Soap weddings never run smoothly, and Neighbours’ latest set of nuptials looks set to be no different, as Terese Willis struggles to hide her feelings for Paul Robinson, despite getting ready to marry Gary Canning.
Two characters affected by the fall-out from the big day will be Terese’s daughter Piper and step-daughter Paige, and with the actresses who play them currently in London, HuffPost UK caught up with Mavournee Hazel and Olympia Valance to get the lowdown.
The pair also opened up about what the future holds for their own characters, teased an epic end-of-year finale, and revealed the backstage secret that means the sun is always shining in Erinsborough.
We’re about to see Terese and Gary’s wedding which you’re both quite central in, but not everything is going to run to plan, is it?
Olympia: No, we all know what Terese has done with Paul, so we can assume something around that unfolds at the wedding. Paige was a part of knowing all of that and that backfires a little bit.
Mavournee: Piper has no idea. She literally finds out on the day. So she’s completely in the dark.
O: So we have a little tiff, but it’s about so much more than that.
A lot of fans want to see Terese and Paul together - who do you think she should be with?
O: We were talking about this and I think she works with both of them in different ways - it just depends whether you want the good boy or the bad boy.
M: Gary and Terese are so sweet and kind. He loves her and would do anything for her, and that’s just hot.
O: But then there’s Paul and they are both business-y, on the same level and there’s chemistry between them. And you can see in real life how Gary might be a bit annoying. I know for me, that would really irritate me.
M: Even with the cancer storyline, he kept saying he was there for Terese, but Paul just got it. There’s just an ease with them.
Do you think Gary could ever forgive Terese if he finds out about her and Paul?
M: With the Canning girls in his ear, maybe not.
O: There’s a bit of a war between the Cannings and the Willises. It is a bit of a standoff between the families.
Piper is involved in the storyline involving Tyler’s real dad, and she’s already got her suspicions about him - could this be his undoing?
M: At the moment, any suspicion she does have about Hamish she is keeping to herself and giving him the benefit of the doubt for Tyler’s sake.
He has just got her real dad in his life and doesn’t want anything to jeopardise that. He’s driving a wedge between Tyler and his brothers and everyone in his life. I think Piper being the closest person in his life, she would be the last straw.
I know Travis Burns [who plays Tyler] has teased there’s going to be some quite emotional scenes coming up - what can you tell us about them?
M: Travis was really invested in this being one of his biggest storylines to date and his first big emotional crying scenes. It has a lasting impact on him and the community, because it is not just Tyler he’s blindsided. He’s lied to and hurt a lot of people. He’s close with Sheila and Amy and there’s a lot of empty promises.
Are you surprised at the amount of support Tyler and Piper have received?
M: Absolutely. Travis and I are the biggest Typer fans and we love it. We’re really good friends and a really big part of our on-screen chemistry is because we genuinely like each other. It was hard to win everyone around when they first got together. Younger girls loved it because they thought maybe they had a shot with Travis, but older people...
They are quite different as characters - do you think they are well suited?
M: On paper, as a couple, I feel like Piper would go for a really intellectual guy. But there’s this soulmate thing and the foundation of their relationship is friendship.
What’s it like having Travis’s fianceé [Emma Lane, why plays Courtney] on set when you have to be all romantic?
M: It is a bit funny when she’s right there, but it’s fine. We’re really good friends and the three of us have a good relationship and I’m going to their wedding.
Emma trusts me and it’s a very safe environment we work in. She’s an actor as well, which helps.
O: It’s always a bit funny when you’re dating someone who isn’t an actor. They don’t understand there’s like 30 other crew stood around watching you.
Olympia, you’re in your own love triangle at the moment with Elly and Mark - who do you think he should be with?
O: Mark and Paige should be together. They should have been together a long time ago. Elly is Paige’s best friend, and I was thinking about this in real life, and you would never ask your best friend if you could go out with her ex-fiancé. It’s just bad form.
But they didn’t work out last time - could this be the reason why they may not work this time?
O: The reason why they didn’t work was because she didn’t want kids, but now she has a child. Paige was immature and he wasn’t, but now she’s ready to settle down and they’re on the same page now.
What about Paige’s feeling for Jack - could they ever reunite?
O: Nothing is ever off the table. He’s the father of Paige’s child. Who knows?
What is it with Steph getting with all of Paige’s exes?
O: She can have my sloppy seconds!
What was your reaction when they first told you Paige was going to have a baby?
O: My first reaction was ‘what a great storyline’, but then as it unfolded, I realised that I would have a child for the rest of my time on the show, and I didn’t know what that was going to be like. I loved being ‘pregnant’ and the clothes. I rocked that tummy!
How are you finding being an on-screen mum?
