Neighbours’ Sonya Rebecchi has been through an awful lot over the last few months. Not only has she lost the surrogate child she was carrying for best friend Mark Brennan, but she’s also had to cope with husband Toadie’s deceased first wife, Dee Bliss, returning from the dead.
But in true soap fashion, the drama didn’t end there, as it was revealed the recently resurrected Dee was actually a con woman called Andrea Somers - something that she and Toadie didn’t discover until after Sonya had accidently watched them cheat on Skype.
The chain of events tore apart one of Ramsay Street’s most loved couples, and brought Sonya’s addiction issues back to the fore, and she recently found herself in court, after drunkenly driving a trailer into the Erinsborough Backpackers, seriously injuring two residents in the process.
So what’s next for Sonya? We caught up with actress Eve Morey to find out whether her character will ever get back with Toadie, and if that really is the last ‘Neighbours’ fans have seen of Andrea Somers...
Things are finally starting to look up for Sonya after the court case - are we beginning to see her get life back on track?
Yes, definitely. Calum coming back was the catalyst. If anyone was going to make her see sense, it was him. Also, having a verdict come in from someone else to say ‘ you did screw up, but this will be your punishment - you don’t need any more than that’. But there also are consequences in the sense that she has got community service and has to do her time.
Why did she reject Toadie after the verdict despite telling him she loved him before she went into court?
She truly believed she was going to jail. She is completely in love with Jarrod - she always has been and I think she always will be. That was a genuine moment of her wanting him to know that, but having said that, in the real world when she gets the verdict, she knows she has a lot of stuff to work through. She wasn’t trying to screw him around, but she was just being honest about where her head is at.
How long are viewers going to have to wait to see them back together?
From this point, it’s about them healing and coming back together. Whether that’s them coming together in a romantic sense or finding a way to co-parent, but from here, it’s not about blame, but about being constructive.
Although Toadie and Sonya had their ups and downs, they’d always been quite solid - were you upset when you were told they were being broken up?
Yeah, I was pretty upset. I always go and ask what my storylines are going to be, just so I can have an idea about what’s going to happen. I actually had a lot of anxiety about it leading up to that storyline as I really didn’t want to do the surrogacy. Not in a petulant way, but I noticed that I actually had a reaction to it. It’s like you know you’re about to go through trauma before it’s happened. Even though it’s not real, your body doesn’t know the difference, so it was worrying. But I have to say I’ve enjoyed the storyline more than I thought I would.
Now that Toadie’s cheated, do you worry they’ll become like Karl and Susan and be constantly splitting and then getting back together?
Definitely. I have so much respect for Karl and Susan and their relationship, but I do want it to be different from that. I look at Karl and I think he didn’t deal with his shit the first time when he cheated, so he did it again. So I would hope with how we’re unpacking this story, that doesn’t happen again for us.
What did you first think when you heard about the Dee return storyline?
Initially they were like ‘we’re bringing Madeline [West, who played Dee] back’, and I was like, ‘oh god, this is not going to be good’. They wanted Toadie and Sonya to break up and go through growth and they actually asked us how they thought it could happen. They wouldn’t break up normally, so there had to be a crazy set of circumstances. It was the combination of the surrogacy and Dee/Andrea that tore them apart - maybe they could have got through one without the other.
It was my fear too that it would become about two women fighting over a man, but it became so much more than that. Then when we were told it was a doppelganger, we were like ‘WHAT?!’. The real Dee would have wanted the best for Toadie and not been so self-serving, because that’s who she was. It made sense it would be someone who had an ulterior motive.
Were you expecting the crazy reaction it got from fans?
We knew people were going to respond to it, but I didn’t realise it would be that huge. Obviously, you’re in a studio filming out in the middle of nowhere in Melbourne, so it was interesting to see how it impacted people.
I remember watching Dee’s death and it was iconic, and that’s what’s exciting about a show that’s been on this long, that characters can come back. It’s very nostalgic and it taps into people’s childhoods.
There’s rumours Madeline West could be returning as Andrea Somers - possibly pregnant. How do you think this would affect Sonya if she is to forgive Toadie?
It would definitely be so challenging, but Sonya would be able to look at the situation and be able to say it’s not that child’s fault. It would be something we have to take on, so we’d just have to find a way to make it work.
So has Madeline been back on set lately then?
Well, I can just say I don’t think this storyline is finished yet. There’s more to it. There’s so much gold in it, even if Toadie and Sonya got back together. I don’t think it would threaten us, but I think it would unite us as a team.
Where do you think the real Dee is? Is she dead?
I would say she is dead, but you never know. The biggest reaction we got was people really caring that this wasn’t the real Dee - they wanted it to be her. I’ve said to Ryan, wouldn’t it be funny if they were both on the Street at the same time. He said, ‘Don’t say it, otherwise they’ll write it!’ It wouldn’t surprise me if that happened!
