|Portrayed by||Carla Bonner|
|First appearance||20 October 1999|
|Last appearance||27 May 2013|
|Introduced by||Stanley Walsh (1999)
Richard Jasek (2013)
|Steph in Prison|
|Occupation||Courier (until 2002)
Mechanic (2004–07, 2009–10)
Charlie's owner (2006–08)
Manager of Harold's Store (2013)
Stephanie Jo "Steph" Scully (previously Hoyland) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Carla Bonner. She made her first screen appearance during the episode that was broadcast on 20 October 1999. Following Bonner's decision to quit the show after eleven years, Steph departed on 24 November 2010. In November 2012, it was announced that Bonner would be reprising the role for a two month guest stint and Steph returned on 15 April 2013.
Steph is the eldest daughter of Joe (Shane Connor) and Lyn Scully (Janet Andrewartha). Steph's storylines have included marrying Max Hoyland (Stephen Lovatt), becoming a stepmother to his children Boyd (Kyal Marsh) and Summer (Marisa Siketa), battling breast cancer, pregnancy, being the victim of a stabbing and infidelity. Upon her return, Steph revealed that she had suffered a break down in prison and became determined to win back her former boyfriend, Lucas Fitzgerald (Scott Major). Steph has proven popular with viewers, who named her their favourite Neighbours character in 2010.
Creation and casting
The Scully family were created and introduced to Neighbours following the departure of Martin family. Stephanie was introduced along with her parents Lyn (Janet Andrewartha) and Joe (Shane Connor) and her younger sisters Felicity (Holly Valance) and Michelle (Kate Keltie). Reporters for eBroadcast said Stephanie was twenty years old and preferred leathers and motorbikes to the hobbies of her peers. In September 1999, Inside Soap reported that Emma Roche had joined the cast of Neighbours as Stephanie. However, Roche unexpectedly quit the role after three weeks.
When Carla Bonner dropped by to see her agent, she was on the phone to the Neighbours casting director, Jan Russ. Russ asked to see Bonner straightaway for an audition for the part of Stephanie. Bonner had little acting experience, having appeared in television bit parts, but she went over to Russ' office and was given a script for a cold read. She was asked to go to the studio the next day, where she auditioned again. She then received a call to say she had got the part. Bonner had to learn nineteen scenes by the next day and develop the character of Stephanie quickly. Four days after her audition with Russ, she began filming. Bonner filmed three weeks worth of scenes in one week.
Steph is the only original member of the Scully family to have remained on the street. Steph is a tomboy with a passion for mechanics and motorbikes. Holy Soap said Steph is "one of the most dependable characters on the street." TV Week describe Steph as being "more into Grand Prix racing than girly stuff, but that hasn't stopped her from having her fair share of weddings and more than her fair share of romantic dramas". They also add that she has proven to be a loyal friend, a great mother to Charlie and a great stepmother.
Steph's later relationships with Max Hoyland (Stephen Lovatt) and Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) were main focal points in her storylining. Steph is strong, but the breakdown of her marriage nearly destroyed her. Of Max's departure and the effect it has on Steph, Bonner stated during an interview with television magaizine What's on TV: "Torn. She still loves him but she's also angry with him. I think she wants to move on because she knows she has to prepare herself for the fact he might never come home." Steph's best friend Toadie gives her a shoulder to cry on, they later start a relationship. Bonner further discusses their relationship in the same interview adding: "Steph and Toadie have been friends for years, but it’s never extended beyond friendship. Until now [...] I think it's inevitable when you start spending so much time with someone that after a while they just fit into your life. Toadie’s been a fantastic support to Steph, there every step of the way."
Describing the developments in Steph and Toadie's relationship during 2008, Dan Bennet speaking for Network Ten states: "Steph has already agreed to a long engagement with Toadie, but she's not ready to marry. This relationship will reach a massive fork in the road early in the new year. Toadie will force Steph to decide what she wants from this relationship."
