|Portrayed by||Madeleine West|
|First appearance||3 February 2000|
|Introduced by||Stanley Walsh (2000)
Jason Herbison (2017)
Dione "Dee" Bliss is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Madeleine West. The actress received the role three days after securing an agent. West deferred her law degree studies to take the part. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 3 February 2000. The character proved popular with viewers and producers soon promoted her to the main cast. West decided to leave Neighbours at the end of her contract in 2003. She filmed her final scenes in April and Dee made her last appearance on 29 July 2003. West reprised her role in September 2016 and Dee will make her on-screen return on 20 January 2017.
West was enrolled in university studying law, when she decided to try acting and found an agent. She secured the role of Dee three days later. West said "It happened pretty quickly. I got the agent, then I went to the audition for Neighbours and luckily I got the part. I know it doesn't always happen that quickly for people, so I consider myself fortunate." West then deferred her law degree studies after she was offered the role. Dee became an audience favourite, so the Neighbours producers decided to make her a regular cast member and offered West a new contract.
In July 2002, West was struck by a bus. She needed re-constructive plastic surgery and was written out of Neighbours. West returned to the show a month later and said she was pleased to be back, but found it to be tiring. She said, "It was actually really good because it felt so nice to be back at work and to be not just lying in bed and doing nothing. It was so good to see everyone, so that really kept me occupied. But, I found that weekend that I just crashed and burned."
Shortly after her arrival, Dee begins dating Joel Samuels (Daniel MacPherson) and their relationship progresses slowly. MacPherson said their relationship was "a little more lust than love" and when Dee introduces him to her best friend, Carrie Clark (Vanessa Rossini), Joel is instantly attracted to her. Joel tries to keep his feelings for Carrie a secret, as he does not want to hurt Dee, but MacPherson commented that it was not an easy thing to do and the truth would come out in the end. West emphasised with Dee, saying that her character was "besotted" with Joel, so to find out he is attracted to Carrie would be an awful moment for her. Joel dates Carrie in secret and tries to choose between the two women, but Dee later catches him and Carrie in the pool at Number 30 and breaks up with him. Joel and Dee eventually reconcile, but their relationship is tested again by the arrival of Joel's father Bernie Samuels (Sean Scully). Bernie flirts with Dee, leaving her "just the slightest bit uncomfortable".
In 2001, Dee was paired with local doctor Darcy Tyler (Mark Rafferty). Dee and Darcy's relationship becomes strained and Rafferty explained that Darcy was looking for some sympathy, as he had problems at the surgery, but Dee was "taking a harder line" instead of being supportive. Rafferty also said, "Darcy feels that his enthusiasm and hers don't quite match." Darcy seeks advice from Dee's friend Teresa Bell (Krista Vendy), who suggests that he does something romantic for Dee, so he buys them ballet tickets. However, Dee "brushes him off" and suggests that he takes Tess to the ballet instead. Darcy soon began an affair with Tess. While attending a fishing competition, Dee finds Darcy and Tess kissing inside his truck. Of the scene, West commented, "They are so caught up in each other that they don't even notice that she's there." Unsure how to react, Dee decided to leave the competition early. Dee confides in Joal and Toadie, who are surprised that she did not confront Darcy and Tess.
West explained that Dee wanted revenge and that would serve as her therapy. When Darcy came to see her, Dee pretended everything was okay, as she knew that it would be worth it when she exposed him and Tess as adulterers. West enjoyed the challenge that the plot brought her, saying "I was shocked when I first read the storyline, but I thought it was so dramatic that two best friends would be divided by a man." The actress also hoped that the storyline would have a positive impact on her character, as it was the second time she had been betrayed by her partner, following Joel's affair with her Carrie. West called Dee "too trusting" and thought she would be a changed person at the conclusion of the storyline.
