Giving some Neighbourly Love to this Aussie Soap…
On that Aussie soap, with at least a bus full of characters moving in and out of Ramsay Street.
Neighbours theme songs through the ages, Neighbours and photos © Fremantle
Before I met Darlin Husband, I was addicted to the soaps EastEnders (1985-) and Neighbours (1985-). Sadly Neighbours is not shown over here, EastEnders was, but now it’s not. The Finns are apparently more fans of Emmerdale (1972-) which is a soap I’ve never really got into both here or there.
EastEnders really needs no introduction. Many of you will know this soap as the usually ultra-depressing BBC British soap set in Laandon’s Eastend. Where in a nutshell, it rained, had maudlin Christmas episodes and from the first episode, the constant – now probably haunting presence – of Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt). This character born in 1969, making him 50 this year.
However Neighbours, the Australian soap was that little bit of TV sunshine in a dreary cold and wet Scottish day. When this shown in the UK, the BBC repeated it twice. Once at lunchtime and repeated at teatime. I usually watched both I was that
sad addicted. Much, much later the Beeb sold the show to Channel 5.
Many of the cast also starred in other Australian shows which hit the UK. Such as A Country Practice (1981-93), The Flying Doctors (1986-92), Prisoner: Cell Block H (1979-86) and Sons and Daughters (1982-87). Some stars also left – or came from – for that other British teatime Australian soap Home and Away (1988-).
It also boasted a few Aussie actors and actresses you may be familiar with including Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy) who made his debut in The Love Boat (1977-87), Vivien Gray (Mrs Mangel) in Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Tom Oliver (Lou Carpenter) in The ABBA Movie (1977).
This soap was set in an Australia where it never seemed to have bad weather (but only did if it needed to for the plot) and a mainly photogenic cast of young things, a few nubile and hot 20 – 40 something-year-olds, of all shapes and sizes so everyone would have someone to fancy.
It’s quite telling my first crush (at 16) for this show when it started with Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine), (the young hot doctor), and when I last saw this show in 2008 it was Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher), also the doctor and at least a few decades older.
It was 22 minutes of soap escapism telling of the life of the inhabitants of Ramsay Street, a small cul-de-sac in Erinsborough. Needless to say like both Knots Landing (1979-93) and Brookside (1982-2003) characters – and their families – moved in and moved out all the
bloody time as the storylines demanded.
Ramsay Street usually had at least one doctor and teacher living there. The doctor just to help out if a neighbour was injured, mowed over or about to be killed off with some grim disease. The teacher to teach all the kids and provide “advice” which was given in a nice friendly usually unpatronising way. So you at home could benefit too.
As there have been 8,110 episodes in this show so far (til 24th May 2019), thus making it impossible to give you the full Neighbours story. As it would take an entire blog to do it, which I’m sure some superfans did. Also living here, means I’ve missed out on 10 years of storylines.
The show also boasted guest stars such as Dave Bautista, David Walliams, Matt Lucas and Clive James. The show also led to a ZX Spectrum game spin-off where a
pixelated blocky looking Scott Robinson zoomed about on a skateboard.
Erinsborough was a place where everyone lived, loved and worked. With the nearby Lassiters Complex, it also boasted one store, one coffee shop, bar and a nearby school. The show also with storylines that could be identified by its audiences such as residents with multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder and teenage pregnancy.
The soap celebrated its 6000th episode with whodunnit it with his evil businessman, Paul Robinson, being pushed from the Lassiter’s hotel mezzanine. With a Who Pushed PR storyline, and everyone in the show a suspect after this attempt on Paul’s life.
The show also led to more than a few record deals for its cast members easily categorised as the good, the bad and the forgettable. However many of you may recall Angry Anderson singing love theme from Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue)’s wedding also a no 1 hit. Along with Donovan and Minogue’s no 1 song, Especially For You.
The show had a huge following in the UK, and one of my early claims to fame was meeting my then Neighbours crush, Stefan Dennis – who played the previously mentioned Paul Robinson – at a Scottish nightclub. He made such an impression on me I fainted. In my defence, I was about 18. Dennis of the one-hit wonder that was Don’t It Make You Feel Good and later fame in Scottish Soap River City (2002-).
The show also was responsible for bringing a number of Aussie slang words into the UK teens vocabulary. More outlandish spin-off episodes appear solely on the web including storylines including zombies and time travel.
But the most bizarre episode so far, featured Bouncer the dog (who owned him I can’t remember) and his dream, told from his viewpoint. Apparently, some of the young and older members of the cast had dreams too.
These including Margot Robbie, Chris Hemsworth, Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Jesse Spencer and Alan Dale. After these cast members left, they went the extra mile – and not just by catching that Melbourne bound bus – and ended up in Hollywood.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦😦😦😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: 0 /10