When Alan Fletcher first walked back onto the Neighbours set at Melbourne's Nunawading Studios, it was as if nothing had changed. There was the same security guard outside the building. He caught up with old friends.
"Everything old was new again," Alan, 66, tells TV WEEK from the set of the resurrected Aussie drama. "But it was screamingly apparent what had changed and what hadn't.
"Neighbours has always been a family. You'd see someone from the past and give them a big hug, then you'd turn a corner and see someone new and ask, 'What's your name? What department are you in?'"
With scripts in hand and rehearsing, the cast are now well and truly back at work. Alan has been poring over three weeks' worth of scripts and says the new stories "are fantastic".
"I have read some of the best scripts that I have ever read on the show, and that's 28 years right there," Fletcher told TV WEEK at the Logie Awards red carpet.
"Being back on Neighbours is like going home, but everything that was old is new again. It's very special and very different as well," he continued.
"When people see [the reboot], it will be like coming back to a familiar friend. What will be interesting to see are the subtle changes made to how it looks and how we film."
Of course, fans were surprised in November when it was announced the show was rescued by streaming platform Amazon Freevee, just a few months after Neighbours aired what was then thought to be its last hurrah. It was a suitably star-filled episode, featuring original cast members Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce.
But returning to the TV WEEK Logie Awards in 2023 felt extra special for Alan.
"To be able to come back and say, 'Hey, we've got a new show' is just wonderful," he tells TV WEEK.
Not to mention getting the chance to catch up with Home And Away favourite Lynne McGranger on stage while presenting the award for Most Popular Entertainment Program together.
"We go way back," Alan, 66, says of Lynne who, along with fellow H&A stalwart Ray Meagher, are the only two actors to have starred in an Australian TV series longer than he has.
"Combined, Lynne and I have done 59 years on soaps," he says.
Returning for the reboot are a cavalcade of Ramsay Street favourites. Along with Alan, who reprises his role as Dr Karl Kennedy, Stefan Dennis, Jackie Woodburne, Melissa Bell, Ryan Moloney, Annie Jones, Rebekah Elmaloglou, Lucinda Cowden, Georgie Stone and Tim Kano are back – as is the legendary Ian Smith as iconic Neighbours character Harold Bishop.
There are also new cast members joining the show. UK-born American film and TV actress Mischa Barton – famous for playing troubled teen Marissa Cooper in hit 2000s drama The OC – has already been announced, but Alan teases there are more he can't discuss just yet.
What fans can't wait to see is what's next for Ryan and Lucinda's characters Toadie and Melanie, who tied the knot last year.
What of scheming Paul (Stefan) and his roller-coaster relationship with Terese (Rebekah)? And how will the show's writers resolve the Jane (Annie) and Mike (Guy Pearce) storyline, after the former lovers reunited in the final episode?
"There are lot of things for fans to be excited about," Alan says of the 2023 season to come. "Neighbours will pull out all the stops to surprise audiences."
As for Karl and Susan (Jackie), he says historically a lot of the drama has revolved around the characters "moving through" the Kennedy household, which he expects to continue.