“Neighbours Joy & Heartbreak” Neighbours 2013

New Idea

Our new beginnings

Three familiar faces back on our screens – on Ramsay Street! Here, we catch up with Carla, Kate and Nicola…

Carla Bonner: ‘My new love and new start’

The most famous street in Australia welcomes back two faces from the past – and a new one – in a shake up that has curtains twitching and neighbours gossiping!

Her character was one of the Neighbours’ all-time favourites and Carla Bonner says she can’t wait to slip back under her skin.

More than two years since she last stepped foot on Ramsey Street Carla’s back, reprising her sole as Steph Scully, and the 40-year-old actress admits it’s a strange sensation.

‘It’s been two years – but, weirdly, it still feel a bit like home she tells New Idea from the garage door of her character’s house on Ramsey Street’,

‘In some sense it feels so long ago, but in others, it’s like time has just melted away and I’ve always been here.’

Carla made the difficult decision to leave the show in 2010, in order to spend more time with her sons Jhye, 14 and Harley, 21,

‘Neighbours was such a big part of my life – I was on the show for 11 years,’ she says. ‘I made the choice to go because I needed a break – and I needed to devote some time to my sons before they grew up, left home and didn’t need me anymore,’

Since leaving Neighbours, Carla has embarked on a new romantic relationship and, while she admits to being a bit freaked out about having just turned 40, she couldn’t be happier.

‘I have a beautiful man – we’ve been together about a year. He is a divine,’ she reveals. ‘Life’s really good at the moment.’

And she’s dying to find out what Steph’s been up to. ‘They sent my character to jail, so I can’t wait to see what’s happened to her, what she has lost and what she can regain,’ Carla says.

Kate Kendall: ‘I love playing mum!’

It’s fair to say that Kate Kendall knows a lot about what it takes to raise a family. As a mum to four-year-old Darcy with her husband, Carlton football legend Wayne Johnston, 55, as well as a stepmom to his four grown=up kids, the 39-year-old actress is the perfect fit to portray Ramsay Street matriarch Lauren Turner.

‘Lauren is a great character to play’ says the former Stringers star of Lou Carpenter’s long-lost daughter (previously played by Sarah Vadenberg).

‘It’s really helped me play her, being a mum and playing a mum. It’s that multi-tasking skill that mums have – I find it’s just effortless to tape into.

‘Away from work it’s like “Who’s looking after Darcy tomorrow? We’ve got to drop him off at Mum’s or can she pick him up here?” – all that logistical stuff. Sometimes coming to work feels easier than staying home!’

It’s a conundrum many mums identify with – and why we relate to show such as Neighbours, as well as Kate’s favourite.

‘I just love Modern Family,’ laughs the star. ‘Darcy keeps saying, “No Mum, no more Modern Family!” But I just love it. My husband thinks I’m Claire. I’m like: I’m so not her!”‘

And what of Kate’s hubby – is he like any of the characters on the hit US comedy series? ‘I think my husband is probably a bit of a Jay,’ Kate laughs.

Nicola Charles: ‘Leaving ruined my life’

Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And for Nicola Charles, who rose to international fame thanks to her role as siren Sarah Beaumont in the popular soap, this saying has never felt more true.

More than 13 years after first walking away from Neighbours, the 43-year-old admits she regrets turning her back on what was one of the happiest times of her life. Although she now has three gorgeous children, a loving new husband and a reignited acting career – including guest appearances on Neighbours – what happened in the interim still weighs heaving on her mind.

‘I was very, very sad to leave the show. Iy end a decision I made because I wanted to continue a relationship,’ she explains. ‘It is quite literally the worst thing I’ve ever done.’

Not long after, Sarah and her then-husband relocated to LA, and went on to to have daughters Freya, nine and Nova, five.

With two little ones, Sarah’s career was on the backburner. Then, in 2008, the relationship fell apart and a bitter custody battle ensued. ‘It was a very difficult time – and noe one I’d like to relive,’ Nicola admits. ‘But that has all settled down.’

Sarah is now happily married to new husband Mark Tabberner – the father of her two-year-old son Archie – and thrilled to be back in Oz. ‘I’m finally back to where I want to be – and back where I want the children to be raised,’

By Clare Rigden

Original content copyright New Idea.