Stefan Dennis has been a part of hit Australian soap Neighbours since it began in 1985, playing the often troubled Paul Robinson, who was Jim Robinson's eldest son and the older brother of Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) and Lucy (now played by Melissa Bell). Stefan will be reuniting with returning Neighbours legends Guy Pearce, Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Ian Smith, Margot Robbie and more in the final-ever Neighbours episode on Channel 5 on Friday July 29 at 9pm.
So as Neighbours at last draws to a close with its part in TV soap history assured, Stefan Dennis reveals how he feels about the end of the show...
How did Stefan Dennis feel when you heard the news that Neighbours was ending?
Stefan says: "Even after we got the news, officially, we were still like, "Oh no, maybe it will get saved at the last minute." But no, no, no, it's well and truly sunk in now. The truth is it is a big shock to everybody. But the other truth is, we've also got over that shock. Now we're moving on and deciding what we're going to do post Neighbours, if you like, and in the meantime, we just want to make sure that we see the show off in style, give it the ending it deserves and the fans will be happy with."
How did it feel to see the reaction from the fans?
Stefan says: "It was really good. Honestly, it was genuinely really nice that people were so loyal to the show and loved the show so much that they did go out and do stuff like start a petition to keep it on air. It was like, 'Wow, that is incredible that people feel that passionate about wanting the show to go on, and how they feel, and what it's meant to their lives'."
Has Neighbours changed you as a person in any way?
Stefan says: "Yeah, I think so. I think it'd be unfair to say it didn't, simply because of the fundamental thing that I've grown and matured just as my character and the show has, because of the amount of time it's been around. Take, for example, the character I play, Paul, I've actually seen that character develop and grow over a course four decades. But also, I think it's taught me a lot of things about the industry, certainly, and how to handle certain things within the industry, hopefully what to avoid in the industry, too!|
The Robinsons will always be an iconic Neighbours family, and Paul Robinson a legendary character... how does that feel to be part of that legacy?
Stefan says: "Without sounding like I'm putting tickets on myself, I think a lot of that legendary status is due to the fact that Paul Robinson has kept it all going, kept the Robinson legacy going for so long. If you look at him now, he is the patriarchal figure of the Robinson clan, and I guess followed by Lucy, Lucy is almost the matriarchal side of the Robinsons now. So, it's the legacy of those children that have kept it going, because it was just an ordinary family, and then it became more and more and more powerful with what the siblings did over the years. They turned the Robinsons into a force to be reckoned with."
Do you have a favourite Neighbours storyline that you've done over the years?
Stefan says: "I've had so many journeys. One was Paul's cancer scare, when he was having the chemo with evil Dr. Nick a few years ago. And the chemotherapy was what was actually making him sick. We actually got some really good feedback from that and the way that we handled that storyline, which was good. It's always nice when you're doing something and you go, “oh God, we're trying to tell a story”, but the truth about it is, it's a bit of television drama, but even though it is just a bit of television drama, we do have to be truthful about it. So, when you get some positive feedback, it's good. But, oh God, that's like asking, who's your favourite kid? Because I can't, there’s been so many storylines. It's just a treasure trove. I'll tell you a really good storyline I love. It was the last time Robert was in when he was in prison and Paul came to him for help. That was a really good storyline. I really liked that because I really enjoyed working with Adam on that one. It was great. He was so menacing in it though. He was so believably menacing, I thought it was really good."
Do you have a favourite storyline that you weren’t involved in?
Stefan reveals: "Yeah, there was a tragedy a fair while ago, it was where Kerry got shot, the whole duck hunting and protesting against the ducks and all that. I thought that was quite cool. That was a good storyline. There's been some really marvellous stuff over the years, like Eve and Ryan doing Sonya's death. Oh my God, that was gut wrenching, absolutely gut wrenching. It just told the absolute truth; they didn't try to cover it with any huge drama or anything like that. Absolutely stunning."
Where's the weirdest place you've been recognised?
Stefan Dennis: "I get recognised everywhere! I did get recognised, and this was way back, long before Neighbours was even known of its existence in America. I was living in LA in '93, I was going to a bit of a celebrity spot bar. The manager was English, spots me, and she's like, 'Oh, whenever you want to come, just open house. You're the guest. Oh my God, you're Paul Robinson." And this was in the middle of LA where nobody knew me. But I've also been on treks in the middle of the jungle and had someone going, 'Oh my God, it's you, it's Paul Robinson.' But the craziest one was one time I was on my motorcycle with a full-face helmet on, admittedly, no sunglasses, a full-face helmet on, in all leathers, and some person is walking across the street, and they're like, 'Oh my God. It's Paul Robinson.' You know me from my eyes? That’s a bit creepy! "
* Neighbours: The Finale airs Friday 29 July at 9pm on Channel 5
* Neighbours airs Monday – Friday at 1:45pm and 6pm on Channel 5
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.