At the age of 85, Ian Smith has been checking out retirement villages.

“It’s sort of like moving into God’s waiting room, isn’t it?” he tells TV WEEK. “Your last move.”

“I searched around and they were all full of old people and I’m a young person!”

Ian has returned as Harold Bishop in Neighbours. Unlike Ian, Harold has found a retirement village he wants to move into. It is Eirini Rising and managed by Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou).

“It’s rather pertinent to me,” Ian says. “It’s very much my interest at the moment.”

The veteran actor has been playing Harold on and off since 1987. He says he puts on the character “like an old cardigan”.

“I love the old bugger! I do look forward to coming back into the show because the kids keep me young.”

He admits that learning scripts is harder for him than it used to be.

“My memory is really suffering. I’ve never forgotten where I live, but I have been in my car and suddenly forgotten how to get to a place.”

Ian likes to keep himself busy by going fly fishing, taking walks in the bush with his metal detector and riding his e-bike on dirt roads. He doesn’t tend to go by himself any more.

“I’m a little unsteady on my feet and I don’t feel safe going fly fishing on my own because if I stumble and fall, they might find my body half a kilometre downstream,” he said.

“I feel safer having somebody with me. But I don’t want to tell them that’s the reason I want them with me, I want them to think that I just love them to death. It’s a lie!”