Neighbours - why has Byron Stone been recast?

Neighbours spoilers follow.

Neighbours airs its long-awaited return episode today (September 18), but one of the show's leading characters is looking a little different.

Jane Harris' son Byron Stone has been upgraded to a show regular for the revival series, after appearing for a brief stint in the final weeks of the 2022 season.

Former Nowhere Boys actor Joe Klocek played the original version of Byron last year, but he hasn't returned for the new chapter of Neighbours.

Xavier Molyneux has taken over the role of Byron and will be playing him from this point forward.

xavier molyneux as byron stone in neighbours
FremantleMedia Australia / Amazon Freevee

In a recent chat with Digital Spy and other media, Neighbours' executive producer Jason Herbison confirmed that some cast were unavailable to reprise their roles for the new season.

This left show bosses with some tough decisions to make over whether to lose their characters or recast.

Jason explained: "With the decision to do a time jump, that meant that some people naturally would have moved on.

"There were people who were unavailable as they had moved on to other projects, so we had decisions to make over whether or not we might want to recast those roles, or whether or not we might move them on from the show."

embargo 13062022 joe klocek and annie jones as byron stone and jane harris in neighbours
Fremantle - Channel 5

When Byron's return was announced, previous actor Joe was quizzed by fans on social media over the recast.

Giving his backing to Xavier, Joe replied: "Work and life has taken me elsewhere but Byron Stone is in good hands!"

Joe's Instagram shows that he has spent lots of time travelling this year, while Neighbours has been busy filming the new season.

In a fun piece of trivia, Neighbours newcomer Xavier recently revealed that he was down to the final two when the original auditions for Byron took place in 2022.

byron stone in neighbours
FremantleMedia Australia

Speaking to Digital Spy and other press, Xavier explained: "I cried when I got the part. Just because, obviously, it was huge when I was growing up. I loved the show.

"I was supposed to be travelling all this year and I got a call from my agent, whilst I was in Canada.

"My agent called and said: 'If you get on the next flight, you can get in front of Thea McLeod, who's casting Neighbours for Byron Stone' – who I tried out for last year, and I came second to Joe Klocek! So it was a big moment."

Byron will play a big role in the early episodes of the new season. Now working at the hotel, he enjoys a fling with mysterious Lassiters guest Reece, played by former OC star Mischa Barton.

byron stone and reece in neighbours
FremantleMedia Australia

Xavier previously appeared as a contestant on Big Brother Australia in 2020.

Since leaving the Big Brother house, Xavier has filmed roles in short films Girl and Aussie of the Year. He has also been involved in the film Take My Hand alongside Adam Demos, Radha Mitchell and former Home and Away star Jake Ryan.

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.

Read more Neighbours coverage on our dedicated homepage

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