Following the end of her relationship with Darcy, Dee learned she was pregnant with his child. An Inside Soap writer observed that her reaction was "one of shock and horror". With support from her friends, Dee accepts the pregnancy, but does not tell Darcy. Shortly after, Dee slips on some water and falls, landing hard on her stomach. She is rushed to the hospital, where Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) informs her that she has suffered a miscarriage. West stated that Dee is "understandably devastated" by the news. She continued, "As a paediatric nurse, she loves children, and obviously it's deeply upsetting for any woman to lose her own child." While she is recovering, Darcy arrives at the hospital to begin his shift and West added that the last thing Dee needed was "a run-in" with Darcy.
In March 2003, West announced that she was to leave Neighbours after her contract expired. She filmed her final scenes in early April. In her final storyline, Dee married her housemate and friend Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) in a "romantic ceremony", which ended in tragedy when Toadie accidentally drove their car off a cliff and into the sea. Dee's body was not found and Toadie was forced to accept that she had died. He initially blamed himself for causing her death. In 2014, series producer Jason Herbison admitted that he was asked every year if the show was going to bring back Dee. He told Bridget McManus and Scott Ellis of The Age that he was unsure if West would return to the role, and added that the writing team would have to come up with a different plot to the one that brought Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) back in 1996, following his disappearance in 1991.
On 15 September 2016, Tiffany Dunk of News.com.au reported that West had reprised her role thirteen years after Dee's supposed death. West returned to filming that same week, with the role continuing through to January 2017. Of her decision to return, West stated "It is a very rare and wonderful thing when an actor has the opportunity to step back into the shoes of a character they created, even more so when that character had not been seen for some 13 years, and was one as beloved as Dee Bliss. For me, this return to Neighbours is something of a homecoming, to the place where I took my first tentative steps into the entertainment industry, and where I truly learnt my craft."
In an interview with Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy, West said she had been asked to return to the show several times, but she had always been busy with her family and other acting work. When Dee and Toadie's wedding was voted viewers' second favourite Neighbours storyline for the 30th anniversary, West felt "honoured" and thought her return would be a chance to give something back to the fans, as well as allow her the chance to finish Dee's story. It was important to West that Dee's return storyline was plausible and while she was not initially aware of all the details, she thought that it was "really topical" and "juicy". She also speculated that Toadie would go through a range of emotions upon seeing Dee, including remorse and happiness. She continued, "There's going to be some really interesting and hard-hitting scenes for us both to play, along with everyone else in Ramsay Street who will feel the repercussions of Dee's return." West added that she would be filming for "a reasonable chunk of time" and that "the door is always left open..."
West later told Holly Byrnes of The Daily Telegraph that she would be back for fourteen weeks. She also confirmed that Dee would definitely be back, and is not "a ghost, nor is she a figment of Toadie's imagination and she wasn't abducted by aliens." West added that she had plans to write and direct for Neighbours later in 2017. In the 2016 season finale episode, Toadie was shown a photograph of a woman that looked like Dee, leaving him with the possibility that Dee is alive. A trailer showcasing upcoming storylines showed Toadie appearing to meet Dee face to face. During the first episode of 2017, Toadie was shown to be "haunted" by dreams featuring Dee. Dee's return scenes will air on 20 January 2017, as she comes face to face with Toadie on Ramsay Street.
Dee and her friend Vanessa Bradshaw (Julieanne Tait) meet Joel Samuels (Daniel MacPherson) and Toadfish Rebecchi in a bar. Joel pretends to be an Argentine football player, while Toadie pretends to be his lawyer. The girls play along with the charade, telling them that Dee is a model and Vanessa is a fashion designer. Dee and Vanessa go out to dinner with Joel and Toadie, but leave them in the restaurant without money to pay the bill. Dee is reunited with Joel when she comes to collect her younger sister, Cecile (Molly McCaffrey), from Ramsay Street. Dee and Joel meet at the local pub and decide that they want to get to know one another. They begin dating, but break up when he also dates her friend Carrie Clark (Vanessa Rossini). Dee agrees to give their relationship another go, but it is tested when Joel's father Bernie Samuels (Sean Scully) flirts with Dee, and her former boyfriend, Max Crawford (Simon Gleeson), tries to get back with her.
