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Features > Now & Forever by Callum, David and Steve

Watching Steph, Libby and Toadie deal with looking after kids, Paul limping around being evil and Lou… doing nothing, it’s hard to believe that their lives were ever different. But here, we look back at seven of Neighbours’ longest-running characters, and reflect on why we loved them back then, and why we still love them now...

The biker chick with a penchant for men who were no good for her, Stephanie Scully was a breath of fresh air when she arrived on Ramsay Street with her leathers and no-nonsense attitude. She provided Libby, whose closest friendship to date was with Brett Stark, with a female friend, then proceeded to fall in love with Drew, Libby's fiance. Her ability to fall for the wrong bloke continued as she became embroiled in ill-advised flings with ex-boyfriend Woody and the unpleasant Mitch Foster, then found out her fiance Marc was in love with her sister, Flick - right in the middle of the wedding ceremony. But despite the disasters that seemed to befall her on an alarmingly regular basis, Steph maintained a fighting spirit in her early years that turned her into one of the show's most popular characters.


Since those first few years of getting to know Steph, we've seen the character go through two more weddings, give birth to a son, divorce and beat cancer twice. Somewhere in the middle, she lost a little of her spirit, but thankfully these days she's back to her old self again. Her relationships with Max and Toadie both came to an end, and new boyfriend Jay turned out to be a pyromaniac, who tried to kill her, and frankly all that would have been enough to bring anyone down. But after a few months of moping, Steph decided to make some changes; she sold the bar she'd been running for a couple of years and returned to her old love of motorbikes, taking a job at the garage, which also allowed her to spend more time with her son. She also showed that she still had the ability to pick the wrong man, becoming involved with married Greg Michaels, leading to brawls with his wife Veronica, and a massive falling-out with best mate Libby. Indeed, her recent behaviour might be winning her few fans, but it's proof that the Scully temperament is still alive and well in Ramsay Street.

15 going on 50, Libby Kennedy arrived on Ramsay Street, a strong-willed, opinionated teenager wise beyond her years, or so she thought. Always butting heads with her father for his stubbornness, a trait she had herself inherited, her wisdom passed down from her mother, Susan enabled her to be her mother’s biggest support in times of trial, as Susan was to her. Be it through her father’s affair with Sarah Beaumont, her parent’s divorce or her own relationship woes with Darren Stark & Drew Kirk, the mother and daughter were always by each other’s side, in fact, until the arrival of Steph Scully, Libby had little in the way of female friends, her closest friend being Brett Stark. Her stubbornness was a blessing and a curse, following a motorcycle accident which left her unlikely to carry a baby to term, the news of Libby’s pregnancy caused great concern for her family, but ever-determined, she continued and gave birth to a son, Ben, almost dying in the process – of course, she survived, possibly just to prove her family wrong.


In the 15 years that have passed since she first stepped foot on Ramsay Street, Libby has become more strong-willed, more opinionated and proved her wisdom, regularly dishing out advice to her students, a role previously played by her mother. Still butting heads with her father for his stubbornness, albeit now more light-hearted as Drew’s death and Susan’s MS diagnosis brought them closer together. Libby continues to be her mother’s rock, being the one to listen and support her when her illness is at its worst, as Susan continues to do for her with her relationship woes, particularly with brothers, Daniel & Lucas Fitzgerald, this time with the added support of best friend, Steph Scully, who despite a recent brief fallout over Steph’s involvement with a married man, she remains inseparable from. Libby has finally found love again with new husband Dan, but her stubbornness remains as she was determined to continue with another pregnancy, despite her nearly dying previously. Unfortunately though, Libby & Dan were forced to say goodbye to their daughter, Grace as Libby suffered a miscarriage and face their biggest trial as they come to terms with Libby’s hysterectomy, but no doubt Susan will continue to be at Libby’s side to lend a hand.

