Newest Review: ... wedding, the meddling Mrs. Mangel and Madge and Harold's romance. My interest in Neighbours hit its peak whilst I was in seconda... more
Neighbours; who needs irritating neighbours like this
Member Name: bilbob20
Advantages: It was okay back in the 80s
Disadvantages: Its been rubbish ever since
I saw this the other day for the first time in approximately 50 years. It is more diabolical than I could have imagined. Neighbours was the show of choice for my classmates back in the late 80s. It wasn't any good then either. However, it did have a couple of redeeming qualities. It focused on families back then, and everybody seemed to have a place on Ramsay Street. Now, it would appear that its just a mish mash of random characters, in much the same way as Hollyoaks, except not as craptastic or remotely interesting.
Neighbours began in 1985 on Australian television, and was axed a few months later. Focusing on the Ramsays (which the street was apparently named after, for some bizarre reason) and the Robinsons, it was created by Grundy television. A few short minutes after its axing, another channel saved it, and god help us, its still showing around the world to a fraction of its former audience.
Back in the day, Paul Robinson was the JR Ewing of Erinsborough, and is still playing that part. Nobody's tried to off him with a gun, but I believe he's been through a jail sentence, a plane crash, many fires, and a dodgy short lived singing career. Thats the norm for the Ramsay Street people, to go off and release records. Charlene has done it, Scott then done it, then Henry, then Madge and Harold, before handing the singing baton down to the big lipped twins, that Kiss Kiss woman, and Natalie Umbrella.
The stories were simple, which was just as well, because it was a staple of early afternoon and tea time television schedules in many countries. Rumour has it that it was moved from a morning slot to tea time because mobs of kids were jumping school to catch it. Clearly they didn't have VCR's in their home. So, for twenty years, Neighbours successfully played out from BBC, before they lost the contract to the high brow Channel 5, which is known for its quality television.
Apparently, the show now plays to an audience of half a million. Compare that to the 21 million viewers who saw Kylie Minogue waddle up the aisle in a dress twice the size of her to marry Jason Donovan, whose hair was even bigger than Minogue's frock. That will indicate just how much this show has lost the plot and its audience. Yet, Australian tv makers refuse to axe it because it still pays for itself and fits in with the regulations they are required to meet to keep on air.
Okay, so now about some of the storylines I can recall. Originally, the Ramsays and Robinsons were supposedly enemies, although things initially seemed rather cosy. This was brought to the forefront by the arrival of Mad Madge, the husky voiced vixen who appeared to be mother of the year, despite dumping her kids in Queensland. With her came pompous Harold, who only bowed out recently, played with aplomb by Australian veteran Ian Smith. Anne Charleston was the lovable hag Madge.
Anyway, when she turned up, her tomboy daughter Charlene soon followed, punched neighbour Scott in the face, fell in love with him, fell out with him, punched him again, was sent away to work in Queensland, returned half an hour later, moved in with him, got blown up in a caravan explosion, before marrying him, then discovering he had an affair with her best friend, before buggering off to Queensland for good. Scott and Charlene's antics remained the highlight of the early years.
Across the street, daft Des married dippy Daphne, who couldn't have babies, but got pregnant anyway, before being sued by the local busy body Mrs Mangle. In a rare well acted and well written storyline in Neighbours, Daphne remained in a coma for about a year before whispering something to her hubby and then dying, after being run off the road by a couple of thugs.
Back to Mrs Mangle. She was the manipulative granny of plain Jane, super brain. Jane was forever apologising for old Granny Mangle, who saw her husband off after discovering he was cheating. We never got to see her husband until long after she had gone, but rumour had it in the early days that she had bumped him off, aided by the discovery of a gun in the back garden. She moved to England to marry some elderly gentleman, and is apparently still there, despite being 136 years old now.
The Robinson clan were made up of Helen Daniels, the wise old gran of the cul-de-sac, who oversaw everything and everybody. She lived with son in law Jim, who raised his four children after the death of his wife. The children were the aforementioned Paul and Scott, as well as Lucy, who was played by at least half a dozen actresses in a very short time, and Julie, who got thrown off the top of a hotel by her wilful step daughter Debbie.
At least this lot had spirit, even if they didn't have much in the way of meaty storylines or acting ability. Back then, the sets wobbled, but it all looked very pretty and made for pleasant television. Audiences stalked the stars round shopping centres, and rushed out to buy their every book, record and hair extensions. Then, they all left to pursue more serious careers. Kylie Minogue can be seen at a concert hall near you. Melissa Bell can be seen at a knocking shop near you.
Characters that also managed to add a little colour to Ramsay Street were Caroline and Christina, who came as a pair, played by real life twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeny. The two of them had one acting gene between them, but at least they had those lips. Part of Neighbours memorabilia was a set of Blakeny lips that you could lick and stick to the window for your own amusement.
We also got treated to laugh-a-minute Melanie, who literally sounded like a cat being strangled. She married somebody whose wife died in an animal rights protest. Elsewhere, Lou Carpenter came to the street to win back the heart of his old flame Madge. Everybody was after her, you know. The way was cleared when old Harold fell off a cliff, bequeathed his specs to Madge, and then turned up with the very fictional and very convenient illness amnesia.
Years later, when people were still watching, Helen died in her arm chair, and Madge got cancer. Cancer is not something to be made light of, so how this flimsy badly written show thought they could pull it off is beyond me. Dont get me wrong, Anne Charleston gave it some welly, but the BBC were having a laugh when they stuck up cancer help line numbers at the end of the airing of this show. Surely, nobody felt moved or saddened by such a blatantly bad example of somebody suffering from this terrible illness.
That was really the last time I watched Neighbours, as I grew up then. The episode the other day only highlighted how much more rubbish it has become. The sets still wobble, none of the actors can act, the characters all look and act the same, and there is not an ounce of individuality or originality left on the show. I'm not a fan of Home and Away either, but on the rare occasion's that I'm home from work that early, I noted that it is at least moving with the times, reasonably well acted, and attempts to provide proper adult drama to enjoy.
The actors (???) from Neighbours who have made a notable departure from the street to other things are few and far between, although many tried. I would never mock the lovely Kylie, as I'm a huge fan of hers, I'm just glad she disassociated herself from this rabble early on. Guy Pearce has had a fairly successful career in excellent films such as LA Confidential, Memento, and Priscilla; Queen Of The Desert. Jason Donovan had a fairly admirable recording career for somebody who can barely sing a note in tune, then got hooked on drugs and is now doing panto.
Natalie Imbruglia had some relative success as a somewhat alternative pop singer, but seems to have opted for a quiet life in recent years. Anne Charleston was on Emmerdale til not long ago. It pays the bills. Alan Dale has appeared on American shows such as Nip/Tuck and Ugly Betty. And Stefan Dennis showed up in Scotland on our very own laughable drama River City before bogging off back to Ramsay Street to become JR Ewing once again.
Whilst Neighbours was never brilliant tv to start with, it did capture the imagination of kids and parents the nation over. If there were any justice, it would have been thrown off the telly when it was still relatively well thought of. Instead, it continues to roll out random characters, unrelated to anybody else on the show, and taking up nightly half hour slots that would be better served to show something else. I'm in the camp for "Bring back Crossroads". However, if that doesn't work out, there's always re-runs of Fawlty Towers.
Summary: A dated show well past its sell by date. AXE IT NOW!