O: He is gorgeous. He is the most beautiful child ever. He is always smiling and giggling. But now he is getting older, he’s getting cheekier and if he doesn’t want to be there, he knows he can cry. The word ‘action’ is a trigger word for him - he doesn’t like it and starts crying, which can be a bit of a problem. So now we’ve got all these other words for it.
Is it making you broody?
O: No, I’m happy being child-free, young and single.
The other big mystery at the moment is whether real Dee is still alive - do you know anything about that or what’s going to happen there?
M: Genuinely, no idea. We are the last ones to even find out our own storylines.
O: We get the scripts at the very last minute, and even if there is stuff we want to change, it’s really hard, because everyone has had it before that.
M: It’s like ships passing in the night at work too. She could have been at work filming and we had no idea. We’re all in the same green room, but we have no idea what anyone else is doing. We’re not chatting about the show.
Is there anything either of you have ever said no to doing?
O: Yeah, Paige had just had unprotected sex with the priest and got pregnant, then my next couple of scenes were supposed to be her having sex with someone else. I said that I wasn’t doing that, especially as I have a lot of young fans. She’d already been pretty irresponsible.
It’s a huge thing to happen to a young girl, so to go and sleep with someone else when you’ve just found out you’re pregnant is a bit of a no-no.
M: Piper is 17, so there’s no risqué storylines, and I’m in a long-term relationship. There’s something coming up that I had issues with, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
What would be your dream storyline?
M: As I said, I’m a huge Typer shipper, but Piper has made references in the past to being bisexual and I would love for the character to explore that more. But at the moment I am happy working with Travis.
‘Neighbours’ obviously has such a long and rich history - what was your favourite storyline growing up?
O: Everything that revolved around my sister [Holly Candy, neé Valance, who played Felicity Scully]. I was in awe of her. I was the coolest kid at school.
I remember at Steph’s wedding where it came out Flick had been having an affair with the groom. I remember it vividly and how amazing it was.
Which classic character would you love to bring back?
O: It would be cool if Holly came back. I don’t know if she would, but it would be awesome to be in the same green room together.
M: I’m very content with the cast at the moment. We’re like a little family.
Olympia, you’ve talked before about life after ‘Neighbours’ - would you ever like to follow in your sister’s footsteps and launch a pop career?
O: I’m much more of an actor than a singer. I would love to do a bit of work over here. I want to go into one-hour dramas and more gritty things.
I would love to do a period drama over here. It’s a bit of a dream because I’m a huge fan of ‘Penny Dreadful’, ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Peaky Blinders’. Oh my god, Cillian Murphy. I am sick for him. He is so incredibly sexy.
How would you like to see Paige leave?
O: It would be good to go out with a bang, like a death.
Mavournee, can you see yourself sticking around on the Street for years to come, or have you started thinking about what’s next?
M: Definitely both, of course I’m thinking about my future, but right now I’m happy on the show. I feel I’ve got a lot to learn still.
Every storyline I get, I’m loving it more than the last. Sooner or later, I’d love to work here. I love what the UK make and I’d love to be a part of it one day.
Many ‘Neighbours’ stars have gone on to have huge careers like Margot Robbie - is there one of them you’d love to emulate or that inspires you?
O: I don’t think I want to emulate anyone else’s career. Everyone who has left the show has been so unique in their own way. You can’t compare. Even if I wanted to compare myself to Margot Robbie, I can’t - we’d never be cast in the same thing. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned and I look like I’m Mexican.
Why do you think ‘Neighbours’ still holds such a place in the UK’s heart?
M: They’ve grown up with it and it’s nostalgic.
O: It’s always sunny and people are generally exciting.
You say it’s always sunny, but we can tell when it’s actually really cold, as we see your breath on screen!
O: I know!
M: They have to give us ice to make our mouths cold! We have the pool scenes and you can literally see the steam coming off it because it’s like eight degrees. Melbourne is freezing.
O: We almost got frostbite the other day, it was so cold.
M: We have to do it for the UK fans. It always has to be sunny and like it’s summer.
O: There’s something that’s coming up soon, but it was a huge night and we were outside for hours. It was night scene and I have five pairs of clear tights on, and when I took them off, I couldn’t even walk. They were like ice blocks because I was literally wearing nothing. We have to make it look like it’s not cold for you!
You obviously film quite far in advance - can you give us any clues as to what you’re filming at the moment?
O: Some of my favourite scenes I’ve ever done are coming up at the end of the year. They are so action-packed, so dramatic and devastating. Then when we go back into the new year, which is what we’re filming now, you’ve got incredible stuff going on.
M: It’s like stunt, action, hard-core, almost un-‘Neighbours’-y stuff. We’re really pushing what we can do with our rating and our budget. I’m really proud of the show at the moment.
Any new or old faces?
O: Yes, there’s quite a few. That will be fun.
‘Neighbours’ airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.