Only a few soap opera characters have as much fame as Paul Robinson from Neighbours (Stefan Dennis).
Since appearing in the first episode of the serial drama, the cunning businessman has deceived, cheated, and manipulated numerous Ramsay Street favourites.
But even so, we still adore him!
He had six wives, numerous kids, and more business dealings under his belt than one could count, solidifying his status as one of television’s best villains and most complex characters.
However, Neighbours’ unfortunate demise is quickly approaching after Channel 5 made the contentious decision to remove it from their lineup in favour of “original UK drama,” which the network claims has a “great appeal” for viewers.
Tonight (July 29), the show concludes in a beautiful manner with an hour-long outing that honours everything Neighbours is, was, and still could’ve been.
But before the big finale, Metro.co.uk met up with a number of the cast members, and we couldn’t have been happier to speak with Paul himself, Mr. Stefan Dennis, who reflected on his time on the programme and gave viewers a sneak peek at the conclusion.
How do you feel that the final season of Neighbours is approaching?
That question baffles me since there is no emotion. Ironically, the only thing that alerts us to the impending end is the publicity we continue to spread about it!
Time flies really rapidly when you’re working on the programme, so I anticipate blinking and it’ll be too late. Once the axe actually falls, they exclaim, “That’s a wrap! Congratulations everyone, Neighbours is now complete!” I predict that everyone will start crying at this point.
If someone needs to talk or if you are devastated by the loss of Neighbours, they even have counsellors available to us, but nobody has actually spoken to them because we have been content to move on. Everyone doesn’t want to be around for a good several hours when the penny drops, which I believe will be a different story.
Do you believe that Neighbours will continue forever?
Yes! It is a humorous thing. You think that about all the storied soap operas around the world – you can envision Days of our Lives ending, but not Coronation Street. “No, those shows don’t end,” it’s like. It has been like that. People might have said: “Oh that’s not too bad, they had a good run” if Neighbours had continued for three, four, or even ten years, but when it ends after 37 years, they ask: “Woah, what is happening here?”
Are the show’s finale and last months a fitting celebration of the programme and its years of popularity, in your opinion?
Most sure, I say! They are bringing everyone back for that reason. I believe it’s for the viewers and fans since they’ll want to recognise some well-known and possibly even less well-known faces from the past. But it’s also quite cathartic for us because we get to say goodbye to the folks we started with, which is lovely. There have been times when I haven’t seen some people for a very long time. I was collaborating with someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time. “Hi, how are you then?” was spoken for the first thirty seconds, and then it was just talking and talking! The fact that we have that chance is almost therapeutic.
Will this be the first time we’ve seen so many Robinson children on film at once? Elle, Andrew, and Amy “returned,” and David and Leo are certainly on the show.
I predict there will be some confusion. That excites me greatly. As an actor, it is wonderful to see everything come full circle. Pippa [Black, who plays Elle] was among the individuals I longed to see again the most. She just makes me so happy. When we worked together on set, Nat Bass (who portrays Izzy Hoyland), Pippa, and I used to have the most incredible time. We also grew close off-set. But once more, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her, so little things like that make me happy.
Since you’ve been playing Paul from the start, did you ever imagine that he’d end up as one of the most recognisable and legendary soap opera characters of all time?
No! Isn’t it strange! [laughs]. Even if I don’t consider myself to be that, I find myself saying, “I am, aren’t I?” when someone like you says it. [laughs]. I’m a well-known television antagonist and one of the most recognisable soap opera characters in the entire world! When I first started acting at the age of fourteen or fifteen, I had dreams of appearing on an Academy stage and winning one of those tiny gold statues, but what do you know? It almost seems like I did it better!
When I was chatting to my children, they asked, “How famous are you, dad? It appears that many people know you. I said as I sat down: “You know what? There are at least one billion individuals on this world who are aware of who I am, which is going to sound incredibly strange. Probably a lot more exist. When you consider the number of nations Neighbours visits and the fact that it has been airing for 37 years in 65 or so different nations, you can see that quite a few generations of people throughout the world are familiar with Paul Robinson and, perhaps, Stefan Dennis. but most likely not! [laughs].
Do you have a favourite storyline, or perhaps a few favourites, out of all the wonderful ones you’ve been a part of over the years?
