Neighbours is rocked as Dee returns from the dead after 13 years away from Ramsay Street

The Neighbours are in meltdown next week, when after 13 years away, Toadie’s former wife, Dee Bliss, shows up in Erisborough. A stunned Toadie is reeling to come face to face with the wife he presumed had died following the horrific wedding day car crash that saw the pair plunge over a cliff edge.

Here, in an exclusive chat with What’s on TV, actress Madeleine West talks about Dee’s dramatic comeback, the ensuing fall-out and what the future holds for both her and her character.

A nervous Dee knocks on Toadie’s door

Everyone thought Dee had drowned following the crash that saw her and Toadie plunged into the sea. What actually happened to her?
“She suffered bad head injuries after the crash. She remembers hearing rescue vehicles and helicopters whirring above her in the sea and Toadie calling out her name. The next thing she knew she was on a beach and couldn’t remember who she was or where she’d come from.”

So has her memory suddenly come back after 13 years?
“It’s returned very gradually with time. It’s taken her a very long time to recover. Over time more and more memories have returned but things are out of context,  so now she’s really keen to slot everything back into place. By filling in more gaps about her past she can work out more about her present and who she is now.”

So why has she chosen now to come back to Ramsay Street?
“There have been several times over the years that she’s wanted to return and contact Toadie, but she never quite made it. She either lost her courage or found out he was involved with someone new. The time has never been right so she’s been putting this moment off until now when she turns up on his doorstep.”

Surprise! Toadie is stunned to see his ex wife back from the dead.

So how does Toadie react to see her standing in front of him?!
“Dee just knocks on his door and says, ‘Hi, it’s me. I’m back!’ It’s not every day your wife returns from the dead after 13 years. Understandably Toadie feels shock, confusion and denial. She looks the same, her voice is the same, her mannerisms are the same. There’s no denying she’s Dee!”

What happens next?
“After the initial huge shock, Dee and Toadie have a day reacquainting themselves, driving around Erinsborough and seeing how much has changed. Toadie does his very best, on her request, to help Dee remember who she was and to fill in the past.”

That’s all well and good, but how on earth does Toadie’s wife Sonya react to this sudden reappearance of his ex?
“Of course she’s unsettled. Toadie reassures her that he loves her and that he’s just going to try and help Dee get back on her feet. Sonya can’t help feeling fearful though, she knows that Dee was the first woman that Toadie ever really loved.”

Sonya’s feeling increasingly uneasy as Dee and Toadie chat.

And does Dee have any children?
“Yes, we later discover she’s got a daughter called Willow. There are going to be all sorts of questions raised. It’s all very juicy!”

What repercussions are there going to be for Toadie and Dee?
“Questions about their feelings for each other will come to the surface and and hearts are going to be broken!”

Dee may be smiling but Sonya’s not so happy to see her hubby’s ex wife on her doorstep.

So what’s it been like being back on Neighbours?
“I’ve been filming for two and a half months and it’s been absolutely wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s lovely to see people again like Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy) and Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy) and of course Ryan (Moloney) who plays Toadie”

You’ve certainly been very busy since you were last on the set. You’ve had six children: Phoenix, 10, Hendrix, 8, Xascha, 6, Xanthe, 4  and two-year-0ld twins Margaux and Xhalia, you’ve  been in various films and written a book!
“Yes. Writing is one of my first loves. After the children I wrote Six Under Eight. It’s a semi- autobiographical book about modern parenting with six children, it’s kind of an anti-parenting manual.

“You’ve got all these manuals on the shelves but at the end of the day there’s no one set of rules, regulations and restrictions that apply to bringing up children. Every child is different. You have to trust your instincts, listen to your children and you can’t go wrong.”

And you’ve also done some screen writing?
“Yes, I’ve been writing for Neighbours. I’ve written a few  episodes which has been fun and I’m in the process of writing my own TV drama… we’ll see what happens there. Sadly I think as you get older, acting roles can become fewer on the ground. That’s the nature of film and TV so it’s good to look at different ways to keep working within the industry.”

Would you like to write another book?
“Definitely. I’d love to. Doing the first one has given me the confidence to write another.  I’ve written a couple of TV pilots before but they didn’t ever go into into production. I’ve been too busy producing myself. But now my family is complete. There definitely are NOT going to be any more babies!”

What help do you have with childcare. Do grandparents pitch in?
“Yes, the children love spending time with their grandparents, but when I’m working on set the hours can be very long and unpredictable so it wouldn’t be fair or practical to rely on grandparents. Time with them should be  about pleasure not obligation. When I’m working I also have the help of a wonderful nanny who is amazing.”

Your partner, restauranteur and chef  Shannon Bennett, is a busy man and with six children, how do you find time for just the two of you?
“Yes Shannon’s usually working in the evening. He’s either in one of his restaurants or busy filming Australian Master Chef.  That’s the way the cookie’s crumbled.  I’m very much the home-maker and he’s the primary bread-winner. Even though he’s a chef it’s me that does all the day to day cooking.

“My favourite thing that he sometimes makes is a truffle risotto. Delicious! We do make a point of getting away for a couple of days somewhere special once a year but even that takes a lot of organisation. When you’ve got six children going away means getting in more than one nanny and that in itself can get complicated. Shannon and I try and find time to sit down and have a glass of wine together once a week to chat and watch a box set or a movie but it’s easier said that done.”

What have you got stuck into recently?
We’ve  both been a bit obsessed with The Walking Dead and I’ve been watching The Crown, it’s wonderful. It makes me want to come back to London.  I’ve been to the UK many times and lived in Kensington for a while. I love London and consider it my second home.”

Watch Dee’s dramatic return to Neighbours on Monday 23 Jan on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and repeated at 5.30pm.