Doctor’s wife, Susan Kennedy arrived in Erinsborough in 1994 after her husband, Karl, bought 28 Ramsay Street without her knowledge. Having previously lived in the country, it took some getting used to, but Susan quickly found herself an integral part of the community. Initially her greatest dramas were whether or not she should be allowed to continue giving piano lessons; however Susan really began to shine when Karl raised the issue of having another baby. With her children now older, Susan was enjoying having her life back and planned to return to teaching, which caused further upset at her Mal, Libby & Billy hated the idea of their mum teaching at their school, but as she became a hit with the students, soon came around to the idea. Before long, Mrs K joined Mrs D, Helen Daniels as one of Ramsay Street’s resident counsellors. Whilst she had a strong, independent nature, Susan was often at her best when with her husband, who despite their differing views, often saw the funny side of their petty arguments and the pair certainly enjoyed the making up, working their way around various Erinsborough locations and Ramsay Street houses! Despite this, Susan was left broken-hearted to learn of Karl’s affair with Sarah Beaumont and as she took her anger out on Karl’s cheek, the shockwaves could still be felt in the other side of the World months later.


15 years on, whilst many Kennedys have come and gone and come back again, Susan still remains at 28 Ramsay Street having been remarried, divorced, married, widowed and remarried again with various name changes to go with it, but Susan is now back to being a Kennedy again and rightfully so. Her children may have all grown up and flown the coop and in Libby’s case come back again, but she still has step-son, Zeke and lodger, Ringo to practice her mothering skills on, as well as grandson, Ben to babysit. Over the years, Susan has taken in various teens, but the one who has left the lasting impression, has to be Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi, who has stood by her through good times & bad, especially in the absence of her “rock”, Libby and considers Susan to be his second mum. Susan has faced many challenges over the years, a bout of amnesia, Karl leaving her, Karl’s relationship with Izzy Hoyland and him fathering her child, Holly – which still causes Susan much grief and the loss of her husband, Alex. Her greatest challenge, however, has been her MS diagnosis. As someone who is usually the strong matriarch that everyone turns to, Susan finds very difficult to share with her family & friends, but despite this, she controls her illness, it is very much a part of her life, but she hasn’t let it become her life or define her, which is exactly why we love Susan Kennedy as much today as we did when the first glimmer of that strength of character began to show.

During his initial brief appearance in 1988, used car salesman Lou Carpenter had two goals – to make money and to win back the heart of Madge Ramsay. By the time he returned in 1992, Madge was single again, following the sudden disappearance of husband Harold, and Lou swooped in. With a positive attitude to life and a laugh ripped off from Sid James, Lou immediately became one of Erinsborough’s biggest characters, easily moving between dramas with his son, Guy, and more lighthearted stories such as his trip to a nudist resort with Madge, so it was no surprise that he survived when Madge opted to leave Ramsay Street later in 1992.


Now the longest-running Neighbours character, Lou has been through a lot since he put down permanent roots in Ramsay Street back in 1992. He may have lost Madge, but various other woman have caught his eye since, including the formidable Cheryl, the unforgettable Valda, and the slightly odd Trixie. He’s survived numerous stepchildren, being shot, a long-lost daughter, a kidney donation and a painkiller addiction, not to mention a stint as Mayor of Erinsborough, and is now reduced to helping out at Harold’s Store, when he’s not gallavanting around the world visiting friends and family, but his old moneymaking instinct is still there. He’s struggled to find his place in Ramsay Street since the departure of good friend and sparring partner Harold, but can still be relied on for some comic relief. Just the sound of his trademark laugh is enough to cheer anyone up.

Uptight Karl made himself few friends when he first set foot in Ramsay Street, with his patronising treatment of Danni Stark when her piercing became infected, and the overprotectiveness and family meetings he subjected his family to. Unlike wife Susan, whose teaching and work at the Coffee Shop allowed her to become something of a counsellor to lost souls, Karl didn’t make friends in the street quite so easily, but was still cleverly integrated in by putting him in charge of the medical centre, meaning many characters had little choice but to interact with him. Though he struggled to fit in with the younger residents, Karl really came alive in scenes with Susan, even in their very early episodes the chemistry and comic timing between Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne was clear. Although the marriage seemed to be rock solid, cracks were already beginning to show, just over a year after their arrival, when Karl shared a kiss with dying patient Kate Cornwall, while Susan was away in Kenya – a theme of infidelity that would recur throughout the years.


He’s mellowed – a little – over the years, with his more with his overprotective streak only rearing its head occassionally. But Dr Karl has become something of a legend for a variety of reasons – not least, his roving eye and liaisons with other women, including Sarah Beaumont and Izzy Hoyland. But despite his difficulty keeping it zipped, there’s never been any doubt that he belonged with Susan and even though he broke her heart (more than once), it's a sign of his popularity that the fans were still eager for the Kennedys to reunite after their 2004 divorce. Slipping easily between comedy and drama, the Kennedys are just as much at the centre of the action as they were when they arrived 15 years ago, in no small part thanks to Karl and his skinflint ways and unfulfilled musical ambitions.

