Neighbours spoilers follow for UK viewers.
Neighbours has kicked off a big new storyline for Ned Willis, Amy Greenwood and Levi Canning.
Ned and Levi have both been casually dating Amy in recent weeks, but when their jealousy and rivalry threatened to spiral out of control, they all came close to going their separate ways.
Viewers have now seen Ned make an alternative suggestion for their future – he and Levi could both become official with Amy and enter into a polyamorous relationship. After some initial reluctance, all three are now on board with the idea.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Ben Hall, who plays Ned, to hear his thoughts on the storyline.
What was your first reaction when the bosses told you about this storyline?
"We had a sit-down chat with the producers about it, just to fill us in on what was coming up. It's a somewhat sensitive topic and it's never been done on the show before, so they wanted to make sure that we were all comfortable with it.
"We were surprised, but there are only so many storylines that Neighbours hasn't covered before and this is one of them. It was cool and it's interesting to explore."
What made Ned suggest a polyamorous relationship to Amy and Levi?
"A number of reasons. Ned sees himself as a guy who doesn't really get jealous, so he thinks he can deal with that side of things. He thought this could make Amy happy and that this was the easiest way to negate the competition between him and Levi for Amy's attention.
"Ned thought: 'Why not give it a try?' He felt he could deal with the jealousy so if Levi could too, it could all work out well."
How is Neighbours approaching the story? Is the show focusing on the sexy side, or will upcoming episodes explore the different aspects of polyamorous relationships?
"I think we're trying to do a bit of both. In true Neighbours fashion, they always want to keep it a bit sexy, a bit racy and turn a few heads.
"But at the same time, all three of us have been having chats with the writers and producers about putting in as much material to make the story as true to life as possible.
"We don't want to depict it in a way that is overly sexualised or anything like that. We want to have viewers that are maybe not aware of polyamorous relationships be intrigued and learn something, rather than it just being a frivolous nothing, or a relationship that people just condemn."
Were you pleased that Neighbours wanted to explore this?
"Yeah, I think we were all intrigued about it. Jacinta [Stapleton, who plays Amy] has got a friend who's in a polyamorous relationship and has been for years. She said: 'Great, I can ask her some questions'.
"She was coming back to us when we had questions about things – such as time, how do you allocate things, do you have a schedule?
"It was good to be able to explore that and definitely intriguing to the three of us. I think when anything's new like that and it hasn't been done before, you want to do it justice."
Can you tease how this goes for Ned, Amy and Levi?
"Amy and Levi were shocked when Ned first brought it up. Ned and Levi aren't particularly close. Ned and Amy are also pretty fresh, and Ned has only recently come out of a relationship with Yashvi.
"I think they were surprised that Ned would be willing to suggest it – maybe they didn't think that he would be so open-minded.
"They definitely sit down and come up with some ground rules, as they think it's all going to implode on them. Karl and Kyle are both very intrigued by how that works, so there's a lot of questions. They definitely have to have some pretty solid rules."
Does it have the desired effect in terms of reducing the element of competition between Ned and Levi?
"At the beginning it definitely solves that problem. There's always a level of banter there between them, so it starts off awkward and they use a bit of humour to get through it.
"As it develops, I think each of them find moments where they're feeling a bit more jealous, so there's some competition that rears its head again."
Do you think this is the right decision for these three characters?
"I think probably it'll end in tears, but that's because it's Neighbours! I'm sure other people out there, who aren't as unstable as the characters on the Street, would probably manage it much better."
How did you feel about Olivia Junkeer leaving her role as Yashvi?
"I think Olivia probably chose a really good time to leave. In terms of work here, there's plenty of stuff around. She's doing really well, she's auditioning and she's happy.
"I think it was a good move for her career, but sad for us to lose her and sad for me to lose one of my best friends. I love working with her so that was a shame, but we all see each other and catch up outside of work.
"We all had dinner together for Ben Turland's birthday just before lockdown. I think she'll do really well."
Do you hope Yashvi could make a return for Ned's exit if he ever left?
"Yeah, I think there's a really good storyline in there somewhere, because Yashvi's still up in Sydney working as a cop. Ned still has his nefarious background stuff that he's had going on in the past, so I think it'd be a great storyline linking that up somehow if Ned has to leave the show. I think that'd be a really good way for him to go."
Are you keen to stick around for now, though?
"Definitely, I really love being there with such great people. Coming out the other side of lockdowns, I think the show will only improve because it'll allow us to do some bigger storylines again and shoot off-site.
"It opens up so many more opportunities so I'm looking forward to a bit longer! You never know though, do you?"
The producers have promised some bigger stories later this year...
"Yeah, there is a massive story going on. It's being filmed on the other side of the building, which I don't have anything to do with. We're still split into separate groups – location and studio.
"But that is the big main storyline. I've been watching and reading quite a bit of that. I'm pretty sure the climax to that will be at the end of the year.
"There's also a heap going on in this polyamorous relationship over the next few months, so that'll be around the end of the year as well.
"There's some fun stuff too. I'm glad they've got a bit of comedy as well and hopefully people will get a laugh out of that."
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 (UK) and Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach (Australia).
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