The couple play a series of practical jokes on one another. This comes to a climax when Joel fakes a letter from a noted art gallery, asking to put on an exhibition of Dee's work. He enlists his friend Malcolm Kennedy (Benjamin McNair) to pose as a distant relative, who is interested in Dee's paintings. Upon finding out that it was a joke, Dee breaks up with Joel. She moves into Number 32 Ramsay Street with Teresa Bell (Krista Vendy) and begins a relationship with local doctor Darcy Tyler (Mark Raffety). When Number 32 is put up for sale, Tess and Dee try to buy it, but are outbid. Dee then moves into Number 30, with Toadie and Joel. She breaks up with Darcy after learning he is having an affair with Tess. Dee finds out she is pregnant, but miscarries after a fall. Dee and Tess later repair their friendship and Dee reconciles with Joel. The relationship does not last, as Joel leaves on a diving expedition. She briefly dates new housemate Stuart Parker (Blair McDonough) and then his army friend Ray Milsome (Tom Meadmore).
Dee realises she has feelings for Toadie and they eventually begin dating. Darcy conspires to break Toadie and Dee up; first by claiming to have turned over a new leaf and then by playing them off against each other by pretending to be a sensitive confidant to Dee, and a drinking buddy for Toadie. He also learns Dee was married and invites her former husband, Darren Turner (Daniel Fletcher) to a charity ball. Darcy's plan is successful and he and Dee briefly get back together, until she learns that he robbed his aunt and uncle to pay illegal gambling debts. Dee and Toadie eventually reconcile and they get engaged. In the lead up to the wedding, Dee clashes with Toadie's mother Angie Rebecchi (Lesley Baker) and becomes a bridezilla. Dee and Toadie marry in front of their family members, friends and neighbours. As they are driving off together, Toadie and Dee take their eyes off the road to kiss, causing Toadie to lose control of the car. It veers off a cliff and crashes into the sea. Toadie manages to escape the car, but Dee's body is never recovered, despite efforts from rescue teams, and she is presumed dead.
For her portrayal of Dee, West earned a nomination for Most Popular New Female Talent at the 2001 Logie Awards. In June 2002, Dee came fifth in a poll run by Newsround to find viewer's favourite Neighbours character. She received 9.37% of the vote. Dee and Toadie earned a nomination for Best Couple at the 2003 Inside Soap Awards. Jim Schembri of The Age said Dee was "Ramsay Street's reigning blonde beauty." While the Newcastle Herald called her "effervescent." The BBC said Dee's most notable moments were "When Darcy discovered she was secretly pregnant to him and had lost the child" and "Being killed on her wedding day."
The episode featuring Dee's death earned writer Shane Porteous the Australian Writers' Guild award for Best Episode in a Television Serial in 2003. In 2007, Australian newspaper the Herald Sun placed Dee's death from the car accident at number three on their list of Neighbours Top Ten moments. They said, "One of the more dramatic deaths was of Dee, played by Madeleine West. One of the soap's most loved characters, Toadie, was having the time of his life after marrying Dee, but tragedy struck as they drove off to their honeymoon, probably in Mildura. As Toadie leaned over to kiss Dee, he lost control of the car and drove off a cliff into the ocean. Toadie managed to get out of the car, but despite his anguished search, Dee's body was never found". The Daily Telegraph placed Dee and Toadie's wedding at number nine on their list of "Top 10 TV weddings". They said, "Happiness turns to tragedy when Toadie (Ryan Maloney) and Dee (Madeleine West) drive off a cliff on their wedding day and she is killed. He watches as her veil drifts away in the wind."
Sarah Megginson of SheKnows placed Dee and Toadie's wedding and her death on her list of "Most Memorable Neighbours Moments". She said viewers "beamed when the wedding celebrant announced that Dee and Toadie were married", but knew something was about to happen. She added "Toadie lost control of the car. They fly off a cliff and plunge into the ocean below ... and Toadie loses his bride mere hours into their marriage."
Daniel Kilkelly of Digital Spy expressed his surprise at Dee's return, saying "it's the Neighbours news we never thought we'd hear and we couldn't be more excited about it". He added "we can hardly believe it either, if we're honest."
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