During his initial appearances in 1995 and 1996, few could have envisaged what a long-running character Jarrod Rebecchi would become, never mind that he’d one day have survived two weddings and become a lawyer with an adopted son. But, early on, Toadie was still an interesting character, intended as some light relief from the typical teenagers and their dramas about their love lives. Early stories saw him and partner in crime Billy Kennedy causing chaos by running an illegal pirate radio station and stealing other people’s school lunches due to his problem with overeating, but there was a sign of things to come when he was told that he had the IQ of a genius. It took a while, but eventually he put that brain to good use.


Though he hasn't completely lost his funloving edge, Toadie has settled down a lot over the years to become one of Ramsay Street's most reliable residents. Indeed, he was given the honour of taking over the Ramsay Street History book when Harold Bishop recently left town, and his status as a lawyer means that he's frequently called upon to help out friends and neighbours in a crisis. Having barely had a sniff of love in his first few years living in Erinsborough, Toadie's also made up for that in recent years, and his ability to pull himself back together after having his heart broken, or his wife stolen away in a freak accident, has only made the character more endearing. In 2008, Toadie, lonely after splitting up from Steph, even managed to find himself a mini-me when he took on the care of 10-year-old Callum Jones, whose grandmother was seriously ill. Callum has been a breathe of fresh air for Toadie, as he approaches his 15th year with Neighbours, and we can only hope that he'll provide new stories for him for 15 years to come.

Born and raised on Ramsay Street, we’ve been watching Paul’s life unfold ever since Neighbours began in March 1985. Back then he was a young man just finding his way in the world; although studying an engineering degree, his heart wasn’t really in it. It seems strange to think that the determined person we see these days was seriously lacking career direction. It wasn’t long before Paul’s adventurous and head strong streaks emerged as he quit university for a job as a flight attendant; much to the concern of his father Jim. This recklessness continued with a whirlwind romance with Terry Inglis and within weeks they were married. Paul’s carefree lifestyle may have upset his friends and family, but we viewers couldn’t wait to see what he’d do next. Sadly his first marriage ended in tragedy when Terry, having already murdered someone, shot Paul and left him for dead. This experience changed Paul’s character forever; he was left bitter and less trusting of people, and it also caused him to concentrate on a new career in business management with the intention to get very rich. This quest for cash may not seem like a likeable attribute, but it was the making of Paul’s character – the media dubbed him Neighbours answer to Dallas’ J.R. Ewing. Becoming manager, later owner, of Lassiter’s Hotel and forming his own Robinson Corporation put Paul at the forefront of many great storylines, including his faux marriage to assistant manager Gail Lewis, which went on to become a very real love which ended far too soon due to Paul’s workaholic nature. Although Paul did often put business first, it was always his love for his family that saved his character from being two dimensional and made him so interesting to watch.


Having run away to Brazil after uncharacteristically committing fraud in 1993, Paul returned to Erinsborough at the tail end of 2004. It would seem he was set to behave less and less like the Paul we’d seen in the ‘80s as over the next two and a half years dastardly PantoPaul would reign over Ramsay Street like a maniacal tyrant. His motives were often incomprehensible, the plots sometimes risible and the fact he seemed to get away with so much had us all scratching our heads, but all that said, Paul Robinson between late 2004 and mid 2007 was always entertaining. As things got ever more over the top, producers decided enough was enough and that it was time to wave goodbye to Mr Robinson, however, the ingenious idea of a brain tumour was employed by the writers to restore Paul back to normality and excuse his years of misdemeanours as symptoms of ill health. Although not everyone’s comfortable with the idea of an arsonist/murderer getting off scot-free, it was great to have the old Paul back for a while. Sadly he’s slipped back into bad boy antics by cheating on his girlfriend Rebecca and using his position as a newspaper editor to feather his own nest, but he’s still a joy to watch, and his naughtiness isn’t nearly as villainous as it was mid decade. Paul’s relationship with daughter Elle is probably the most satisfying aspect of his recent years; on the rare occasions when they display a genuine father/daughter bond the Robinson family reigns once more.