One of the biggest storylines for Steph saw her being diagnosed with breast cancer. Bonner wanted to play the scenes with honesty and said that "it was important that Steph went through the whole thing". Bonner prepared for the storyline by researching the condition. She said "It wasn't something I was going to take lightly it was something very serious. It was important to raise awareness and important not to offend anybody". Bonner also turned to a family friend who had survived breast cancer and asked her questions about the condition. However, with other aspects of the condition, like hair loss, Bonner had to find her "own truth". The storyline was exhausting for Bonner, but it gave her a chance to show a different side to her character and it became a "rewarding personal challenge". On Steph's reaction to the cancer, Bonner said "It's just a huge learning curve and it's a huge life experience".
Bonner called the reaction to the storyline and the amount of publicity the condition gained "amazing". She revealed that she had received letters from members of the public complimenting her performance. She said "People seem to be so appreciative of the awareness that I seem to have raised". Bonner's doctor back home in Australia also told her that she would be amazed at the amount of awareness the storyline would raise. Executive producer Ric Pellizzeri revealed that a female viewer had sent in a letter of thanks for the cancer storyline, after she copied a breast examination that Steph had done and found a cancerous lump. Viewers watched Steph going through treatment for the cancer and it eventually went into remission. However, the cancer later returned while Steph was pregnant and she almost died after deciding to give birth before beginning treatment again.
In June 2010, it was announced that Bonner was to leave Neighbours after 11 years on the show. On her departure, Neighbours executive producer, Susan Bower, said "I'm very sad that Carla is leaving us and she knows the door is always open for Steph to return to Ramsay Street". Bonner began filming her last scenes in September and she said that she was feeling "very emotional" about leaving. Bonner said Steph's exit storyline was not what viewers would have imagined. She said "It's so out of the character, however the storyline is so strong and supports the outcome". Bonner added that Bower has made it possible for her to return in the future.
On 4 November 2012, it was confirmed that Bonner would be returning to Neighbours. She began filming her scenes from January 2013 and will be on-screen for two months. Bonner stated that she was "elated" to revisit the role of Steph and explained "We always knew when I left they would revisit her. When they contacted me and said it was time, there was no question of if I wanted to do it – of course I did!" Bonner said that she had received lots of emails and tweets from fans asking for Steph to come back to Neighbours, so she was happy to be able to please them. Steph returned during the episode broadcast on 15 April 2013.
Bonner revealed that due to having a rough time in prison and losing custody of Charlie, Steph is "a bit damaged". She returns to Erinsborough to settle a score with someone and Bonner said "There's a bit of anger that has brewed while she's in prison and she's definitely had a bit of time to think things over." TV Week's Erin Miller proclaimed that there would be plenty of scenes between Steph and her former partner, Lucas Fitzgerald (Scott Major), with Bonner commenting that Steph might be looking for comfort and familiarity with him. In April, further details of Steph's return were released. Bonner told TV Week's Jackie Brygel that Steph wants rehabilitation and to get her life in order. Steph's reappearance is met with "some bewilderment" from Toadie, while Lucas is happy to see her again. Steph has become hopeful that Lucas has waited for her, but she soon learns that Lucas is in a relationship with Vanessa Villante (Alin Sumarwata).
When Steph announces that she is going to run Harold's Store, where Vanessa works, she tries to reassure her that she no longer has any interest in Lucas. However, Steph is "visibly shaken" when she learns that Lucas and Vanessa have a child. Bonner explained "Steph is floored by the baby news - it was the last thing she expected. She realises now that Lucas is a totally different person from whom he once was (before she began her prison sentence) and she is rocked to her core." Sergeant Matt Turner (Josef Brown) becomes curious about the reasons for Steph's return and he questions her about failing a previous parole application. Bonner told Brygel that Steph is not willing to reveal any details about her time in prison, although the audience knows something has happened in there.
