I was very sorry to read about the axing of the long-running Australian soap Neighbours. I haven't watched in many years, but the show was such an incredible hit when it was first shown here in England in October 1986 that I, as a young twenty-something, was swept along and thoroughly enjoyed the tales from Ramsay Street for the first three or four years.The Robinsons meet Paul's fiancée, Terry Inglis (Maxine Klibingaitis). Oh dear.
The show is stamped on my memories of the 1980s.
Here's a 'little' run through of my personal Neighbours legends...
(Takes deep breath):
I will never forget Elaine Smith as dependable, straight talking and lively Daphne Lawrence/Clarke - with her highly distinctive spiky hairdo; Vikki Blanche as the glorious young sticky beak Julie Robinson; Darius Perkins as troubled teen Scott Robinson; Paul Keane as hugely likeable, but never terribly lucky, bank manager Des Clarke; Francis Bell as the explosively tempered but also very lovable Max Ramsay; Dasha Blahova as Maria Ramsay - a kind and loving soul, but one indiscretion in 1969 caused huge complications; Myra de Groot as fabulously potty Eileen Clarke - I'll never forget the 'food poisoning' outbreak; Ian Smith as prissy but so-well-meaning Harold Bishop; the excellent child actress Kylie Flinker as Lucy Robinson; David Clencie as troubled Ramsay family member, but also outsider, Danny; Peter O'Brien - Danny's half-brother, Shane - cheerful, romantically unlucky and destined to become a gardener when his diving career was cut short; Vivean Gray as the legendary curtain twitcher Mrs Mangel, railing against 'that Ramsay woman!'; Anne Haddy as artist, grandmother and businesswoman Helen Daniels - kind, gracious, the perfect friend and confidante; Alan Dale as fatherly Jim Robinson - who was always there for his kids; Stefan Dennis as (at first) affable young Paul Robinson - to whom life was about to deliver a bitter blow; Anne Charleston as loud but loving Madge Ramsay/Bishop; Fiona Corke as Gail Lewis/Robinson - glamorous, business orientated and also highly sympathetic; Tom Oliver, who first appeared as rascally Lou Carpenter in 1988 - and immediately drove Harold to violence; Ally Fowler as madcap Zoe Davis - livewire pal of Daphne - who almost became Paul's step-mother; Regina Gaigalas as Andrea Townsend - a scheming minx who wasn't totally bad; Bradley Kilpatrick as Bradley Townsend - his ears were similar to Des Clarke's but Des was not his father - another excellent child actor; Annie Jones as gentle and kindly Jane Harris; Geoff Paine as Clive Gibbons - doctor and purveyor of chicken grams; Craig MacLachlan as the loopy and hilarious Henry Ramsay; Anne Scott Pendlebury as Julie's fellow Robinson sticky beak - the awesome Hilary; Lucinda Cowden as Melanie Pearson - madcap, dizzy and possessed of a highly distinctive laugh; and Guy Pearce as Mike Young - from a troubled family background, he found security in Ramsay Street.
The original cast. Elaine Smith's short, spiky haircut impressed the show's production team, who wanted a different look for the character.
And then, OF COURSE, there was Scott Robinson and Charlene Mitchell. Jason Donovan (the second actor to play Scott) and Kylie Minogue starred as the aspiring student journalist and the garage mechanic, who aided the show's popularity immeasurably with their stormy teenage romance and eventual fairy tale wedding.
We were glued to their dramas.Mike, Scott and Charlene - Ramsay Street youth of the 1980s.
And, to end our Neighbours legends list, we could never leave out Bouncer, the lovable Labrador, who befriended Mrs Mangel. A brave and noble pooch indeed.
And, finally (phew!), not forgetting dear little Basil - Lucy's dog, and the original Neighbours canine.
When Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver) first arrived at Lassiters in 1988, he wasted no time in calling Harold Bishop 'Jelly Belly'. Harold sprang up, ready to karate chop the swine into oblivion.
Why did I like Neighbours? Well, I'd always been partial to a bit of soap, and this one was incredibly well done. Reg Watson was a master of his craft. It also had likeable characters and lashings of bright, zany '80s fashion and hair - and at the age I was, fashion was important.
But, also, the English soaps were getting a little depressing in the 1980s, as TV production luvvies set out to show us just how grim our lives were under Thatcher (I couldn't stick her, but the lefty luvvies' dog was far too darned shaggy!). It was good to see a show where people bickered and laughed and popped in for a natter and so on without the writers having some huge political axe to grind.Happy days indeed! English actress Vivean Gray as the legendary Mrs Nell Mangel - on the prowl in Ramsay Street.
Great acting from child performers like Kylie Flinker ensured that Ramsay Street would truly be a multi-generational soap.