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Comment > The Perfect Blend by Mark

It's been a constant in our lives for almost four decades, but it seems our treasured tea-time treat may have finally run out of road...

When we set up The Perfect Blend in 2003, it was the early days of online fan communities. We had all met and chatted and dissected our favourite show on message boards such as Erinsborough.com or The Neighbours Message Board and suddenly realised there were a whole lot more of us out there than we thought. There was also a gaping hole online of information relating to Neighbours. Shaunna O'Grady, who played Beverly Robinson, remarked in her interview with the site that she wished there had been a character bible around for Bev like the profile on PB when she took over the role from Lisa Armytage. Writers, producers, directors and actors associated with all eras of the show spoke to us - and as some of them passed on in the years that followed, it felt even more worthwhile to have a place where their memories and experiences working with Neighbours has been recorded. The continuity on the show also changed - The Perfect Blend became a reference point for obscure bits of knowledge about the show and was handy for moments when a character had to reference back to a situation from years previous. The character details around the returns of Sky Mangel and Paul Robinson, occurring in the same time period as The Perfect Blend debuted, were no doubt enhanced by the information that was there about them and we saw that continue in the years that followed - especially when Neighbours started to really cherish the rich heritage it had over the last decade.

In many ways, the last 10 years has been building to this moment. Jason Herbison's arrival as executive producer in 2013 meant that the show was in the hands of a passionate fan at last - someone who knew their Robinsons from their Ramsays, their Kennedys from their Clarkes and their Eden Hills from their Elliott Park. The first signs of a real recognition of the rich history that was waiting to be mined - not for nostalgia, but for the purposes of the show and its characters at that moment in time - came when Lauren Carpenter and her brood moved into Ramsay Street. Suddenly Lou Carpenter - at that point the show's longest-serving character - was no longer wandering around looking for relevance. He had a big multi-generational family around him, a classic Neighbours dynamic. Lauren's return, albeit played by a different actress, was quickly followed by that of her ex-boyfriend Brad Willis, also played by a different actor. With Brad came another new family - his wife Terese, played by the iconic Rebekah Elmaloglou and their teenage kids. And it was obvious from that point that revisiting the big affair storyline that had happened with Brad and Lauren from the 1990s was going to provide unmissable drama in the months and years ahead.

The return of Brad also opened up the door to more classic characters - most notably his parents, Doug and Pam Willis. Around this time, original character Lucy Robinson also made a return after a long absence - and quickly became a Rosemary Daniels-type presence on the show with intermittent appearances ever since. Scott and Charlene's son Daniel arrived, Steph Scully was brought back and rehabilitated and Madeleine West reprised her role as Dee (or was it Andrea?) and was part of a major storyline that ran for a number of years which finally answered the question about what had happened to Dee on that fateful wedding day. Some characters were dusted off to be part of the wider world in a recurring capacity such as Hilary Robinson, Clive Gibbons and Beverly Robinson. The 30th and 35th anniversaries provided opportunities to indulge us with special appearances from the likes of Des Clarke, Tom Ramsay, Mark Gottlieb, Dylan Timmins and an emotional reunion for Madge and Harold Bishop. Even Alan Dale, now a Hollywood heavyweight, managed to bring Jim Robinson back from the dead for a memorable Christmas cameo. And the regular cast once again includes Jane Harris, Melanie Pearson, Glen Donnelly and Amy Greenwood. In a way, the signs have been there for some time - Neighbours has been celebrating itself with a lengthy love letter to fans these last few years so that as we reach this point, it has hat tipped everything from Paul's ex-wives and the House of Trouser to Mr Udugawa and the reestablishment of The Waterhole. And it's all been rounded off with a Helen Daniels-Nell Mangel great-great-grandchild!

Whatever the next few months bring, there is no doubt that the viewers, the fans, the friends... will be satisfied with a perfect blend.