Neighbours star Ian Smith has explained his return to the soap, revealing that Harold Bishop turns up to help a friend.

The actor, who was last seen as the popular fuddy duddy in 2009, is reprising the role this year.

Co-star Ryan Moloney, who plays Toadie, let slip the news in a magazine interview.

Ian confirmed the leak to Holy Soap: “Harold is called back to Ramsay Street to help a friend, and of course you all think you know who that friend is, and you’re all wrong.

“And of course there’s human pathos, there’s laughs – lots of laughs – [and] a little bit of romance, but I’m not saying who for, because I don’t think she/he would like me to let it out. Look, there’s a little bit of everything, but the thing is it’s all a happy ending and it couldn’t be better, and I loved it.”

He said he expected to be on screen for ‘maybe six weeks to a couple of months’.

Discussing who he would interact with, Ian said: “Well, there wouldn’t be a show if Lou and Harold didn’t end up punching up, would there? There’d be no show there! All his favourite friends. And, as Harold does, he ends up being a father figure or a grandfather figure to the youngsters, and a lot of them take him on board as an advisor.

“I’ve been assured that he gets lots of interaction with the younger members of the cast, which I’m very happy about because I love those scenes. They’ve always worked well, since Kylie’s days.”