Not at all, no! [laughs]. Though it would be challenging for me to choose just one from the hundreds, thousands, or more that come to mind. We are covering a period of four decades. I’m frequently questioned about this, and when I used to be, I would respond, “I have a plot,” and then, after about four interviews, I would tell the identical tales to four different journalists! I concluded that I didn’t have a favourite plot, so there. I have a lot of favourite moments and narrative arcs that I can recall for being either good or horrible.
Paul’s cancer scare is among the really heartbreaking ones I can still clearly recall. When you stop to think about it, Dr. Nick’s tricking him into getting chemotherapy was very Paul Robinson of him, yet Paul still reacted badly to it. [laughs]. Paul, I believe in 2006, did exactly that with Elle.
Over the years, Paul has had some fairly severe lows. Did you anticipate Paul in later years, or were you still astounded by the terrible things he does?
Paul doesn’t seem to be the lowly, cunning, and vindictive person he formerly was, in my opinion. Because he was so incredibly wealthy and had so much power, I used to refer to him as being “deliciously wicked” when I initially returned to the programme for the first two or three years. His evil deeds included dissolving families, such as when he had a relationship with Liljana Bishop. The Willis family was another family he disintegrated. Paul is no longer that way.
He remains a cunning businessman, but he now has a slight conscience, something he never had. In the beginning, Paul’s conscience manifested as his young brother and grandmother. More lately, Terese has served as Paul’s conscience. He finally woke up, in my opinion, after Terese, especially after their breakup. I believe that was the deciding factor that led Paul to connect the dots and realise he needed a moral compass. I’m not sure if it will occur or not!
Do you believe there’s a chance that Terese and Paul will get back together? Would you wish to see them reunite before to the conclusion?
Paul and Terese deserve a successful conclusion, please. But is that a smart move? They have tried it over and over, but it never seems to work. Terese is without a doubt Paul’s real love. For various reasons, Paul has had two genuine loves in his life: Gail and Terese. For the character arc, I’d really like to see Paul and Terese reconcile, but I’m not sure if that’s unfixable.
After all this time, would saying goodbye to Paul be difficult?
Oh absolutely, sure. I anticipate it will be a difficult day saying goodbye to Paul at Nudawading Studios. I’m not sure how I’ll feel; I mean, how will you feel when your son is born? You simply can’t know until it does. I might simply leave and say, “See you later, Paul,” or I might be a little unhappy for a few days. It’s going to be quite odd, in my opinion. Why does it sound so strange to you?
But that’s exactly how weird my job is. I’m impelled to respond, “I go to work and pretend to be somebody else!” when people ask what I do for a living because that is exactly what my career has been: pretending to be someone else. Acting is a strange thing. Despite the fact that the topics I’m discussing and the persona of Paul Robinson are entirely fictitious, I’m still speaking as though he were a real person. However, he is not; nothing is there [laughs].
We are aware that Neighbours is tragically coming to an end, but if it were to ever return, even in a different format, would you be willing to play Paul once more?
Never say never. I believe that right now, I would likely respond, “No. The contract has been finalised, and I am prepared to wrap up Neighbours and start a new chapter. I have no idea whatever that might be.
If they told me in a few months: “Hey, guys, excellent news! The show has actually been picked up and is now available on whatever, whether it be streaming, free-to-air, or whatever. I would probably give it some thought, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I decided to accept.
What’s next for you, and what are your plans after the show?
I’m going to organise my pictures! I find it hilarious that some people have thousands of images on their computers but never look at them. I enjoy flipping through photo albums and saying, “Aw, look at that one,” because I’m old-fashioned. The ones from the 1970s have a sepia tone to them and are ancient and faded.
After Neighbours is over, I’ll be much busy than I was while filming it because I have a lot of household chores, garden work, and other things that need to be done. In addition to a few ongoing projects, I wish to embark on some significant trips.
Additionally, there are absolutely no brakes on my desire to keep acting. I will participate in something as long as people want me to and it’s a good part, thank you very much! On my final performance, I’ll pop my clogs. Overall, I don’t have any specific plans right now, but I’m sure I’ll be busy.
Neighbors: Channel 5 will broadcast The Finale at 9 p.m. tonight.