03 April 2009

Neighbours: '80s Tales From Ramsay Street - Part 2

Charlene Mitchell - Kylie Minogue - as she appeared in an '80s set of "Neighbours" opening titles. Some of us sang "Neigh-BORES!" to the theme tune, but huge numbers of us loved it really. Proof? The monthly BARB ratings for August 1989 show "Neighbours" was at number one with 16.3 million viewers. Incredibly, the 1989 monthly BARB ratings also show that "Neighbours" got 20.1 million viewers in April. Not bad for a "little" daytime show!

Complementing the Carl Ruhen novelisations of the "Neighbours" series storylines were a couple of books based on the past histories of the show's central families - the Ramsays and the Robinsons. Book two, "The Robinsons - A Family In Crisis!" by Valda Marshall (1989) is seen here, and covered the tragic events of 1975 when Jim Robinson lost his wife Anne, just after the birth of the couple's second daughter, Lucy. The cover shows the Robinsons as they were in the late 1980s.

As Shane Ramsay (Peter O'Brien) and Julie Robinson (Vikki Blanche) looked on, Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) married a plumber's mate called Terry Inglis (Maxine Klibingaitis). In the past, Terry had been involved with some very shady characters indeed and was plagued by one of them for some time. The "gentleman" in question was one Charles Durham (Ross Thompson). He turned up during Terry and Paul's wedding - his motive to secure an incriminating tape recording which Terry had in her possession. Durham decided that Terry must die, but Daphne Lawrence was nearly killed instead when she borrowed Terry's coat and was mistaken for her. Terry ended up shooting Durham dead. When Paul became suspicious, she shot him too. Terry went to prison and Paul recovered. At least physically.

Embittered by his experience with Terry, Paul immersed himself in a business career with the Daniels Corporation, owned by his grandmother's adopted daughter, Rosemary Daniels (Joy Chambers). A second marriage, this time to work colleague Gail Lewis (Fiona Corke), took place simply to help clinch a deal with Japanese businessman Mr Udagawa (Lawrence Mah). But genuine love grew between Paul and Gail and, despite problems when Gail discovered that she was adopted and Rob Lewis (Ernie Bourne) was not her natural father, plus the knowledge that a baby would be impossible without IVF treatment, Paul and Gail knuckled down to make things work.
But it all ended in tears.
Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) was one of the rocks of Ramsay Street - a respected member of the community, who, with mother-in-law Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy), had brought up his four children after the death of his wife. After a few brief romantic encounters, Jim met and fell in love with Dr Beverly Marshall (Lisa Armytage). The pair married and all seemed set fair for the new Mr and Mrs Robinson, but...

... of course it wasn't. Jim and Beverly's marriage underwent great strain as Beverly's desire to have a child of her own rose to the surface. The marriage also survived a change of actress in the wifely role - as Shaunna O'Grady took over as Beverly. Finally, Jim and the good doctor split up.

Todd and Katie Landers (Kristian Schmidt and Sally Jenson), Beverly's nephew and niece, turned up in Ramsay Street for their aunt's wedding. Their plan to use the occasion to run away and escape their parents, whose marriage was going through a rough patch, was soon revealed. Jim and Beverly took them in until the situation at home improved. Katie's stay was relatively brief, but Todd grew up in Ramsay Street, remaining in the Robinson household long after his aunt's departure.
Helen Daniels lost at sea with the dentist?! Creating daffy story lines was great fun - the 1988 "Neighbours" board game.

Des Clarke (Paul Keane), probably the most likeable bank manager in soap history, got to marry the stripper from his stag (or "bucks") night, Daphne Lawrence (Elaine Smith). The first wedding did not go according to plan - the bridal car was hijacked by a robber in a gorilla costume. Mind you, the bride and her party had insisted he climb aboard, thinking it was Danny Ramsay (David Clencie), running to the church after delivering a gorilla-gram! Happily, Des and Daphne's second attempt at becoming Mr and Mrs was successful.

Daphne continued to run the coffee shop, and was a good friend and neighbour to all. When the Clarkes were blessed with a son, Jamie, the whole street was thrilled for them.

Then, Daphne learned that her estranged father, Allen (Neil Fitzpatrick), was terminally ill. She took the decision to go and look after him, taking Jamie with her, in an attempt to heal past rifts and to get to know her father. After Allen had died, Daphne was returning to Ramsay Street with her good friend Gail Robinson, who had been giving her some emotional support. The car was involved in an accident - Gail emerged virtually unscathed, but Daphne was seriously injured and went into a coma.

Des sat by her bedside at the hospital, convinced that she would regain consciousness...

But when she did, it was only to answer Des's repeated pledges of love for her: "I love you too, Clarkey."

Then she died.

Eileen Clarke (Myra De Groot) and Nell Mangel (Vivean Gray) were busybodies extraordinaire - members of the local bowls club, and loyal members of the congregation at the local church. The Rev Sampson, played by Howard Bell, appeared in several late '80s episodes.
Eileen and Nell wasted no opportunity to stick their noses into what did not concern them. Mrs Mangel even had a brief spell as agony aunt "Dear Georgette" in a local newspaper!

Of the two, Eileen was the most good hearted, although we must remember Mrs Mangel's devotion to granddaughter Jane (Annie Jones) and the fact that she was befriended by Bouncer, the lovable and highly intelligent Labrador. Perhaps she wasn't all bad!
Eileen's husband, Malcolm (Noel Trevarthen), had walked out on her many years before, so she was shocked to learn that the man was in Erinsborough in 1988 and had been seeing Des, the son from their marriage. She was positively rocked on her heels to discover that Sally Wells (Rowena Mohr), who had worked alongside her at the coffee shop, was Des' half-sister, the product of an affair years before.

Hurt and dismayed, Eileen retreated from the situation, but was eventually won over by Des and Malcolm. Very soon, she and Malcolm were planning to remarry! Sadly, Malcolm let her down on the day - leaving Eileen devastated.

To read more '80s Actual Neighbours stuff, please click on the "Neighbours" label below.

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