Neighbours – A Rough Primer

I must come clean to the fact that I appeared, as myself, in two episodes of Neighbours in 1998. I flirted with Susan and beat up Toadie.

If Neighbours dropped off your radar at some point, the nearest reference point to tune in again would be the fact that there is a character called Daniel (played by Adelaide actor Tim Phillips), who is the adult son of the characters Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue). He lives in a luxury hotel called Lassiter’s with his uncle Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis). Daniel is in a relationship with the quite stunning Amber, who cheated on her boyfriend Josh to be with him. Josh’s parents are Brad and Terese (Paul’s sister). They are neighbours with Amber’s parents Lauren and Matt. A major plot point of recent months has been the fact that Brad and Lauren had a child together before they each got married to their respective partners. They had been told the child was stillborn but learned that was untrue. The now adult child, Paige Novak, had also drifted into Ramsay Street and eventually the news burst out like a hot pimple exploding over the street. The players in the drama are all crawling from the wreckage at the moment. Neighbours pumps out five half-hour episodes a week and is broadcast on Eleven – the digital outlet for Channel Ten’s ‘off Broadway’ stuff. It goes out against all the other commercial channels’ current affairs and news shows. It is still shown all around the world and is undoubtedly one of Australian television’s most successful shows. It has a website and a Facebook page where plot teasers are given out and actors’ interviews are available. Previous episodes can also be accessed. They use Twitter very effectively, ending each segment of the show, as it goes to an ad break, with a hashtag question for viewers to respond to. The tweets are full of interest and emotion and are often quite hilarious. The show is filmed in what was – or what is left of – the Channel Ten studios in Nunawading. The major set pieces are the luxury resort/Hotel Lassiter’s, the café (started by Harold), the various houses, the garage and the high school. Exteriors are shot at a nearby cul-de-sac, which has busloads of UK tourists regularly driving through and stopping for photos. (The bus hilariously stops at a service station where Neighbours memorabilia is kept in a storage cage and the tourists can take home a bit of Ramsay street.) Stefan Dennis has been in the show for what must be the longest time. All his adult life? His character Paul Robinson suffered a leg injury in the early 2000s in a bomb explosion. He was involved in a murder (still undiscovered?) and, at the moment, is in severe depression as a result of the shooting of his niece Kate at her wedding in the park. Susan and Karl Kennedy are also long time residents of Ramsay Street. Karl has the distinction of being the only entertainment figure to be given a positive mention in Mark E Smith, from The Fall’s, book, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith. I must come clean to the fact that I appeared, as myself, in two episodes of Neighbours in 1998. I flirted with Susan and beat up Toadie. Then drove off in my MG. Toadie, played by Ryan Moloney, apparently started as a runner for the show and has also spent his entire adult life on the street. Toadie is now a lawyer and married, after several false starts, to Sonya. (Sonya has a murky history of drug and/or gambling addiction, which is always threatening to bubble to the surface again.) The vampish Naomi, who only seems to like married men, has tested their relationship. (Much to the disdain of her mother, Sheila, played by Colette Mann.) Though she has just, as I write, boffed young Josh in the lift at Lassiter’s. Other characters include Kyle (pronounced Koil) and his partner, the country blow-in, Georgia; Chris the gay mechanic, Brennan the ex-cop and widower to Kate, and the younger set of Callum, Bailey and Imogen. Neighbours runs a tight ship and two or three story lines weave in and out each week. Characters appear consecutive nights and then may go back to the bench for a spell. Consider this a primer to a long running show. As British comic Max Miller was wont to say, of himself, “There’ll never be another…” @davegraney

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