Following the heartbreaking departure of Amber and Jai Simmons from Home and Away, Patrick O’Connor has spoken about what the future may hold for his character Dean Thompson.
Dean is forced to say farewell to his spouse and their little baby after coming clean about his unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend Ziggy in emotionally charged scenes set to appear on UK screens soon.
Amber has stated that she does not see a future in Summer Bay because Dean does not truly love her and still has hopes of reuniting with Ziggy.
Dean will be separated from Jai as a result of this, shattering his dreams of being a constant presence in his son’s life.
Patrick has finally expressed his feelings about Amber and Jai’s stay in the Bay coming to an end.
“Dean as a father displayed a side of him that no one else has seen throughout his tenure on Home and Away,” he said. Dean has to act like a responsible adult and think about others in this scenario.
“Dean had to remember not to take himself too seriously and to have a little fun, which is what you do when you’re around children.” It’s been a lot of fun to shoot.
“Amber and Jai’s time on the show may have been extended, but it would have been difficult because Jai’s actor, River Jarvis, is still a little child. He enjoyed working, although he must have found it difficult to work as much as he did at the time.
“I wanted them both to stay, but I understand that the authors made their decisions and have the final say in how things are handled.”
“It’s unfortunate that they went, but there’s some exciting stuff to come as a result.”
Amber interrogated Dean about his feelings for Ziggy several times in the weeks leading up to her departure.
Despite Dean’s assurances that she had nothing to be concerned about, Amber kept detecting signals that he preferred to be with Ziggy. Amber eventually lost patience and demanded that Dean tell her the truth.
“It was because of everything those two have been through, and especially now that they’ve got a kid together,” Patrick continued, explaining why Dean was so honest with Amber.
“Dean believes that you must be honest with people in difficult situations. If he’d just made something up, the falsehoods would have been too much, especially after everything they’ve gone through in the previous six months with Ross’s murder and Colby’s arrest.
“Dean was fatigued by not being able to be really honest with everyone.” He was honest with Amber and made that decision when the time came.
“It would be fantastic if River and Maddy [Jevic, who portrays Amber] could return at some time because they’re such a pleasure to work with and we all get along so well.”
“However, I believe River will become a sought-after little performer in Australia as a result of her appearance on Home and Away.” Maddy is also a good actress, so timing could be hard depending on whether or not they want to return!”
Despite Dean’s outspokenness about his affections for Ziggy, he isn’t optimistic that she will abandon her new lover Tane Parata for him.
Even when Dean tells Ziggy the true reason for Amber’s departure, Ziggy and Tane will remain together for the time being.
Patrick corroborated the following: “Dean doesn’t seem to believe he has a shot with Ziggy. He tried everything he could to get her back after they broke up and he discovered she was with Tane. I believe he pursued every route and considered every possibility to reunite with her, but I don’t believe he has much hope left.
“Dean is unable to have much contact with Ziggy at this time, and things will remain as they are. Summer Bay, on the other hand, never says never.
Patrick has a real-life relationship with Sophie Dillman, who plays Ziggy on the show. They knew each other before joining the cast because they went to the same institution, but they only became a couple after starting to work together in 2019.
So, now that things are looking up off-screen, do you think Patrick’s characters will find their way back into each other’s arms one day?
“It’s always interesting to see Dean and Ziggy apart from each other. It’s nice to see them reconnecting as friends, hanging out and attempting to rekindle the bond they had before they started dating.
“It’s also been good because I’ve spent a lot of time with Sophie over the last two years, and she’s spent a lot of time with me. It’s fun to work with a variety of actors.
“I know a lot of fans would like to see Dean and Ziggy reunite, and I’m sure there will be one at some point. But, for the time being, I believe it’s excellent that they’re concentrating on other things.”
Patrick also opened up about his off-screen friendship with Ethan Browne, who plays his hot love rival Tane on the programme, saying that they’re much friendlier in real life.
“Ethan’s a terrific dude – he’s a great guy,” he said with a giggle. To be fair, he’s a six-foot-ten giant, while I’m a small child! But he’s a real down-to-earth person.
“I wish we had a better on-screen relationship because I’d love to work with Ethan.” I’ve had a lot of experience working with Kipa [Rob Kipa-Williams, who plays Ari], but I haven’t had much time with the Parata lads since they’ve joined the programme. Our plots aren’t very intertwined, but they’re all fantastic dudes.”
Dean’s closest friends Colby Thorne (Tim Franklin) and Willow Harris (Sarah Roberts) both left the show in 2021, making it a transition year for him.
After Willow went undercover as ‘Witness X’ and revealed him to the cops, Colby was sentenced to prison for killing his violent stepfather Ross Nixon.
Willow received backlash from her friends as a result of her treachery, but she subsequently had a happier ending when she travelled to Queensland to see her ex-girlfriend Alex Neilson (Zoe Ventoura).
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so saddened in my career as when Tim and Sarah left,” Patrick admitted. I began working on the project with Tim, and at the end, he resembled my brother.
“Tim and I only met this afternoon. I told him how much I missed him because we hadn’t been working together in a long time. ‘You’re going to make me cry!’ I exclaimed.
“We, the three of us, embarked on such an adventure. It’s fortunate that Courtney Miller is still playing Bella because the rest of the family has vanished, but we had a lot of fun.
“We were filming so much in such a short amount of time, and I couldn’t have done it with nicer people.”
When asked if he would have preferred Dean to play Witness X in the big tale, Patrick said, “It would have been fun to play Dean in that circumstance, but loyalty is definitely Dean’s number one rule. I don’t think Dean would cooperate with the cops after keeping the secret of Ross’s murder for all those years.
“Before throwing Colby under the bus, I believe Dean would have confessed to the crime.”
Some fans of Home and Away still believe that Colby will return one day, thanks to Dean breaking him out of prison.
Patrick laughed as he addressed Colby’s possibilities of escaping: “That would be fantastic! Several folks have inquired as to what I intend to do when Dean departs.
“I’m undecided about whether I want Dean to die or do something more romantic. But I think a prison break for Colby would be fun. That’s something I’d like to pitch to the writers!”
Dean joined Home and Away at the beginning of 2018 and has quickly established himself as one of the show’s most beloved characters.
We asked Patrick about his own future away from the Bay, as the long-running soap is noted for its rotating door of younger characters arriving and exiting.
“I’ve been on the show for three and a half years now, and I probably should go on when the time comes,” he remarked. Working there has been a dream come true for me.
“I’d like to travel abroad at some point.” Soph and I have discussed migrating to the United Kingdom; we both want to live there.
“I can’t stand the cold, and I don’t think Soph can either!” But it’d be wonderful to do something like that for a change of pace. I’ll always love Australia and call it home, but there’s so much more out there that I’d like to see.”