A Triumphant final episode reminded us all why the show lasted so long.
NEIGHBOURS is a part of pop cultural history. It punctuated, accompanied and arguably shaped the societal landscape for a generation. I do not exaggerate that, too much. It started as yet another late night /early morning B list Ozzie soap: a follow up to the likes of SONS AND DAUGHTERS / YOUNG DOCTORS/ PRISONER CELL BLOCK H et al.
But then? Magic happened! 1987 ish.
Britain and its every child /teen, fell madly in love with NEIGHBOURS. BBC copped on and moved it to a twice daily slot: first viewing around Lunchtime; a repeat around 17:30 as a post school, pre homework, mid tea treat.
Absolute genius move! Kylie and Jason became a 1980s answer to Beatlemania. Cue every other actor from the soap trying to migrate to pop stardom, rather than simply doing the obligatory turn on the Panto circuit.
I will never forget Stefan Dennis’ DON’T IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD? Even if Mr Dennis probably wishes I would do so. 😉
HOME AND AWAY followed: a rival yet somehow, kind of kindred spirit soap to extend the post school / mid holiday entertainment. Frequently, the two shows would simply swap their actors around, it seemed.
We all started saying ‘no worries’, ‘rack off’ (a vanilla swear-word substitute ; presumably because ‘fuck’ was off limits?) and enjoying the cultural crossover.
In one of life’s little ironies, it is HOME AND AWAY that still stands, where NEIGHBOURS has fallen. Both soaps had their merits and legacies, of course. Notably, a list of Hollywood stars started their careers in one or other or both of the shows.
So: what went wrong?
How did a show once a staple of our lives, become yet another casualty of the television axe? Truth is? The rot had set in over twenty years ago. There was talk of bringing back some of the big names.
Those cameos never happened, until the series’ end the other day. Missed opportunity, perhaps? If one looks at the line-up assembled for the epic ending, it is clear that even one or two of the old crew could probably have saved the brand, had they returned, properly, even briefly, a few years previously?
The fact is that NEIGHBOURS was of its time. And also of its, space? As in, when BBC surrendered the title to Channel 5, a part of the anchor and soul was lost, arguably. The routine was gone.
As a soap, the USP was a simulation of family, community and vicarious delivery of teen romance. Once a generation (ie those watching as young people say 1987-2000 ish?) grew up? So, too, had the show outlived its own use.
Honestly: I never watched the show again, once I was 20. Ish. Though might have peeked. Secretly. On occasion. Just to check up, like. 😉
I mean, how could one not love the show, for all its limitations /eccentricities/inanities etc?
Karl and Susan Kennedy reminded one of their own dependable parents. I met Kimberley Davies and loved her (she was conspicuous by absence in the last ever episode; shame!). And I adored Izzy (Natalie Bassingthwaighte); Holly Valance et al.
Above all, I always warmed to the wholesome optimism that defined the brand. Compare that to the loathsome cancer of crime worship gangsterism which now pervades all British soap, c/o EASTENDERS. That too, had its time (1985-2005) yet crawls along, hopefully, to an eventual extinction, please God. I will be there, on the day it is axed and look forward to rejoicing.
CORONATION STREET tries to present an ITV based antidote. Some stalwart of soulful hope. But it isn’t. The writing, although well crafted, on occasion, feels unnatural, as though honed from wikipedia workshop training, with none of the organic charm or wit to match the show’s true spirit.
Class hatred is rife in all these shows, now, fostering an inverted snobbery whereby middle class = bad. NEIGHBOURS never went ‘there’ and thankfully, was axed before it might have been tempted to do so.
So yes, I watched its epic, bumper finale and did shed a tear. A real treat, mini movie of sorts. Like an Australian HIGH SOCIETY? Charming. Classy. Innocent. And, though a bit mean to poor old Dr. Clive (Geoff Paine)? They resisted the urge to do anything stupid like nuke the street/have aliens invade/kill everyone in a plague/imply every scene ever had been a dream of Bouncer the dog.
This final ep piece had bathos, pathos and oxymoronic depths in a charmingly timeless simplicity. Kids will study it in schools, hundreds of years, hence.
Standout feature? Well, it speaks volumes about Guy Pearce’s good nature and character, that he gave an entire episode of performance to this. Seriously, his was a front and centre role; not some phoned in clip. THAT is star quality, in every sense. Well done, sir.
KYLIE LOOKS ADORABLE! ‘Plain’ Jane is anything but, to the extent I wish they would give her some sort of restored spin off? Jane, Izzy, Kylie, Holly and co. In a house share. All girls. But serenaded, occasionally, by Paul Robinson/Stefan Dennis with ‘DON’T IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD?’. Ok. That’s enough.
G’DAY. G’Nite. No Worries. Rack Off 😉
To build your OWN future Ramsay Street?
And: City Maps
Or: Augmented World
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