03 April 2018

"Plain Jane Superbrain" - Annie Jones Returns To Neighbours...

Annie Jones as Jane Harris in an Australian 1989 preview of an upcoming Neighbours episode. Wow! Those shoulder pads!

We don't have a TV service. Having decided that the BBC wasn't worth the licence fee years ago and that we resented being forced to pay for it, we gave up the telly. Well, not exactly. We watch DVDs. Seldom do we feel the need to venture beyond the early 1990s with our choice of viewing though.

As Big Brother and Beavis and Butthead came in, we went out.

Not that we're snobs. No, lovey, not us. We just thought that '90s TV grew more and more boring. Our TV tastes were wide and varied in the 1980s. Film on 4? Yum! The Beiderbecke Trilogy? Oh yes! Edge of Darkness? Ooh!

But we liked the soapy side too - we watched Crossroads to the end. And something else we enjoyed greatly was Neighbours, the Australian soap featuring Des, Daphne, Mrs Mangel, Scott and Charlene, Mike Young, Harold Bishop, Madge Ramsay, and 'Plain Jane Superbrain' - AKA Jane Harris, granddaughter of Mrs M.

Jane could easily have been a makeweight character - she had the old chestnut storyline of the ugly duckling becoming a swan bestowed on her - but Annie Jones invested Jane with a likeable warmth and sincerity. And we took the character to our hearts. She wasn't feisty and fascinating like Charlene. She was simply a nice young woman. But it was niceness without being boring.

Of course, Jane suffered heartache. Her on-off relationship with Mike Young was doomed, and a brief romance with an older man was even shorter. Then Jane fell for widower Des Clarke. And that wasn't to be either.

Finally, in 1989, Jane left for England, where newly-married Mrs Mangel had gone to live. Mrs M was ill. Jane went to be with her.

Intriguingly, Annie Jones suggested some of the storyline ideas for Jane's return to the Neighbours production team.

Jane, gifted academically and a sought after fashion model for a time, has spent the last twenty-nine years looking after Mrs Mangel. And some of Nan's ways have rubbed off on her.

We saw some Neighbours last year while on holiday in Cromer and were delighted to see Mrs Mangel's portrait, painted by Helen Daniels in 1987, featured in the plot.

Caused a lot of trouble did that portrait.

We wonder if its re-emergence could have something to do with Jane's return to Erinsborough? After all, Mrs Mangel would hardly be pleased to have discovered it was now on display at Lassiter's...

Whatever the reason for Jane's Ramsay Street comeback, our best wishes to Annie Jones. The goings-on in mid-to-late 1980s Erinsborough gave us much viewing pleasure, and Jane Harris was an essential part of the Neighbours brew. Our feelings towards the character are wrapped in great swathes of warmth and nostalgia.

We'll definitely be popping round to OUR neighbours' to see Annie's return episode.

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