Steph arrives in Ramsay Street with her family. The move helps her get over her failed relationship with Larry "Woody" Woodhouse (Andrew Curry), who is in jail for armed robbery. Steph immediately attracts the attentions of Toadfish Rebecchi and Lance Wilkinson (Andrew Bibby), but she falls for Drew Kirk (Dan Paris). Steph becomes good friends with Drew's girlfriend, Libby Kennedy (Kym Valentine). Steph and Libby are knocked off Steph's bike by Brendan Bell (Blair Venn). Steph comes away with torn ligaments, but Libby is left in a critical condition, which causes Steph to become depressed. Libby and Drew break up, but Steph is upset when Drew admits he still loves Libby. Steph then briefly dates Daniel Fitzgerald (Brett Tucker). Steph agrees to run away with Woody after he is released from prison. While she is getting drinks for them, Woody suddenly takes off in the car and crashes. Steph is prevented from pulling Woody out of the resulting fire. Steph begins dating Woody's friend, Mitch Foster (Hugh Sexton). However, Woody returns, having been in hiding, and Steph tells them both to leave. Mitch later robs her workplace and Steph is investigated by the police for the crime.
Steph begins a relationship with Marc Lambert (David Karakai) and they become engaged. During the wedding, Marc looks at Felicity and Steph realises that he loves her sister. Steph refuses to forgive Felicity and goes to stay with Libby and Drew. Steph befriends Summer Hoyland (Marisa Siketa) and her father, Max. Steph and Max agree to be friends and she starts dating Alex Argenzio (Marco Pio Venturini). However, Steph realises that she loves Max and they begin a relationship. After finding a lump in her breast, Steph is told that she has cancer. Steph struggles to cope with the news and ends her relationship with Max. They later reunite and Steph proposes to Max, who accepts. The couple get married in a park. Steph helps her brother, Jack (Jay Bunyan), through his drug problem. Steph sits with her grandfather, Charlie (Cliff Ellen), until he dies. Steph adjusts his pillow, just as Lyn and her brother, Michael (David Paterson), walk in. Michael accuses Steph of murder and she is arrested. Steph is found guilty and given a suspended sentence.
Max and Steph decide to adopt and they meet Kayla Thomas (Virginia Ryan), who decides to give them her unborn child. Kayla later decides to keep her baby. Steph discovers that she is pregnant. She starts having dreams about Drew and realises that her cancer has returned. Steph refuses treatment for her child's health. Steph gives birth to a son, who she and Max name Charlie. Steph then undergoes treatment for cancer and after radiotherapy, she is given the all clear. Max accidentally kills Cameron Robinson (Adam Hunter) and his behaviour changes. He admits himself to a psychiatric ward and later leaves town. Steph kisses Toadie and after he is shot, she confesses to Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) that she loves him. Max returns and Steph decides to give their marriage another chance, but they realise that things can not go back to how they were and Max leaves.
Toadie and Steph begin a relationship and Steph takes over Max's bar, renaming it Charlie's. Steph also wins a place on the local council. Toadie proposes, but Steph turns him down. She later changes her mind. During the wedding, Steph stumbles over her vows and Toadie calls the whole thing off. Steph then asks Libby and Ty Harper (Dean Geyer) to move in with her. Steph begins dating Jay Duncan (Charlie Clausen). During a picnic in a national park, a bush fire is started. Toadie becomes suspicious of Jay and he discovers that Jay had previously saved a few young mothers from fires. Jay takes Steph and Charlie to a cabin in the country and Steph discovers that Jay was responsible for the fires. She manages to sneak Charlie out of the house and Toadie rescues Steph. Jay is later arrested.
