As much as the bombshell news dropped in February about ‘Neighbours’ left fans disappointed, farewelling Australia’s longest-running soap calls for a worthy send off.

Neos Kosmos can now reveal that Olympia Valance is among the ‘favourites from the past’ selected by Network 10 to return to Ramsay for an on-air celebration.

Confirmation of Paige Smith’s comeback for the series finale comes just days after iconic TV couple Scott and Charlene (played by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue) were announced to return.

“We are delighted to have Olympia join us for the celebrations, she is a much-loved cast member and character, and always brings a wonderful energy to the set. Paige Smith has an edge to her that is guaranteed to shake up things – stand by, ” Neighbours Executive Producer, Jason Herbsion, said.

‘Moving’ to Ramsay St in 2014, marked the transition from modelling to the small screen for Olympia Valance. “I feel like I grew up on Neighbours, so it’s incredible sad to be saying goodbye permanently,” she tells Neos Kosmos of her return for the series finale.
Photo: Olympia Valance/Twitter.

Since Valance first became a Ramsay St resident in 2014, much has changed both in fictional Erinsborough’s makeup and off screen.

Last time she appeared on the show was in its 35th anniversary in 2020.

But joining the season’s finale is much more than a guest stint for the actress; rather a homecoming.

“Neighbours has always felt like home to me. It was my first acting job, and it taught me so much. There is a reason why everyone refers to Neighbours as the best training ground in the world,” Valance tells Neos Kosmos.

Indeed, the show has the reputation of a stomping ground for Aussie talent across the industry, including Russell Crowe and Delta Goodrem.

Coming on board the cast was not a walk in the park, though. Then 21-year-old Valance had revealed in an interview shortly after landing the role that it took no less than four nerve-breaking auditions.

Olympia Valance (Paige Smith) and Gina Liano (Mary Smith) back in 2015. Photo: Supplied by Fremantle media.

Asked to reflect on those times now, she says:

“Not only did Neighbours become my first acting gig, it was also my first audition ever, so I had no idea what to expect.

“I didn’t know how many call backs were considered normal, or how many other actors I was up against to get the part, it was a completely foreign experience for me. I decided to just give it all that I had, a real ‘you have to be in it to win it’ mentality.”

Valance knows the industry can be “very tough, if you don’t have a thick skin”, but in hindsight the one thing she would tell her younger self – and share with anyone entering the industry – would be to “give every opportunity that is placed in front of you everything that you’ve got. And if the cards don’t land in your favour, then remember not to take it too personally.”

From the opening scene in 1985, Neighbours has gained the hearts of viewers Down Under and overseas spanning different generations.

And before filming wraps up in June, producers are promising the last round of episodes – with the very final one, the 8,903rd, set to air on 1 August – will “have something for everyone” with current cast joined by “the most memorable characters from across many eras”.

Paige Smith couldn’t be absent from the party.

“Paige has shifted and grown so much since audiences were first introduced to her in 2014. She found her way back to her family, she became a mum, and last time audiences saw her on screen she finally got married to the love of her life. ” says Valance.

Last time audiences saw Paige Smith on screen she finally got married to Mark Brennan.
Valance made a guest appearance in Neighbours in the show’s 35th anniversary in 2020. This year, she is about to get married in real life to Thomas Bellchambers. Photo: Supplied by Fremantle media..

Asked for exclusive spoilers, sorry but she “can’t say a word!”

“All I can confirm is that Paige is coming back.

“I think a lot of care and attention has been put into these final episodes of Neighbours. They really are a dedication to the fans, so I think everyone will be very happy.”

End of an era for a show that kept company to Aussies in their living rooms for the last 37 years.

Fans will remembers this 2016 scene where Paige catches Nene attending to John Doe when she isn’t supposed to be working in the hospital. Photo: Supplied by Fremantle media.

Valance’s thoughts?

“I feel like I grew up on Neighbours, so it’s incredibly sad to be saying goodbye permanently.”

“[…]it’s incredibly special to step back into the shoes of Paige as Australia farewells it’s most iconic television program. I still can’t believe it is coming to an end.”

Thankfully for the Greek Australian actress, there are more big things to look forward to during the year.

“Thomas [Bellchambers] and I are about to get married, so that is the most exciting part of 2022 for me! We’re then heading on an extended honeymoon to Greece which I just can’t wait for[…] If there is one thing these past few years have taught us, it’s to take any and every chance you have to travel and celebrate, so that’s exactly what we’re planning on doing.”

Valance states with no hesitation that Greece is her “favourite place in the world.”

We can’t blame her. It couldn’t have been otherwise for the granddaughter of Neos Kosmos founder.