> Love Thy Neighbour: Melanie Pearson (2021-2022)
Click here for part one of our Love Thy Neighbour tribute to Melanie.
When news of Lucinda Cowden's return broke in December 2020, it came with questions about how Melanie Pearson would fit into Ramsay Street two decades on from her departure, with no logical place for her to live there was a worry the memory of an iconic Neighbours character would be tarnished. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised...
When Melanie burst back onto our screens in January 2021, at first the focus was on her catching up with old friends and reminding us of her infamous laugh and with Paul oddly avoiding one of the best assistants he'd ever had the obvious place for her in the show was ruled out and it seemed a lengthy return just wouldn't have been sustainable, that was until Melanie went on a blind date with Jarrod 'Toadfish' Rebecchi.
Whether the long-term relationship with Toadie was always intended or the date was supposed to be a C story, offering light hearted comedy for an episode or two, is unclear, but it turned out to be a masterstroke. Pairing these two comic icons who spanned the generations of Neighbours proved to be a huge success with Melanie's vulnerability and sensitivity at following in the footsteps of Toadie's late wife, Sonya helping to ensure she remained the well-rounded character she was first time around instead of becoming a caricature.
Melanie's return and her relationship with Toadie also helped connect the cast of the 80s and 90s in a new way. Karl and Susan who'd largely only interacted with Clive in his role at the hospital and whose friendship with them Jane had taken a backseat after she moved out of Number 28, were now seen sat around the dinner table with them on multiple occasions because of Toadie and Melanie's respective friendships with the two couples, whilst Melanie gave Glen an instant connection outside of the Robinson family upon his return. Even Paul who had managed to alienate most of the characters he was friends with first time around dropped his guard to offer Melanie a shoulder to cry when she needed it showing their friendship hadn't entirely been forgotten.
Whilst there's been the occasional misstep (her bizarre serial affairs with her employers!), the most magical thing about Melanie's return has been her relationship with Toadie's children, particularly his daughter, Nell. Scenes such as Melanie 'speaking to Sonya' or ensuring Nell didn't feel she was taking her Mum's place have ensured Mel recaptured the place in our hearts she held first time around and along with Clive and Jane rightfully claimed her place alongside Ramsay Street stalwarts Karl, Susan, Toadie & Paul to form a magnificent seven strong comfort blanket for fans of any era to tune in to see.
It was only fitting that as Neighbours wrapped up, Melanie was central to the final episode because for the past two years she really has been at the heart of Ramsay Street. Lucinda Cowden has also embraced her return, graciously interacting with fans online and so as we reach the end of the cul-de-sac and celebrate 37 years of Neighbours, we also celebrate 35 years of Melanie Pearson, a Neighbour who will always hold a special place in our hearts.