Neighbours star Stefan Dennis on whether the show will change

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Neighbours star on whether the show will changeFremantleMedia Australia

Neighbours spoilers follow.

Neighbours star Stefan Dennis has ruled out a major change in direction for the show when it re-launches on Amazon Freevee this month.

The free streaming service stepped in to save Neighbours at the end of last year and will be airing the show internationally, including in the US and Canada.

Show bosses have cast The OC star Mischa Barton for the new season, but Stefan – who plays original character Paul Robinson – has insisted that there won't be a new US-focused tone.

Speaking to Digital Spy and other press, Stefan explained: "There isn't much of a change, which is really good – it's a really good sign for us. We did want to go back to the same thing.

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"One of my very first questions to [executive producer] Jason Herbison was: 'Is it going to change? Are we going to Americanise it or keep it the way it is?' He said: 'No, we are fighting tooth and nail to keep it as it is'. That's great.

"I used the analogy of the person who buys the really, really successful restaurant and then they change the menu, tablecloths and the opening hours and the restaurant goes broke.

"It's exactly the same – we didn't want to see Neighbours go broke because of too much Americanisation or changes full stop. They vowed to keep it the old way. We're an Australian show. The reason we're iconic and the reason we're unique to the rest of the world is because we are the quirky Australian show, so don't change it."

Asked whether he had to think long and hard about coming back, Stefan replied: "I'm of a certain age where I don't have to work anymore if I don't want to. I'd decided to go into semi-retirement. I say semi-retirement because actors don't retire – they die.

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"I warmed to the idea of not having to work full time anymore. It got more and more casual and comfortable and then all of a sudden Jason came round one morning out of the blue and said: 'Do you want your job back?'

"It was a case of: 'I rather like this not working full time business'. Also, it was what everyone says: 'Are you afraid of being typecast, afraid of being locked into being on the same show?'

"So all those things were going through my head: 'I've done it for 18 years, maybe I should give up and try something else now'. But then I had my agent and my wife in my ear!"

When Neighbours returns on September 18, two years have passed since the events of the 2022 finale, which saw Ramsay Street unite for Toadie Rebecchi and Melanie Pearson's wedding.

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The time jump helps the show's writers to explain any absent characters, as well as setting up some exciting new storylines.

Stefan continued: "It was a very clever and sensible way for the writers and producers to do it – to give enough understanding to what has happened in the past, to wrap the show and reopen it again, and making it all work really well.

"Paul is being pretty mean at the moment, which is a good thing. How many people always say: 'Are you going to be nice or nasty?' If you say nice, they go: 'Oh!' The fans will be pleased because Paul is up to his usual shenanigans."

Stefan also expressed hope that Neighbours will pick up new fans thanks to the huge reach of Amazon.

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He said: "This is hopefully the time that it's going to work in America and Canada. Unbeknown to a lot of people, we've actually been to America twice and for various reasons it didn't work.

"The first time was very early on. It's when they still had 90210 and they were like: 'What do we want Neighbours for?' Whereas now it's a little bit different because there's been the Australian invasion over there.

"It's going to be a different scenario and of course because it's now got Amazon behind it. Fingers crossed that it might open some doors."

Neighbours returns on September 18, with new episodes streaming on Mondays to Thursdays for free on Amazon Freevee in the UK and US. Network 10 will retain first-run rights in Australia for the new series.

Read more Neighbours coverage on our dedicated homepage.

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