Neighbours

Neighbours star Richard Huggett on Glen Donnelly ending and show finale

As we get closer to the end of Neighbours, Insertions.us is continuing with our series of interviews with the current cast to help celebrate their work on the show.

Today, we’re catching up with Richard Huggett, who reprised his role as Glen Donnelly in 2021 after nearly 30 years away from the soap.

Chatting just a few weeks before filming ended, Richard reflected on his return as Glen and the decision to bring Neighbours to a conclusion after 37 years.

What has the atmosphere been like on set while you’ve been filming these final episodes?

“The atmosphere on set has been quite sad. People are happy-sad! It’s surreal and everyone has a different journey that they’re taking, and a different story they have to tell over how they feel about it.

“For me, it’s: ‘What’s next?’ There are other things I’ve been going for – and for a lot of people it’s the same. They’re hoping they can go straight into other work, which is highly impossible for an actor.”

Can you tease the final episode?

“It’s beautifully written, very poignant and very celebratory.”

Was it a surprise when the news came through that the show was ending?

“I think when I first re-joined the cast about a year ago, there was uncertainty then over whether the show would go ahead.

“When it was confirmed earlier this year, that’s when it really did shock people – especially the long-term crew and cast. The reality hit. Although even now, people can’t believe that it’s ending.”

Are you glad the team were given time to plan a fitting ending?

“Oh, definitely. I’m glad there’s been time to plan the ending.

“I’m also glad that Neighbours is going to end in a celebratory way, rather than having a tornado, or everyone falling into a giant sinkhole. It is really good that we were given so much time to plan and to prepare.”

Have Glen’s storylines had to change since the cancellation was announced?

“I think everything has played out as planned, as far as I know. We’ve had the Kiri story, the Terese story, and the vineyard story with the accident.

“It’s all coming together and resolving, so I think it’s played out the way they planned it. I don’t think anything has changed with the way it’s going.”

What did you make of the seemingly-doomed Glen and Terese relationship?

“I think Glen needs Terese more than she needs him. She still has a connection to Paul and that has worried Glen a lot. I think he’s a bit too needy for her.”

How did you feel about Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan returning?

“The rumours were going around that they were returning, and then rumours that they weren’t. Then suddenly Jason was over here because his daughter Jemma [who played Harlow] was leaving. He was coming over here to help Jemma move back to England.

“Kylie had moved back to Australia, so it made sense that they would appear. It’s exciting that they have come back. It just adds to it all.

“I guess I was surprised that they came back, but then again, this is the show that made them, so they were probably really grateful to be asked to come back.”

What are your fondest memories of playing Glen?

“My favourite storyline would be when Glen first came back this time and surprised Paul. The scene that we shot where Paul was looking out to sea and Glen came up behind him and said: ‘It’s been a long time’. That’s one of my favourite scenes to have shot.

“All of the River Bend stuff was great and working with Stefan [Dennis, who plays Paul] and Rebekah [Elmaloglou, who plays Terese]. I’ve worked with them a lot, and of course Tim [Kano, who plays Leo] as well. It’s been a great bunch of people to work with.”

Did you have a least favourite storyline?

“I think they were all good! The least favourite storyline is when there isn’t really a storyline happening. After you’ve had a major storyline, you go into a bit of a lull and you’re just there in the background. You’re still part of scenes but nothing’s really happening. That’s my least favourite part of it.”

What did you make of the outpouring of love Neighbours received when the cancellation was announced?

“That was quite amazing, especially on social media with the amount of fans wishing us all well. You don’t realise how loved it is – and the people who’ve been watching from the very beginning and haven’t missed an episode.

“It’s quite bizarre, as I just haven’t been into a show that much from beginning to end, especially for 37 years! It is amazing to feel the love.”

Could Neighbours return?

“I think we have to accept that it’s over, ultimately. Because the actors are going to go onto other things and move on, for one! I don’t know how it would work.

“Without a UK broadcaster, I don’t see it happening unless someone steps in to be the saviour. We have to just accept that’s the end and celebrate it.”

If the show had continued, would you have stuck around beyond June?

“Yeah, definitely. If I was asked to stay beyond, I would have stayed. I couldn’t put a timeline on how long I would have stayed, as it would have depended on stories and what else would be out there.

“But I definitely would have stayed on because I’ve been having a great time and I love Melbourne as well.”

What are your future plans?

“I’ve been auditioning for other series. Mainly short, six-part series for some of the streaming services. I’m just waiting to hear back on those.

“Other than that, I’ll be moving back to Brisbane and having a road trip along the way, driving all over the country as it’ll take a couple of weeks to go back. I’ll just see what happens and see where the work takes me.”

Were you keen for Glen to get a happy ending?

“Yeah definitely, because Glen had a sad ending the last time when he fell off the roof! It was similar when the barrel fell on him at the vineyard. I thought: ‘Oh no, not again!’ It was really important that he has a happy resolve – some sort of resolution.”

Have you had any input into the final weeks of Glen?

“No, I just let the storyliners, writers and producers do all of that. You can always go to them and say ‘I’ve got an idea’ but they usually go, ‘Yeah, great… Yeah, maybe another time…’ (Laughs.) They’ve had full control over the last few months.”

Will you be stealing anything from the set?

“Probably just some jeans! Glen wears some nice jeans, so I asked the wardrobe guy if I could have some. So probably just a bit of costume.

“I think with the props, you can’t take anything otherwise it’d be a free-for-all, with crew that have been there for 30 years. So no, just some clothes!”

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.