Neighbours have cast a new heartthrob in Luke Pegler.

The Australian actor, who recently starred in medical drama series Rescue: Special Ops, is to play Kyle Canning’s cousin Dane, who will move into Ramsay Street and take over Kyle’s room and board while he is away.

The hasty rewrite was done after Christopher Milligan, who plays Kyle, is taking time out after tearing his Achilles tendon.

“The show must go on. The beauty of Neighbours is we’re about families so we can pull in a cousin or sibling in these very unusual situations,” said the soap’s executive producer, Susan Bower, on the official Neighbours website.

Luke, sporting striking blond tips as his character’s trademark hairdo, has already begun filmed his first scene and will be seen on UK screens for six weeks from late November.

Meanwhile, cast members are mourning the loss of the Kennedy’s beloved pet dog Audrey, who has been put to sleep after suffering from canine cancer.

Audrey joined the soap in 2001 when she was eight weeks’ old.

“It was just lovely to have Audrey around. She really did brighten up the set and she made the Kennedys a complete family – she’ll be sadly missed by everyone,” said Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy), who has set up a Facebook tribute to the dog.

His screen wife Jackie Woodburne (Susan) added: “She was a scene stealer and could proudly claim to be the only natural blonde on the show. We’ll really miss her.”