Neighbours spoilers follow.
Neighbours legend Alan Fletcher has backed former co-star Tim Robards over his "agonising" decision to leave the show early.
Show bosses recently announced that Tim had bowed out from his role as Pierce Greyson earlier than planned, due to changing travel restrictions in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tim and his wife Anna Heinrich are expecting their first child, so he made the decision to fly back to Sydney to focus on his family commitments.
Don Hany has now taken over the role of Pierce for the character's dramatic final weeks on screen. The on-screen switch will take place in the coming weeks.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy's new Soap Scoop podcast, Alan explained: "It is an unfortunate situation here. Tim absolutely must stay at home.
"In Australia, we have a border lockdown between the state of Victoria, where Neighbours is shot, and New South Wales, where Tim lives.
"His wife is heavily pregnant and he can't risk having to do two weeks' quarantine when he returns to Sydney, because he wouldn't be able to see her. It'd be a disaster for them as a family.
"It was an agonising decision for him to make, but I think we all agree it was the right decision."
On Don taking over, Alan laughed: "Because of COVID, he happens to be free because all work has stopped! So we have the bonus of having one of the finest on the show playing Pierce, and that's Don Hany.
"I think it's going to be one of those situations where Don comes in and he'll wear Pierce's clothes very well."
Neighbours has history of recasting actors at short notice, as Cheryl Stark had a temporary replacement in 1995 and Libby Kennedy also needed a brief recast in 2008.
Hit play below to listen to our full chat with Alan, as he reflects on the Libby recast and his 26-year history on Neighbours, as well as discussing future storylines.
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 (UK) and 6.30pm on 10 Peach (Australia).
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