An Ode To Neighbours
If you are a child of the Nineties, as I am, there is a strong possibility that you will have a special place in your heart for Neighbours. During the mid-Nineties, at 5.35pm – after CBBC and before The Simpsons – schoolchildren (and maybe some adults) across the nation would tune into BBC One to see what unlikely event had befallen the fictitious town of Erinsborough and it’s good (and sometimes pretty morally bankrupt) people. It was – it is – a comfort blanket in the shape of an ever-so-slightly ludicrous Australian soap opera.
So, it is completely understandable if you are feeling a little shaken at the news this week that the long-running drama, which first aired in the UK in 1986, might be bidding farewell to the UK owing to the show’s creators struggling to reach a new deal with its British broadcaster, Channel 5. Strewth.
OK, so I may have stopped watching Neighbours around the time I left university (thus, sadly, no longer living the kind of life that allowed for daytime television watching), and might not be up-to-date with the latest happening in the suburban cul-de-sac, but it’s been nice knowing that it’s always there – that the residents of Ramsay Street are still going about their business whether anyone’s bothered to turn on their TV to watch them or not.
While Neighbours might have lost some of the credibility and kudos we gave it when we were eight, it’s worth remembering that at its peak in 1990 (when Natalie Imbruglia was the star attraction) the show was watched by 21 million people. Twenty-one. Million. People. It really was beloved, even though the plotlines were more ridiculous than naming a character Toadfish, and most depended on at least one person suffering amnesia at any one time.
Still, once a Neighbours fan, always a Neighbours fan. Just look at Adele who, like any self-respecting British tourist, made the obligatory visit to the Erinsborough set during a break from her tour in Melbourne. Meanwhile, at the time of writing, almost 14,000 fans have signed a petition to keep Neighbours on our screens.
It’s fair to say that many of the cast (Toady, Harold Bishop, Karl Kennedy – I could go on) have achieved what you might call cult, rather than celebrity, status. But it’s easy to forget that the 31-year-old soap has played a part in forging the careers of global stars including Kylie Minogue, Liam Hemsworth, Russel Crowe and, more recently, Margot Robbie. Even Jason Donovan’s still going – Kylie’s former on-screen flame has just announced his ‘Jason and His Amazing Midlife Crisis’ tour. Tickets on sale now.
So, for the sake of its longstanding cast, those young starlets looking to break into showbiz as well as the safeguarding of a most precious Australian-British institution, I for one hope that Neighbours gets to live for a while longer yet.
See the show’s most famous alumni, below.