Neighbours fans are looking forward to an exciting few months of storylines as a string of returnees and cast departures look set to shake up life on Ramsay Street.
Digital Spy recently caught up with the soap's executive producer Richard Jasek for a quick catch-up chat about what's coming up in the next few weeks.
The past year has seen quite a few changes to Neighbours both on screen and behind the scenes. What do you think the highlights have been, and what are your aims for pushing things further in 2013?
"I think we had some wonderful storylines last year - from the opening episode with Chris Pappas fighting for his life, our gorgeous Port Douglas interlude, the Kennedys breaking up and establishing new lives, babies, Sheila Canning arriving, Troy Miller returning, the Paul and Priya affair, just to name a few.
"This year is looking equally as dynamic, kicking off with Sarah Beaumont's surprise return - and that is just the tip of the iceberg…"
Recently a number of cast departures have been announced, with Summer, Tash, Andrew, Rhys and Sophie all leaving. Are you disappointed to be losing so many familiar faces from the regular cast?
"It's all part of the evolution of Neighbours and yes, it is hard saying goodbye to cast members because on and off screen, Neighbours is a family.
"However, it also provides great opportunities for new characters to be introduced and developed, and exciting stories to be explored. And of course, there is always the possibility of characters returning, which we do on a regular basis."
Do you think the cast is now looking more stable, or should fans be bracing themselves for more exit announcements anytime soon?
"The lineup of the cast is stable for the moment and we will also have some new additions along the way."
With Jordan Smith and Valentina Novakovic finishing filming at a similar time, is there any hope of a happy ending for Andrew and Tash? Will they leave together?
"Wouldn't that be nice considering what this couple have been through to be together? Without giving too much away, we also like our happy endings on Neighbours!"
Can you give us any hints on how the other departing characters will be leaving the street?
"I don't want to spoil it for the fans, but they will all be leaving Ramsay Street for quite different reasons. As fans have invested in these characters and we respect that, every character should have their own ending."
There's a feeling among the fans that the character of Chris could seem pretty isolated on the street with nearly everyone he's close to leaving the show. Do you have a new direction lined up for him?
"Definitely. Chris will find himself in some interesting situations this year, and while it appears his friends' circle has moved on, this is a character who is extremely warm and friendly and will never be on his own."
With Chris and Aidan splitting up again, would you ever consider having Aidan stick around more permanently, or perhaps bring in a more long-term love interest for Chris?
"I think the Chris and Aidan relationship has evolved beautifully. Aidan could certainly return in the future. However, for the moment, there will be more romantic opportunities for Chris."
There was a great response from fans when the returns of Steph, Sarah and Mark were announced. Would you be open to having some of these guests back for longer, or are they all back for specific stories before leaving?
"With our returning characters, we write for impact and the drama spike they will provide within a big story arc.
"Steph Scully is returning to reclaim what she feels she has lost. It is a guest role but as we've seen time and time again, if the story is there, characters can return.
"Brennan's return and the impact on Kate involves a life-changing decision, while Sarah Beaumont's return affects Karl and Susan - for at least one of them, it's a realisation of what they really want from a relationship."
Viewers have been waiting a long time to find out what's going to happen between Karl and Susan. Are we any closer to a reunion for the two of them?
"The Kennedys will always have a connection. But exactly how that plays out, you'll have to watch to see!"
The new Turner family are sounding pretty intriguing, with talk of them arriving with secrets. What can you tell us about them?
"They all have a secret, an agenda, and moving to Ramsay Street may be the new start that perhaps not all of them realised they needed.
"As for what they're hiding, it has to do with making bad choices, doing the wrong things for the right reasons - which, let's face it, everyone does at some stage in their lives. And that's why I feel the Turners will resonate with viewers."
Can the Kapoors' marriage recover from their recent problems, or are you keen to explore those characters separately for a while?
"I think at the moment we are exploring the characters separately because the affair has had a profound impact on them all."
Is there any hope for Lucas and Vanessa?
"Well, by now you know baby Patrick has arrived and parenthood for Lucas and Vanessa will ensure their lives are inevitably entwined."
Can you give us any hints on Georgia's upcoming story with boyfriend Scotty Boland?
"A revelation will rock the foundations of this relationship forever…"
What's coming up for the Cannings? Could Harley return?
"The Cannings are a fabulous example of an extended family coming together, and we certainly want to explore that further this year - whether it's with Harley or other family members."
Are things likely to go wrong for Toadie and Sonya? Early hints suggest that their wedding might be a dramatic one!
"No matter what happens, these two are destined to be together. It just may not be the easy path they were hoping for!"
Do you have big plans for Paul beyond Andrew's departure?
"We always have plans for Paul Robinson - he is never subdued for long!"
With the recent cast shake-up, are there any plans on the horizon for a new format to the opening titles?
"Yes, we do have plans, which will be revealed shortly…"
Last year's car crash was memorable in terms of having a big moment which also started lots of new stories as a result. Do you have any similar storylines lined up for 2013 which will really shake up life on Ramsay Street?
"Absolutely - watch this space!"
Are there any further teasers you'd like to give us?
"Our focus this year is on the different family units and their dynamics, and what you first see on the surface may not necessarily be the real story. Expect the unexpected!"
> Read the latest 'Neighbours' spoilers and news
Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 in the UK, and weekdays at 6.30pm on Eleven in Australia.
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