Steph decides that she wants to spend more time with her son and she sells Charlie's to Elle Robinson (Pippa Black), who installs Rebecca Napier (Jane Hall) as manager. Steph later returns to working at the garage with Lucas Fitzgerald. Steph meets Greg Michaels (Nick Farnell) online and they begin dating. They break up when Steph discovers he has a wife and he becomes jealous over her friendships with other men. Lyn returns to Ramsay Street and persuades Steph to buy Number 26. Steph develops feelings for Lucas. After seeing Libby kiss Lucas, Steph goes to Charlie's and runs into Dan. Dan kisses Steph and they have sex, which leaves them both feeling guilty. Lucas is involved in an accident and Steph supports him and encourages him to attend rehab. Lucas tells her that he loves her, but Steph rejects him. After Lucas professes his love for her again, Steph tells him she loves him too.
Steph suddenly leaves Ramsay Street and she tells Toadie that she is pregnant with Dan's child. Toadie agrees to help Steph and they tell their friends and family that they are back together. Steph's pregnancy is later revealed. Steph finds a lump in her breast and fears that her cancer has returned. She goes to the hospital for a biopsy. When Lyn tries to take control, Toadie suggests to Steph that they get married. Steph notices how upset Toadie is after he learns that his former girlfriend, Sonya (Eve Morey), is leaving. Steph tells Sonya to stay and reveals the truth about the wedding and the baby. Steph discovers that Dan has been involved in an accident and tells him about the baby. Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) records the conversation and plays it at Charlie's, just as Libby walks in. Libby is devastated and tells Steph to stay away from her. During an argument, Steph collapses from high blood pressure. She decides to stay with her father for a while and she gives birth to a baby boy. Steph hands the baby over to Dan, who names him Adam.
Steph runs into Woody and they catch up. Lyn worries that Steph is suffering from post-natal depression and tries to stage an intervention. Libby goes to find her and they talk, but Steph becomes angry and leaves on her motorbike. She hits Ringo Brown (Sam Clark) and he dies. Steph is charged with driving in a dangerous manner, driving under the influence of alcohol and culpable driving. Charlie goes missing during Halloween and he is found by Samantha Fitzgerald (Simone Buchanan). Sam reveals that she is back to prosecute Steph's court case and Steph asks Toadie to be her lawyer. Steph asks Toadie to keep her out of jail and to arrange joint custody of Adam. The jury find Steph guilty. Lucas asks Steph to run away with him, but she turns him down. Steph is then sentenced to six years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of two years. A few months later, Steph is moved to a low security prison in Bendigo.
Two and a half years later, Steph is released from jail on parole and she returns to Erinsborough. Lucas is surprised to see Steph and she tells him that Lyn has made her the new manager of Harold's Store. Steph also meets Lucas's new partner, Vanessa Villante (Alin Sumarwata), and learns that they have a child together. Steph reveals that Charlie is with Max and his new partner in Fiji. Steph meets with Sergeant Matt Turner to discuss her parole and psychiatrist appointments. When Matt questions why she was turned down for parole once before, Steph tells him that she was not ready, but she has learnt from her mistakes. Steph learns that Lucas has cancer. Steph encourages Lucas to keep the news from Vanessa until he learns more about his condition. However, when he gets good news, he tells Vanessa and Steph pretends that she did know first. Sonya comes to see Steph and asks her to talk with Toadie. Steph angrily tells Toadie that she will never forgive him for botching her defence and causing her to go prison, which made her lose everything she had.
Steph moves in with Karl and Susan and starts trying to win Lucas back. She tells Vanessa about Lucas' bike accidents, prompting Vanessa to ask Lucas to stop riding and causing tension within their relationship. Steph tells Karl that Max got full custody of Charlie, after Charlie became scared of her during a prison visit. Steph learns that Vanessa was once married and Lucas does not know, so she sends him a message pretending to be Vanessa's ex-husband. Lucas then calls off his wedding to Vanessa. Steph reveals to Toadie that she suffered a breakdown in prison and is taking medication. However, Steph stops taking her medication and suffers a psychotic break. Steph kidnaps Lucas and Vanessa's son, Patrick (Basquait Voevodin-Knack), believing that he is her son Adam. Lucas manages to talk Steph into handing Patrick back and she is arrested. After receiving treatment, Steph feels guilty about what she has done and asks Karl to pass on her apologies to Lucas and Vanessa. Toadie comes to visit her and Steph apologises to him too. She is later formally charged and Vanessa tells her not to come near her family ever again.
