive in the capital to search for his back-from-the-dead wife Dee Bliss, following her abrupt exit from Erinsborough. Still unaware that "Dee" is actually a ruthless conwoman called Andrea Somers, a distraught Toadie wants answers on why she left without saying goodbye.

Since Toadie isn't exactly sure where "Dee" is, he has to follow a trail of clues left behind on "their" daughter Willow's Instagram page, as she's been posting pictures from some very famous landmarks.

Dr Karl Kennedy is also on Toadie's trail in the latter half of the week, after his wife Susan sends him to London to help out their old friend in his desperate time of need.

With both Neighbours legends hitting the streets of London, several scenes were filmed specially on location and you should expect to see Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and the London Eye all popping up in the episodes. And – spoiler alert – St Thomas's Hospital is there too...

2. Not all the scenes were filmed in London

Photo credit: Eleven

This isn't too surprising if you really think about it, but not every scene set in London was actually filmed there. Fear not, as all of the scenes filmed at the iconic landmarks are totally genuine and the real deal (unlike Dee!) – there's been no sneaky CGI or other tricks with those.

The same can't be said for Toadie's "London hotel room", which was actually a set specially built at Neighbours HQ in Melbourne for this storyline.

As we hinted earlier, some scenes also take place at St Thomas's Hospital, but while we see exteriors of the building which were genuinely filmed in London, the hospital interiors were all shot in Melbourne on another specially-built set. But thanks to the magic of TV, it'll all be woven together seamlessly in the episodes – phew.

3. The London scenes were filmed three months apart

Photo credit: Channel 5

Showing just how far Neighbours plans its big stories in advance, the team actually had a massive three-month gap in between filming different stages of the London storyline. This is because Alan Fletcher and Ryan Moloney, who play Karl and Toadie, were never in the capital at the same time.

Alan filmed Karl's scenes in London on the afternoon of Thursday, October 6 last year. At the time, he was over here on a publicity trip to promote Neighbours' balloon crash episodes, but half a day was set aside for him to also do filming for London Week, which had been planned by the writers since halfway through last year.

Ryan didn't come over to the UK until January, when he did his own publicity work to promote the early stages of the Dee storyline (back when we thought she was the real deal).

Just like Alan, Ryan only had half a day to film his scenes. These were shot on the morning of Thursday, January 26, just hours after he'd hit the red carpet at the National Television Awards at The O2.

4. Fake Dee and Willow didn't actually come to London

Photo credit: Channel 5

Perhaps fittingly, Fake Dee and her troubled daughter only ever stepped foot in Fake London. Neighbours legend Madeleine West and new cast member Mieke Billing-Smith weren't involved in any on-location filming in the UK, so they only appear in interior scenes.

One tiny exception is a scene – already teased in Neighbours' official London trailer – where Willow witnesses Toadie getting knocked over by a black cab outside his hotel. This is one exterior scene which had to be filmed on location in Melbourne, due to Mieke not being present on the London trip. It looks very authentic though, with a red postbox even added in the background for good measure.

Incidentally, Madeleine told us in a recent Digital Spy interview that she'd love to pop over to the UK again at some point, but being mum to six young kids back home in Australia comes first for her at the moment.

5. The London scenes were filmed by a tiny crew

Photo credit: Fremantle Media

While there's a huge team behind Neighbours' everyday episodes, the location scenes in London were filmed by a tiny crew. For both trips, only a small handful of crew members were needed to come over, including a DOP/Camera Operator, Sound Recordist and Location Manager.

As you've probably noticed, Neighbours is doing a lot more location filming in general at the moment, as seen in recent scenes with the likes of Paige, David, Sonya, Mark, Leo and Amy heading out of Ramsay Street to go out and about in Melbourne. This means the Neighbours team are fast becoming experts at quickly filming short scenes out and about in small guerilla units.

6. Producers wanted to keep the filming top secret

Photo credit: Fremantle Media

When Neighbours filmed in London for Karl and Susan's wedding in 2007, everybody knew they were over shooting a special storyline in the UK. It was the same when Home and Away came over to London with the River Boys a few years ago.

In this case, nobody really knew that Neighbours had been filming in London until we saw a brief glimpse of Karl by Big Ben in the show's 2017 trailer. Even after that, it was a secret that Ryan had been filming until Neighbours officially announced the London episodes earlier this month.

Our insiders have told us that Neighbours were keen to keep their cards very close to their chests with this particular storyline, wanting the details of Fake Dee's final week to be kept under wraps for as long as possible.

Thanks to the quick and easy approach taken to filming, with cast never staying in one location for too long, Neighbours found it pretty easy to film without attracting too much attention on both filming days. They also found that Londoners are used to seeing cameras while out and about, with many simply going about their business while Ryan and Alan got to work.

7. The episodes are brilliant

Photo credit: Channel 5

We've been lucky enough to watch the London week in advance and fans are in for a treat, with standout performances from Ryan Moloney, Madeleine West and Eve Morey (Sonya) as the repercussions of what happens in London reverberate around Ramsay Street too.

We advise fans to strap themselves in for a bumpy ride and have the tissues ready...

Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.

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