Neighbours spoilers follow.
In our latest Neighbours chat, we’re catching up with Charlotte Chimes about her time playing the often-controversial role of Nicolette Stone.
Charlotte spoke to Insertions.us just two weeks before filming ended for the iconic Australian soap, reflecting on the show’s conclusion, a cancelled story for her character and fan reactions to Nicolette.
What has the atmosphere been like on set as you’ve been filming the final episodes?
“It’s been a real rollercoaster for everyone. I’ve only been there for two years, compared with Jackie [Woodburne, who plays Susan] and Fletch [Alan Fletcher, who plays Karl], who’ve been there for much longer.
“There was the initial upset that it was over and then the acceptance of that. Then we all came together and said: ‘Let’s make this the best ending of the show that we possibly can’.
“It’s starting to get quite nostalgic and reality is setting in.”
What can you tease about the final episodes?
“Who’s coming back has been released, but maybe there’s more? The best way to describe the final episodes is a tapestry. Erinsborough and Neighbours is this rich tapestry of past and present and it intertwines. I think everyone will be really happy with the way it’s wrapped up.”
Were you shocked when news of the show’s cancellation broke?
“I wasn’t overly surprised, unfortunately. I was hopeful for the future like the rest of my colleagues – not just for myself and everyone I work with, but also the Australian industry and all of our loyal fans across the globe, especially in the UK.
“But economically it makes sense. Everyone watches streamers these days. That’s why there was so much chat about whether Neighbours could be reformatted to go onto a streamer – and maybe it will one day. Maybe it’ll be Neighbours but new, for the day and age we’re living in.”
How have you found the last few months?
“It’s funny, I just got stopped on the street by a couple who recognised me from the show. They wanted to congratulate us on Neighbours and said we should all feel proud we were on this iconic show at the end.
“I think that’s summed it up for me. I feel immense gratitude that I was cast as Nicolette, that I got to work during the pandemic and that I’m on one of the most iconic Australian shows ever made. I can’t imagine another show having this kind of impact.”
Are you glad the team had enough notice to wrap things up properly?
“Absolutely. I kept saying that to my friends and my colleagues: ‘Thank God we’ve got three months’ notice and it’s not two weeks’. That would have been ripping the carpet from underneath us.
“Thank goodness the team had time to really prepare. Everyone always needs more time, and everyone has been run off their feet preparing for the finale, but thank goodness we had those months.”
Have any plans for Nicolette had to change?
“I think it’s all been going as planned, but it’s probably been sped up. It’s a shame that a few things that I knew were coming up for her aren’t happening now, as I would have loved to have been able to enjoy those stories.
“Nicolette’s dad was going to be coming and we didn’t have time for that. That was one thing I was really looking forward to – exploring the Jane and Nicolette dynamic and how the dad would affect that.”
Do you feel like Nicolette had a lot of potential which has now been cut short?
“With soap, it’s cyclic. I was fortunate to have the main storyline for basically a year, then this year I’ve taken more of a back seat in the storylines.
“I would have liked to explore more things with Nicolette – like does she try to get back into nursing? What about the father dynamic? Dating? There were a lot of things that the character could have done, but maybe that’s just the way it is, with the show ending.”
Do you think Nicolette would have become a fully-fledged villain, or would we have continued to see both sides of her?
“I think we would continue to see both sides of her, but Nicolette would have always been a bit of a villain. I have loved playing that. That is the best part. When things are really sweet and sincere, I get a bit bored!
“I really like it when Nicolette is going head-to-head with Paul, Jane or the boys. Sometimes when she’s remorseful, I get very protective of her and I think: ‘Well, she’s not entirely wrong and why is she always the one apologising?’
“It’s funny how I go into bat for this fictional character. When she’s being naughty, that’s what I enjoy the most.”
How did you feel when you found out that Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan would be returning?
“I thought it was great. I didn’t think that Kylie would be back. I thought Jason was a possibility. But it’s amazing they’ve come back. I was hopeful that they would come back for the fans, even if it was something small.
“But I was also hopeful that the wrap of Neighbours was what the show is now, not reminiscing too much on the past, because the show has progressed dramatically. That’s why the finale is a tapestry because it all intertwines.”
Can you share your fondest memories?
“Probably whenever I was in the Tanaka house, in a full day of scenes with Matt [Wilson, who plays Aaron], Takaya [Honda, who plays David] and Annie [Jones, who plays Jane]. We’d play around, goof around and laugh.
“There were so many times I’d say to myself: ‘I can’t believe this is work. I feel so grateful and happy’. So those are some of the fondest memories. It’s those small moments in-between, where you catch yourself and you’re there having a great time.
“Storyline-wise, the baby plot was so controversial and I loved how upset it made people! It was so funny reading all the stuff online about how much people hated Nicolette, but I’d much rather be talked about as a character than not at all.”
Did you have a least favourite storyline?
“I think maybe the least favourite storyline is not having a big story for a little while, so being in a support story.
“In saying that, one day I had six scenes back-to-back in Harold’s. They felt like ‘not much’ and ‘nothing’ scenes. Not that any scene is nothing, as it’s always pushing a story forward in some way.
“So on that day, I told the director I had all these ideas to make it funny. They were scenes where Glen came into Harold’s and I thought of some weird, quirky things I could do to bring the scenes to life in the most Nicolette way possible.”
Could Neighbours return?
“I think we need to accept that, in its current form, on its current networks, it’s over. But maybe it could be reinvented in another life, in a new way on a streaming platform.
“Maybe it could happen in that way – something new but still something old. Don’t give up hope entirely, but as it stands, the finale will air and that will be it.”
How long were you planning on staying for?
“I had a three-year contract, so I will have done two of my years. If I didn’t book 007 to be the new James Bond, I probably would have done my third year!”
Do you have plans for life after Neighbours?
“Yes, I am shooting a short film that I wrote. I’m producing and acting in it and Kate Kendall, one of the actors and producers from Neighbours, is going to be directing it. Some of the crew from Neighbours are involved too.
“I’ve sadly just given up my apartment in Melbourne, which I absolutely adore. I’m going to spend a bit of time in Queensland and Sydney, but then I’m coming to London, Italy and Spain. I’d love to work in the West End, in your British sitcoms and dramas. Hopefully someone will hire me.”
Are you planning to steal anything from the set?
“I’m going to take a lot of my wardrobe because Nicolette does have exceptional style, if I do say so myself! Other than that, I wouldn’t know where to start. I want to keep my lanyard from Erinsborough Hospital when I was a nurse, and I’ve got the pregnancy stick from Nicolette’s pregnancy. It’s probably a bit weird that I’m keeping that!
“I know Bek [Elmaloglou, who plays Terese] is determined to get the chairs in the Tanaka house, which are so squeaky and terrible for the sound department, because she grew up with some just like those!”
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 6pm on Channel 5 and streams on My5. The series finale will air in the UK on July 29 at 9pm on Channel 5.
In Australia, the show airs Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach and streams on 10 Play. The series finale will air in Australia on July 28 at 7.30pm, simulcast on 10 and 10 Peach.