Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours. I should know as I’ve lived next more than my fair share of weirdos and inconsiderates.
Friday marks the end of an era as Neighbours is airs its final episodes after being axed back in March. During its time, the Channel 5 Aussie daytime soap opera has launched the careers of dozens of stars over the countless thousands of episodes that have aired 5 days a week during its 37 years.
I remember in the mid to late 1980’s everyone would rush home from school to watch Neighbours. It’s popularity grew quickly in such a way that literally half of the country was obsessed with. It’s what we talked about at school, one the way home. Our parents watched it, particularly my mother. My grandparents watched it and because the show was more popular here than in Australia and at the time largely financed by the BBC, its stars would often appear on BBC shows and many of them would set up home in and around London after they left the show.
After a change of programming strategy at the BBC, Neighbours left BBC1 15 or so years ago and moved to Channel 5 where it has remained to this day.
It’s hard to say what made Neighbours so popular. Suburban sunshine with generally low-key plots and likeable, often attractive young stars with plots that kept people gripped. Some of them plausible, some of them less so but nevertheless 20 million people in the U.K. watched it which is incredible for a programme that aired in the day-time.
I was one who watched it right from the start in the early years when the show went bankrupt and re-appeared with several different actors and intro sequences. Did the fearsome Mrs Mangel really have someone buried in her garden? Why was Paul Robinson so smarmy? How did Daphne give birth whilst wearing tights on a bench? All these things and more filled our day along with some occasionally terrific car crashes, explosions and other melodramatic events that would brighten up a dull day.
Generally speaking though there was no nudity, no violence and no bad language and people were just nice to each other with just the hint of excitement, disaster or sometimes outright weirdness every now and then.
Who of us whoever watched it can ever forget Bouncer and his dream? If you missed it, fear not because you can see it below and wonder for yourself what type of programme makes these rather far-out storylines.
Neighbours wasn’t always like that, I still remember Sky Bishop/Mangel getting accidentally shot dead when she went to sabotage a hunt as she was always passionate about the environment. How ahead of times was that to have a main character into environmentalism and dying for her beliefs decades before someone like Greta Thunberg even considered our planet.
That was just one of 64 fatalities on Neighbours including some shocking murders, no wonder some characters briefly returned as ghosts as one will in the very last episode! There have also been 17 babies born to slightly even things out. There have been 100 kidnappings and hostage situations and 35 natural disasters including a high profile tornado strike.
Though a few people died in plane crashes, 115 actually lost their lives in car crashes.
Neighbours was the breeding ground for so many well-known performers. Russell Crowe, Chris Hemsworth, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Natalie Imbruglia, Margot Robbie, Delta Goodrum, Guy Pearce, Holly Valance all went on to achieve worldwide fame with dozens of others making their names from Neighbours. I remember Alan Dale aka Jim Robison after suffering a dramatic and fatal heart attack ending up leading the Roman Star Empire in Star Trek: Nemesis of all things!
There have also been 39 weddings in Neighbours but one of course eclipse them all. What really made Neighbours popular was Scott and Charlene played by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, neighbours from families who didn’t get on at all who with several ups and downs, finally got hitched in an episode that brought much of Australia and Britain to a grinding halt. You can watch it on Youtube below.
Neighbours from the mid 1980’s to the turn of the century is one of the few undisputed happy moments of my life though as with any show that airs in the day-time, one that I like millions of others fell out of the habit of watching when going to work due to its decidedly off-peak hours.
Neighbours was never cool but it was very popular and an intrinsic part of growing up. Whether at school or on holiday, our activities pretty much revolved around being available to watch Neighbours.
I still remember my mother and I and my grandparents talking about various events on it and the long 6-7 hour car journey up to them when all you could hear on the radio was a medley of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Angry Anderson and various other Neighbours stars singing their hearts out…. and in the case of Especially For You, Kylie and Jason singing their hearts out together.
If you’re in Australia then you can watch the last episodes on Thursday on Channel 10. For those of us in the U.K. there are the usual Neighbours time slots at 1.45pm and 6pm and then a double episode finale on Friday at 9pm all on Channel 5.
I would definitely say Neighbours to people of my age was for a few years at least, one of the things that defined our growing up years but all good things must come to an end and whenever we see one of the former stars in the public eye, it always sends us back to sunny Ramsay Street around 1988.
If I ever get to Australia then of course I’d want to see Sydney Harbour, Melbourne Cricket Club but most of all, Ramsay Street. Thanks for all the good times and happy memories. The only thing I plan to be watching at all this week on the television will be the last 2 episodes of Neighbours when Scott and Charlene will return after over 30 years. Aww Neighbours, all the love that I have is especially for you.