Neighbours spoilers follow for UK viewers.
Neighbours airs an unmissable set of episodes next week, as Nicolette Stone finally returns to Erinsborough to face the music following the recent baby swap.
Nicolette is forced to come out of hiding after new arrival Britney Barnes, who's the mother of the baby currently being raised by David Tanaka and Aaron Brennan, turns up in Erinsborough to take the youngster back.
All hell looks set to break loose as David, Aaron and their loved ones all discover the shocking truth about what has been going on for the past few weeks.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Charlotte Chimes, who plays Nicolette, to hear more about what's ahead. If you're spoiler-phobic, look away now.
What have you made of all the fan speculation surrounding your future in the show?
"I think it's been great. Most people were saying: 'Oh well, she's not leaving!' Then nights passed and I wasn't back. More nights passed, I still wasn't back and I wasn't in the opening titles either.
"When people asked me about it on social media, I'd just say: 'Sorry! Maybe one day she'll come back. I don't know'. I was really milking it!
"It was nice, especially when people were saying: 'We hate her, but it's so boring without her!'"
Did you see some strong fan theories?
"Yes, people were guessing what was going on and a lot of them were very clever. A lot of people were speculating that Nicolette had given birth to twins, but I was like: 'I don't know if you saw the size of me, but I definitely wasn't pregnant with twins!'
"Another one, which I thought was really good, was that Nicolette was involved with the other mother that she'd made friends with at the birthing class. People thought that Nicolette had handed over her baby. I was thinking: 'That's very, very close to what happened!'
"But whenever I was asked, I just always would say that I didn't know, even though I've known for a year."
How did you feel about Neighbours removing you from the opening titles to keep everyone guessing?
"It was funny, because one of the producers who I'm really good friends with, called me into his office. He was a bit nervous to ask for my opinion, but he told me that they were thinking of taking me off the opening titles.
"I said: 'That's brilliant, you have to. Once I leave, the very next night, I should be taken off the titles. Then when I come back, keep me off for a few nights so people don't know if I'm back for long'.
"I feel like it worked, because the next day, everybody thought that Nicolette was really gone. I think it's great that they did that. It's also nice to know that it's the first time Neighbours have supported a leading story by doing that."
What can you tell us about Nicolette's return?
"In my return episode, it takes up the whole first segment of the show. It was 17 pages and a seven-minute scene of Nicolette walking in and saying hi, while holding a baby.
"Aaron, David, Chloe, Jane and Paul are all standing there. They're about to rush to the hospital, because they've found Britney with the baby they thought was Isla, but it's really Abigail.
"Nicolette then goes on to tell them the story of what happened."
What does Nicolette reveal?
"Before Nicolette left, she went for a walk to clear her head. She ran into her new friend Britney, from antenatal classes, who was also crying.
"Britney explained to Nicolette that she'd come to town to tell her ex-boyfriend that she's pregnant. They'd broken up before she knew, and now he wasn't returning her calls.
"Nicolette figured out that the man Britney was talking about is Leo Tanaka. Nicolette and Britney then decided to flee to Canberra together. Britney felt that Leo wouldn't support her with the birth, while Nicolette didn't want to be anywhere near Chloe, Aaron and David after the betrayal that had just happened."
Were they planning to leave for good?
"They decided to go to Canberra together to support each other through childbirth, but they always planned on going back. Nicolette especially always planned to return.
"Nicolette just needed some space to clear her head, breathe and give birth, without the fuss of everyone around her."
How did things change as time went on?
"Things changed when Paul tracked Nicolette down and offered $1 million for the baby. By that point, Britney was really struggling with post-natal depression. Britney's baby has the same DNA as David, so Nicolette decided to give Paul that baby, while she'd get to keep Isla for herself.
"Nicolette thought it would work out well for everyone. Before the $1 million, Nicolette was always going to go back to Aaron and David.
"Nicolette eventually hears that Britney's in Erinsborough and a baby has gone missing. She realises that she now has to go back and explain this whole story of what happened."
It sounds like there's going to be fireworks...
"Nicolette walks back in and tells them this entire story, although Paul doesn't want Nicolette to say anything about the money and he keeps trying to cut her off.
"The whole reason they're in this horrible mess now is because of Paul. He should have just gone back to Erinsborough and said he'd found Nicolette and she'd had the baby. Then Jane, Aaron and David could have come and they could have worked it out."
Do you think Nicolette can be redeemed?
"I totally believe Nicolette can be redeemed. We were first told about the story a year ago. We had to shoot the Canberra scenes so far in advance, just in case the borders were closed again.
"The producers sat us down in the boardroom and they told us the entire story. It's funny because Matt [Wilson, who plays Aaron] and Takaya [Honda, who plays David] weren't as thrilled with it as I was, I think in a way because it made Nicolette seem not like this horrible, awful, baddie baby thief.
"Instead Nicolette is just a human being – a new mother, who's full of hormones and heartbroken. She was dejected, rejected and sad. It'd be very unkind for anyone to take her on in this situation."
Does Nicolette have regrets?
"When she comes back, she's extremely remorseful about the baby swap. In the moment, she genuinely thought it was the right thing for everyone. She keeps reiterating what her plans were.
"There's also a big thing that happens a couple of weeks later, where she can say: 'This is the proof. I was always coming back'.
"Had Paul not stuck the knife in, they would have all solved this months ago. Nicolette just desperately wanted to be part of a family. When her world came crashing down and she had the baby, she thought: 'Well, this is my family now'."
Things remain tense for Nicolette and Chloe. Do you think they could ever work things out?
"I think Nicolette will always love Chloe, but at this stage the betrayal is just far too great for her to ever entertain letting herself be hurt again.
"If you remember, Chloe told Nicolette that she wanted her. Nicolette said it would be in everyone's best interests if they didn't pursue it, because Nicolette was having the baby for David and Aaron and they were in a good place as friends.
"Chloe was the one who coaxed Nicolette and wanted to make it happen. Nicolette eventually agreed, because she has been in love with Chloe since she met her. But I just think Nicolette would not be dumb enough to go through that again."
Are you back for good?
"Yes, I come back on the opening titles and I'm back until my contract ends or is renewed! I think there's a lot to come later on for Nicolette."
We keep hearing that the end of the year will be huge for Neighbours, and the fans are speculating that Nicolette, David and Aaron will be involved. Is that true?
"Everyone is involved, but we are not at the centre of it. But really, it's pretty huge…"
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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