To coincide with the character's return to Neighbours in April 2013, the serial released six webisodes that feature Steph talking to a psychiatrist (Trudy Hellier) before her release from jail. Steph talks about a variety of issues and explains that there is someone in Erinsborough that she is going back for. The webisodes also provide an insight into Steph's actions upon her return. The webisodes were directed by Bonner's co-star Scott Major. He told a writer for Channel 5's Neighbours website that being part of Steph's exit storyline did not influence his approach to directing the webisodes. Major stated that he shot the webisodes differently from Neighbours, to show what it is like in Steph's head. He explained "I wanted viewers to be a little uncomfortable, make them feel they were intruding on these private conversations."
In June 2002, Steph came first in a poll run by Newsround to find viewers' favourite Neighbours character. She received 34.85% of the vote. At the 2008 Inside Soap Awards, Bonner earned a nomination for Best Actress and the storyline that saw Steph getting jilted at the altar by Toadie was nominated for Best Storyline. The following year, Bonner was nominated for "Sexiest Female". The episode in which Steph and Toadie fabricate a reconciliation to cover story up Steph's infidelity won the Australian Director's Guild Award in 2010. That same year saw Steph voted viewers favourite Neighbours character in a survey carried out by website Yahoo!. Yahoo!'s TV editor, Paul Johnston said: "Steph has beaten some classic soap favourites to take the lead spot as the nation's favourite Neighbours character". Johnston also added "By witnessing her develop from the tomboy with a passion for motorbikes to a loving mother she has been a regular in people's living rooms for over a decade".
A reporter for the Herald Sun placed Steph's discovery of her fiancé and sister's affair at number four on their list of Neighbours Top Ten moments. They said "Steph and Marc had a quick engagement, but in the meantime Marc fell in love with Flick. Flick tried but couldn't hide the fact that she also loved her sister's betrothed. Steph and Marc made it all the way to the altar, but after she said "I do", he replied: "I can't, I'm in love with your sister." Priceless". Robin Oliver writing for The Sydney Morning Herald said he was compelled to watch Steph and Max's wedding, because it was twenty minutes of "good fun". In a feature by Virgin Media dedicated to television "yummy mummies", Steph was placed fifth on the list. Virgin Media said "After several ups and downs and a battle with illness, Neighbours' glam mummy Steph (played by Carla Bonner), gave birth to baby Charlie in 2006".
Ruth Deller of television website Lowculture was negative towards the character, saying "She used to be awesome, way back when the Scully family arrived, but the departure of her whole family, her not-that-convincing relationships with Max and Toadie and her lack of useful storylines have meant she’s felt like a spare part on the street for ages". In July 2010, Deller placed Steph at number five on her list of worst characters of the last seven months. She said "Steph's decline over the past few years has been pretty heartbreaking for those of us who remember the sassy, pretty, smart young woman that she was when the Scully family first arrived on Ramsay Street. Since then, she's had a tedious love life, been miraculously cured of cancer (which in true Neighbours-style could definitely return if she had a baby and could then definitely return again if she had an abortion), been ruined by marriage to the insufferable Max Hoyland (who we still haven't forgiven for murdering CamRob), had an unbelievable romance with best mate Toadie and an even more unbelievable friendship with Libby (when clearly the characters hate each other, and it's more of a 'frenemy' thing)".
In April 2013, a Newcastle Herald reporter commented "As independent Steph Scully, Bonner was a fan favourite, leaving a gaping hole when she was bundled off to jail." They continued that Toadie should watch out because Steph has "a bone to pick with him about how he represented her in court."
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- Character profile at the Official AU Neighbours website
- Character profile at the Official UK Neighbours website