Neighbours star originally rejected Lana Crawford return

From Digital Spy

Neighbours star Bridget Neval has opened up about why she originally turned down Lana Crawford's return.

Lana is one of a number of characters who will reappear in Erinsborough as part of the soap's 35th anniversary episodes – some 16 years after she made history as Neighbours' first lesbian character.

In advance of her return to screens for the first time since 2005, Bridget Neval has admitted she was hesitant to go back to the iconic role.

"I initially said no – what a buzzkill," she recalled. "I don't act anymore, and I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with a toddler when they asked if I'd return so it didn't seem like good timing.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

"Then the executive producer [Jason Herbison] rang me and explained the storyline they had planned, and I couldn't say no after that. The character doesn't belong to me – it's not my place to say when her story is over.

"When I signed on in 2004, I agreed to play Lana for as long as they wanted her to be on the show and even though so much time has gone past, I still think it's important to honour that. Plus, how could I be the stick in the mud who stops a wedding? Who does that?"

Bridget was also quizzed on the familiar faces she was most excited to see when she arrived on the set after all these years.

"I am so happy for Lana," she teased. "And I'm stoked to see this new dimension to Sky's character too. Steph (McIntosh) has taken Sky through so many huge life changes and evolutions.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

"It's a huge testament to her acting and the show's writing that they've been able to take Sky through teen rebellion, sexual expression and discovery, grief, and young motherhood, and still keep the character feeling consistent. I'm really excited to work with Steph again.

"My favourite fan reactions will be any die-hard Sky/Lana shippers who have been imagining them getting together since '04. I would love for there to be some people out there who always wished for it but didn't really think the show would go there.

"I'm also sure there will be some people who are gutted that she doesn't end up with Dylan, but who knows what the 40th anniversary will bring?"

Asked how it felt to be celebrating 35 years of Neighbours, the actress said: "Honestly, the plan for the characters made me think that the current writers and producers must be genuine long-term fans of the show.

Photo credit: Channel 5
Photo credit: Channel 5

"To have Lana return and be with Sky seems like the people in charge going, 'Okay, this is where we wish the show could have gone back then. Let's make it happen'.

"It really feels like the people running the show have an emotional investment in the characters and in finishing their stories properly, which is insane and incredible considering how many characters and storylines Neighbours has had over 35 years. It's really special."

Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 (UK) and 6.30pm on 10 Peach (Australia).

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