You’ve announced you’re pregnant with your second child - is it being written into your storylines?
When our producer was telling me about upcoming storylines, I wasn’t 12 weeks but I had to tell him I was pregnant. He was like, ‘oh, that’s great! We can make it work!’, and then they thought that maybe Sonya could be pregnant too, but then realised she hadn’t slept with anyone. But no, we’re going to hide it.
Do you know how you are going to be written out yet?
I think it will be relatively low key, because Sonya always has Callum to go and see. Last time, they chilled my storylines out towards the end of my pregnancy, so it would be great if it could be a nice exit again, rather than a tragedy.
While Sonya’s addiction issues have been mentioned many times before, this was the first time we’d seen it on screen - was it difficult to take such a well-loved character to such a dark place?
I wanted to do it justice because it is a very real problem for people, but you have to do within the confines of a certain rating we have in Australia and the conventions of it being a soap opera, so the challenge is finding the truth of it. Technically, how to play drunk was hard to make work, because you can’t be seen to be drinking the actually wine, but then you have to be drunk.
They showed a clip on ‘The Wright Stuff’ I hadn’t seen before. I only watched up to when Toadie and Sonya broke up because I was so traumatised, but it was very sad.
We’ve seen the Rebecchi family expand recently - how have the new additions fitted in?
I love having more families on the show. It makes it so much more interesting and multidimensional to see how they interact with each other. It’s funny to see Toadie with his brother too. I haven’t had much to do with them yet, but hopefully I will in time. I love Angie [Toadie’s mum] too, and I’m hoping she comes in more now that she has more family.
You’re also married to former ‘Neighbours’ star Jonathan Dutton, who played Toadie’s cousin Tad Reeves - would he ever return?
I don’t think so. He’s come back and done a block of directing again recently but no. I wouldn’t be able to keep myself together. Any time they mention Tad, I try to have a subtle look, but they usually cut it out.
Would you find it odd acting opposite your husband?
It would probably be weird to see him act. Directing, it was really lovely actually. I fell in love with him all over again and remembered all those things I was drawn to and attracted to in the first place. When I first started liking him, I YouTube-stalked him a bit and watched the old episodes. He was a wonderful actor and very accessible as a young man.
Fans have been calling for Mark and Steph to get back together - is that something you can see happening, or do you think there’s too much water under the bridge?
I always found them a weird pairing, so when I had to get to point where I was like, ‘I’ll be a surrogate for you, even though you’ve only been together a short amount of time’, I found it a bit of a stretch. I think they’re better off as friends because ultimately they’re on different journeys and want different things. I think it’s better off the way it is now.
Sonya was originally very wary of Steph - is it nice for her to actually have a good female friend on the Street now, or do you prefer how it used to be?
I much prefer it this way, and the welcome surprise of this storyline has been how close they’ve gotten and they have this relationship outside of Jarrod. I was always a bit uncomfortable with that stuff at the beginning, and I think this more evolved relationship is much more interesting. It’s nice to see female characters who are friends, and they have so much in common.
Why do you think Neighbours still holds such a place in the UK’s heart?
It’s down to earth and its humour. It does do some pretty big things, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also has storylines for all different age groups on it, so it can be relevant to a lot of different people. Some actors have been on it for such a long time that there’s also an element of comfort for people.
Would you like to stay on the show as long as the likes of Susan, Karl and Toadie?
Well yeah! I’ve already been there eight-going-on-nine years, and at this point, I have no intention of leaving - that’s if they still want to employ me! I still really enjoy it. It’s also like we have this loyalty to Sonya and Toadie to see it through.
Were the cast surprised by the uproar in the press when it was reported the show could be leaving our screens in the UK?
It’s really lovely because in Australia, it doesn’t have the same loyalty it does here. It has some kind of audience, but there’s not that same rallying behind it and the appreciation for what it is.
I don’t think what it means in the industry - with the amount of people it employs and the training ground it provides - is necessarily valued as much as it is here, so it’s always really lovely to feel like the work you do is appreciated and has a place. You guys appreciate the genre for what it is, whereas in Australia, it’s compared to other longform drama, and you just can’t because they’re two completely different beasts.
You obviously shoot quite far in advance - can you give us any clues as to what you’re filming at the moment?
There’s Terese’s breast cancer, there’s a wedding coming up, there’s Jarrod and Sonya unpacking a few things and delving into his history, which is really interesting. There’s some crazy stuff happening with Karl, some really funny community stuff.
Finally, who would be your dream Neighbour?
I’d like to see someone like the dude who plays Remmy on ‘House Of Cards’ and see what they have to offer.
′Neighbours’ airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.