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Features > Mind The Gap by Mark and Steve

The last decade has seen many old faces return to Erinsborough, some of them after a very long time away from Ramsay Street. With Neighbours marking 9000 episodes and its 39th birthday this month, and The Perfect Blend recently celebrating 21 years online, we take a look at the 21 actors with the biggest gaps between appearances as the same character.

1. Peter O'Brien (Shane Ramsay) - 8451 episodes
Topping the list is Peter O'Brien as Shane Ramsay, one of many old faces who returned in 2022, when it looked like Neighbours was ending for good. Peter was one of the original Neighbours cast and, having last appeared as Shane in 1987, he returned for a few episodes, allowing the writers to give him a slightly more substantial story, with Shane getting involved with Izzy Hoyland and almost becoming the new owner of Lassiters hotel.

2. Kylie Minogue (Charlene Mitchell/Robinson) - 8125 episodes
Next on the list is another face from the 80s who came back for the 2022 "finale" - Kylie Minogue. The returns of Kylie and her on-screen husband Jason Donovan were very well-publicised ahead of the episodes airing, though slightly underwhelming when they actually happened, with Charlene particularly having very few lines and adding little to the episode. As Charlene had left in 1988, almost a year before on-screen husband Scott, Kylie is in second place on our list.

3. Jason Donovan (Scott Robinson) - 7938 episodes
Which brings us to Jason Donovan, who'd appeared in his last episode as Scott in 1989. Jason's appearance came only a few weeks after his daughter, Jemma Donovan, had made her final appearance as Harlow, Paul's granddaughter and Scott's great niece. Since Neighbours returned in 2023, both Kylie and Jason have made it clear that they won't be going back again, so although it was brief, we may have to make the most of this appearance from Scott and Charlene, as it doesn't look like it's ever happen again.

4. Guy Pearce (Mike Young) - 7792 episodes
In fourth place is another 2022 returnee, Guy Pearce, who had last appeared as Mike Young at the end of 1989. Guy returned as Mike for the final few days, with his reunion with Annie Jones as Jane proving to be one of the highlights of those celebratory episodes. With Neighbours then returning the following year, Guy has been filming occasional appearances to allow Mike and Jane's relationship to continue a little longer, at least until the writers work out how they're going to split them up.

5. Jessica Muschamp (Sharon Davies) - 7683 episodes
Completing the top 5 is someone else who made a (very brief) return in those 'final' 2022 episodes - Jessica Muschamp. Sharon popped up in a video message to congratulate Toadie and Melanie on their wedding day and, like Guy Pearce, went on to make a few appearances when Neighbours was revived the following year. Unlike Guy, however, Jessica actually turned up in Erinsborough, as Sharon arrived to try and track down the missing Melanie.

6. Jade Amenta (Melissa Jarrett) - 7540 episodes
One of several old faces who came back for a story in December 2023 that saw protests break out over the planned closure of Erinsborough High, Melissa hadn't been seen since 1991. Although she only appeared in a few scenes, there was still time for her to catch up with old friend Melanie Pearson and to update the viewers on what she was up to these days - married to her old flame Josh Anderson, after the pair had reunited over the deaths of their friends Todd and Cody in the 90s.

7. Jenny Young (Kim Taylor/Tanaka) - 7506 episodes
Just 34 episodes behind Melissa comes the first guest character on our list: Kim Taylor. A year after the arrivals of twins David and Leo Tanaka came the retcon-tastic news that their mum was Kim, the schoolgirl Scott Robinson had briefly dated back in 1985 - and their father was Paul. There'd been no hint that anything was going on between Kim and Paul back then, but she'd apparently been pregnant with his babies when she left, and she then turned up in Erinsborough over 30 years later to explain herself.

8. Richard Huggett (Glen Donnelly) - 7121 episodes
In 2021, one of Neighbours' last remaining mysteries was the whereabouts of Glen Donnelly, Paul Robinson's paralysed half-brother who'd disappeared with his money, apparently never to be seen again. Nearly 30 years later, he reappeared, having regained the use of his legs and holding a lot of resentment towards Paul for the way his life had turned out. Glen remained part of the cast until Neighbours went off-air in mid-2022, but did not come back when we returned to Ramsay Street the following year.

9. Natalie Imbruglia (Beth Brennan/Willis) - 6675 episodes
Another 2022 returnee was Natalie Imbruglia, who'd made her last appearance on screen as Beth in 1994, when she returned for baby Zac's naming day a few months after marrying Brad and leaving town. Beth made a surprise return in the episode, after bumping into another Ramsay Street escapee, Flick Scully (Holly Valance). Beth and Flick bonded over a video of Karl Kennedy and sent a joint message to newlyweds Toadie and Melanie.

10. Beth Buchanan (Gemma Ramsay/Willis) - 6607 episodes
Following Beth on our list is another of Pam and Doug Willis's daughters-in-law, Gemma. When Roxy Willis, the daughter of early 90s characters Adam Willis and Gemma Ramsay, turned up in 2019, it wasn't long before Gemma arrived too. Gemma would go on to make a few more appearances over the three years that followed, making a final visit just as Roxy and husband Kyle were planning to leave Erinsborough for a new life up in Darwin.

