“He’s a bit of a bad guy when he leaves.”
Spoilers for Neighbours are below.
Neighbours will bid Ned Willis farewell next week as he departs Erinsborough for a new beginning in Sydney.
After being caught cheating on Amy Greenwood with Harlow Robinson, Ned quits out of Ramsay Street, realizing that he needs to make a clean break after his poor behavior.
In real life, Ben Hall, who plays Ned, finished filming his farewell scenes in March, only weeks after learning that Neighbours would be ending after 37 years on the air.
Ben was recently interviewed by Digital Spy on Ned’s departure, his future plans, and the upcoming Neighbours finale.
When Ned announces his departure, how do the Ramsay Street residents react?
“Ned is undoubtedly departing with a cloud over his head. This is one of Ned’s worst moments, in my opinion. He’s done some pretty stupid things in his time, but there were always mitigating factors.
“Ned made that decision this time, and it irritates a lot of people. Paul is dissatisfied, as is Terese, who has always been on the lookout for him. Toadie, too, is disgusted by his actions. As a result, he’s no longer welcome on the Street.”
Did you have fun playing it, or did you wish Ned would leave on a more positive note?
“What’s more, guess what? He was a little of a bad kid when he came in, and he is still a bit of a bad boy when he departs. That ending didn’t bother me at all. I think it was quite appropriate for Ned.”
What led to your departure from the show?
“My contract had come to an end at that point. After learning that Channel 5 would not renew the [Neighbours] contract, the show needed to come up with new plots.
“There were probably some cast members who left to provide room for new plots, opportunities for individuals to return, and other such things.
“I believe Ned had a good reason to go at the time.”
How did you react when you learned that the show was coming to an end? Was it because you were leaving anyhow that your reaction was a little different?
“Yeah, I suppose I’d accepted the fact that I’d be departing. For me, it wasn’t quite as bad. But it was heartbreaking in the sense that it’s always great to know that program is still on and that there’s something to look forward to.
“For those going up through the ranks in Australia, Neighbours is also a huge part of the industry. It’s really only Home and Away remaining where you can get that kind of feeling, which I believe is a shame.
“At the same time, it’s going to be such a fantastic finish, and what they’ve got planned is going to pay tribute to everyone of the cast and crew over the past 37 years, which I think is a really wonderful way to go.
“It could have gone on for a little longer and then fizzled out in a bad way. This, on the other hand, will be a great, final hurrah. They have the funds. They’ve gotten the crowds to return. There’s a lot going on toward the conclusion of the storylines. As a result, I believe it will be fantastic.”
Because you play Beth Brennan’s son, the producers will almost certainly need you as an explanation if they decide to bring Natalie Imbruglia back. Is it possible that Ned will return for the finale?
“Look, I’d be delighted to. I’d love to do a scene with Natalie Imbruglia if they asked and I was available. That’s something I’m willing to consider. It’s up to the ruling class to decide.”
Some fans are having a hard time letting go of Neighbours, believing that something might happen at the eleventh hour. Do you believe there’s any chance the show may be revived in the future, or do we just have to accept the fact that it’s over?
“It’s an excellent question. I strongly believe the show has the ability to return, although in a different format or in a different style.
“I don’t believe the show will return in its current form. After all, you never know. It’s the type of business where someone appears out of nowhere with a budget, a time slot, and the ability to complete the task. That would be incredible.
“But, for the time being, it’s coming to an end, and we’re going to commemorate 37 incredible years of the show and then let it go.”
What can you tell us about your plans for the future?
“I’ve begun work on yet another project. I can’t say much about it yet since I’m working on something new that’s completely different from Neighbours, but I’m very thrilled about it. It’s undoubtedly a beneficial learning experience for me.”
Are you planning to stay in Australia or go around the world?
“I’m hoping to visit the United Kingdom later this year, depending on work. But I’d want to come over, stay for a few months, acquire some representation, and possibly work there in the future. It’d be wonderful.”
Former Neighbours stars have recently been employed by Home and Away. Would you ever consider making the trip to Summer Bay?
“Never in a million years would I say no. I’m always up for new challenges. First, show me the documents! But, hey, what the hell, why not? I know Harley Bonner has had a great time on there, so I wouldn’t rule it out altogether. I’d feel a little bit like a traitor, though!”