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The Hancock family decide to start a new life away from Ramsay Street…
The past month has been hell for Ramsay Street’s Hancock family. Parents Maggie and Evan have been battling to keep their marriage alive while son Matt waits to go on trial for his part in a car accident. This fortnight, in the show’s landmark 4000th episode, the fate of the household will be decided.
According to Stephen Hunt, who plays Matt, viewers can expect tears as the family leave Erinsborough for good.
“It’s not exactly a happy ending – things are still going to be pretty tough,” he says. “But after everything they’ve been through, you get the feeling life can’t get much worse."
The family’s exit comes as Matt finds the charges against him for his involvement in the car accident reduced – with the help of a very expensive barrister.
“The barrister manages to talk Matt’s part down, which means he probably won’t go to jail,” Stephen explains. “But his court date is still four months away, and the family have to keep paying the barrister – which puts them under even more financial pressure.”
With the Hancock house sold to Mal Kennedy to fund legal fees, Evan and Maggie must decide where the family will go. But before they do, there’s another matter to be addressed – the state of Evan and Maggie’s marriage. Evan recently discovered that Maggie and their neighbour Toady Rebecchi, were more than friends, and now it’s up to Maggie to decide whether she is still fully committed to her husband.
“Toady was the one who started it, but there was some doubt whether Maggie had feelings for him too,” Stephen says. “So while Evan and Maggie are united for Matt’s sake, there’s a lot of unresolved tension.”
In true Neighbours style, the matter is resolved in a touching family scene.
“It’s very emotional – Matt thanks Evan for standing by him, and Evan says he will always be there for him. Maggie sees this and decides her marriage is worth saving, so she convinces Evan to try again.”
Soon the Hancock family are saying goodbye to their neighbours, bound for a new life – and the family’s exit was tinged with sadness both on screen and off.
“The producers decided to write the whole family out, which we were all unhappy about,” Stephen says. “It was disappointing for me because I thought there was so much more they could do with my character. But they turned him into the loser of the street.”
In a bid to turn his fortunes around, Stephen suggested a storyline where Matt goes to swim the English Channel. But when the idea was rejected, the actor decided to go ahead with the swim anyway!
“Home And Away had a UK episode, and I thought it would be good for Neighbours too,” he explains. “But they didn’t agree, so I decided I would still do the swim and raise money for AIDS charities instead. It should go ahead around June or July, so between now and then I’ll be spending most of my time in the pool.”
This article originally appeared in Inside Soap magazine, dated June 2002, and was written by Jason Herbison