11. Gillian Blakeney (Caroline Alessi) - 6508 episodes
The first of the Alessi twins to leave, Caroline moved to Italy in shame, after sharing a kiss with brother-in-law Paul Robinson. This meant that, when the Alessi sisters returned at the same time, Gillian Blakeney had been gone for 61 more episodes than twin Christina. Caroline and Christina turned up in 2019, during a story that saw Paul's daughter, Elle, plotting to get all of her father's ex-wives to prevent him from marrying Terese Willis. The plan failed, and the Alessi sisters were witnesses at Paul and Terese's wedding.

12. Geoff Paine (Clive Gibbons) - 6475 episodes
Slotting in between Caroline and Christina is Clive Gibbons, famous for his gorilla suit and using a biro to perform a tracheotomy on a young Lucy Robinson. Clive turned up again in 2017 as the new COO of Erinsborough Hospital, becoming a regular guest character. He found himself in relationships with both Sheila Canning and Jane Harris before everything went wrong and he left for Los Angeles to visit Sheila, making his final appearance in July 2022.

13. Gayle Blakeney (Christina Alessi/Robinson) - 6447 episodes
Caroline's twin, Christina, left three months after her sister, moving to Hawaii with husband Paul after repairing their marriage and renewing their vows. Paul and Christina's son, Andrew, was part of the cast between 2009 and 2013, but Christina herself didn't appear on screen again until 2019, as part of Elle's plot to stop Terese from marrying Paul. The three episodes featuring Caroline and Christina also saw the twins repair their own relationship after years of things being strained between them.

14. Alan Hopgood (Jack Lassiter) - 6431 episodes
The quirky original owner of Lassiters hotel, Jack made a surprise return in 2013, having last appeared all the way back in 1986. The Lassiters empire had grown considerably in the 27 years he'd been away, and Jack's story saw him giving away his fortune in a series of treasure hunts and making Paul realise how lonely and selfish he'd become. A few weeks after Jack left Erinsborough for the second time, word came through that his brain aneurysm, the reason for his trip down memory lane, had killed him.

15. Kate Gorman (Sue Parker) - 6429 episodes
The original Erinsborough High bad girl, the years had done nothing to soften Sue Parker when she turned up again 27 years later. Returning as an Erinsborough councillor and feuding with Paul Robinson, it wasn't too long before she was in bigger trouble than ever before, finding herself in prison for six months. Her most recent return in 2023 saw her turn up at Erinsborough High on the day of a protest over the school's planned closure.

16. Alan Dale (Jim Robinson) - 6098 episodes
Original Neighbours character Jim Robinson died in 1993, but made a surprise reapperance 25 years later. Having been led to believe that he'd killed a man named Mannix, Jim's son Paul was having a very bad Christmas and ended up knocking himself out in a car accident and hallucinating his father's ghost in a bauble. The ghost of Jim was very unimpressed with Paul's bad behaviour, and Paul would go on to have similar dreams, before Dr Beverly, who'd once been married to Jim, suggested that Paul's guilt over not being in Erinsborough when his dad died might be behind these recurring visions.

17. Lawrence Mah (Mr Toshiro Udagawa) - 5916 episodes
As major investors in the Robinson Corporation and Lassiters hotel, the Udagawas played a small but significant role in the 1980s, as Paul and Gail ended up getting married to show Mr Udagawa that they were part of a respectable family business. Following further appearances in 1989 and 1992, Mr Udagawa was back in Erinsborough in 2017. As well as investing in the hotel again, Mr Udagawa was caught up in other dramas, when he was wrongly suspected of being the long-lost father of David and Leo Tanaka.

18. Bruce Samazan (Mark Gottlieb) - 5779 episodes
Chef, turned religious fanatic and almost priest, and back to the cooking, Mark Gottlieb had quite an unusual two years in Erinsborough, before leaving to become a TV chef. His return came as part of the 35th anniversary, where he arrived to cater the wedding festival at Lassiters and ran into old flame Lucy Robinson. Before long, Mark and Lucy were married and are now living in New York, where he has a restaurant.

19. Paul Keane (Des Clarke) - 5773 episodes
Another of the original cast, Paul Keane left in 1990, and his post-Neighbours problems were well-documented, so it was a joy to see him make a return as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations in 2015. Although Des only paid a quick visit to old friend Paul Robinson on that occasion, he would go on to make a few more appearances in the seven years that followed, including an ill-advised wedding to Jane Harris during the 35th anniversary and a return as part of what were believed to be the final episodes in 2022.

20. Gary Files (Tom Ramsay) - 5723 episodes
Brother to Max and Madge, Tom Ramsay first appeared when actor Francis Bell, who played Max, left the cast suddenly and a replacement was needed. Tom wasn't around for long, but did make a return appearance in 1990, when his daughter Gemma, who'd been living with Madge in Erinsborough, was involved in a motorbike accident. 24 years later, he made another short appearance when Daniel Robinson, the son of Tom's niece Charlene, was marrying Amber Turner.

21. Andrew Williams (Guy Carpenter) - 5428 episodes
The son of Lou Carpenter, Guy turned up on Ramsay Street to stay with Lou's sister, Brenda. Like Tom Ramsay, Guy wasn't around for long, and didn't exactly set the screen alight, but he was brought back for a brief appearance during the 30th anniversary, as one of Daniel and Amber's relatives. Guy's 2015 appearance marked the only episode in which Lou, Guy and Guy's sister, Lauren, had all appeared together.