Neighbours spoilers follow.
Neighbours has been absent from our screens for nearly 14 months, but time on Ramsay Street seems to have progressed a little more quickly.
The show airs its big return episode today (September 18) and quickly establishes that a two-year time jump has occurred between the "final ever" episode in July 2022 and the launch of the new season.
In an early scene, Susan Kennedy references the discrepancy in a chat with Harold Bishop, who's back in town for a visit.
As Harold was last in Erinsborough for Toadie Rebecchi and Melanie Pearson's wedding, Susan points out that a lot has happened in the two years since he was last in the area. Yep, that's two years, not one.
While soaps usually tend not to play with time in this way, Digital Spy understands that the decision was made for various practical and storytelling reasons.
Some stars who were part of the 2022 cast have not returned for the new season of Neighbours, so a two-year gap – rather than 14 months – provides a more realistic timeframe for so many characters to have naturally moved on.
The longer gap also provides more opportunities for the show to explore how life on Ramsay Street has changed while we weren't able to watch our favourite characters.
In a recent chat with Digital Spy and other media, Neighbours' executive producer Jason Herbison explained: "[The time jump] was decided very early on, when we were having talks with Amazon.
"We knew there was going to be a transmission gap, so life for the audience would have gone on and time would have passed for them too.
"It just felt like a one-off opportunity. In serial dramas, there aren't a lot of things you can do for the first time.
"Of course, other soaps have done time jumps, but in our case, we were actually going to have been off air as well. We felt that it was a great opportunity – and two years felt like a really nice timeline."
Jackie Woodburne, who plays Susan Kennedy, has hinted that the show will slowly start to fill in the gaps over what happened during the two years in question.
She told us: "What's interesting is that in every house, there are these small domestic stories going on, against a much bigger backdrop of just amazing stories.
"There's a two-year time jump – and you might find out what happened during that time further on down the line. The stories are just phenomenal. It's fantastic."
Tim Kano, who plays Leo Tanaka, has also spoken positively about the storyline opportunities that the time jump presents for his character.
He recently said: "There are some new faces and some old faces, and I'm really happy about how we've jumped in time, so there's been an evolution in the characters, their arcs, and their relationships.
"I'm really excited [with Leo] as a single dad, who was a baby when the show finished and is now a three-year-old, so it's going to be a really interesting time for my character to finally navigate being a single dad with a toddler and running the vineyard and things like that."
Check out more of our Neighbours coverage:
Neighbours releases new episodes from Mondays to Thursdays for free on Amazon Freevee in the UK and US. In Australia, the show airs from Mondays to Thursdays at 4.30pm on Channel 10, with a 6.30pm repeat screening on 10 Peach.
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