AAfter nearly four decades of improbable melodrama, the final credits are due to roll for UK viewers on July 29 on the soap opera that truly made a group of small-town Australian families look like “neighbors turned good friends”, to quote wrong the lyrics of this enduring Tony Hatch theme tune. Memories of the cul-de-sac at the center of the action may fade, but the impact of the show will endure.
Erinsborough, a place imagined and filmed by Grundy Television at Pin Oak Court near Melbourne, was the kind of environment audiences in gray Britain could aspire to live in: it was warm and friendly, and much more accessible than part of many Americans. know. A seat at a table at the Waterhole, the bar at the Lassiters Complex, didn’t seem out of reach. So the fictional suburb became a new ideal, the home of relaxed English-speaking entertainment in the sun, and it also quickly updated the wartime image of backward Australia portrayed in another popular and long-running drama series from Reg Grundy, The Sullivans.
The gritty, classy world of British daytime soaps, embodied by ITV The Cedar Where Crossroadstook a bit of a “king shot” from Neighbors‘ the unexpected allure of youth. On the positive side, however, it gave Phil Redmond the impetus he needed to finally persuade Channel 4 to do Hollyoaks. Building on the success of the show and its rival, At home and awayin 1995 Redmond, creator of Barn Hill and Brooksideasked, “Why do we just have to have the Aussie stuff?”
The general presence of Neighbors on UK screens when it arrived in 1986, in five weekly installments, turned the country’s daytime viewing habits upside down. Until the Aussie show proves how much more complicated ordinary drama can be, coronation street, EastEnders and Emmerdale only went out with their devoted following twice a week. But in just over a decade, the three British soap operas had introduced a third weekly episode.
Repeat episodes also went well, with BBC One moving its morning repeat from Neighbors’ previous midday to early evening broadcast, on the advice of the school-aged daughter of the channel’s comptroller at the time, Michael Grade. The combined audience peaked at over 21 million in 1990. After nearly 22 years of entertaining BBC viewers, Neighbors moved to Channel 5 in 2008 because its producer, Fremantle Media, asked for too much money to renew the deal.
Credibility was no limit to the kind of storylines that propelled the cast through loves, breakups and bereavement. Harold Bishop was taken to sea for five years, only to return with amnesia, a contagious disease in the series that also infected Susan Kennedy after slipping on milk. There have been many disasters, including emergency tracheostomies, an explosion at a wedding, the 2014 Erinsborough tornado, the Lassiters fire (villain Paul Robinson was to blame) and, of course , a notorious dream sequence in which Bouncer, Joe Mangel’s dog, falls asleep and dreams of marrying Rosie, the black and white collie next door, and raising puppies.
New talent pool
The list of stars who have come out of Neighbors unscathed is impressive. Highly paid, Oscar-nominated Hollywood actor Margot Robbie got one of his first jobs playing schoolgirl Donna on the show for a few seasons, while Russell Crowe made an early appearance as bad boy Kenny Larkin before getting an Oscar for Gladiator. Guy Pearce was Mike Young’s smiley on the show until 1989, before finally appearing in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Deserta role that garnered him Hollywood attention and landed him the starring role in Christopher Nolan Mementobefore more recently courting Kate Winslet in Easttown Mare.
The faces of Peter O’Brien, who played Shane Ramsay and then took on the role of Scissors Smedley in the admired British hospital drama Heart attack, and Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson, are also still familiar. Dale has since featured on the TV show Lostand the movies Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The daily cartoon rides set by Ian Smith as Harold Bishop, Mark Little as Joe Mangel, and then later by Ryan Moloney as troubled class clown Toadfish Rebecchi each left a imprint on Australia’s international image that is at least as enduring as that of Dame Edna Everage or Crocodile Dundee. Bishop became the show’s unofficial ambassador for a time and returned for the finale, alongside Little, who then took his stand-up shows to the outskirts of Edinburgh, replaced Chris Evans at television in The big breakfast and performed in London’s West End. “Toadie,” however, is still a mainstay on the show, and her fourth set of wedding vows will now help. Neighbors bow out for good. He finally seeks to find happiness with Melanie Pearson, played by Lucinda Cowen.
For UK audiences, the show’s biggest impact came in the bubbly, diminutive form of Kylie Minogue, who played mechanic Charlene Mitchell on the show. After chart success alongside her on-screen husband Scott Robinson, actor and singer Jason Donovan, she was reinvented as a pop star by Stock Aitken and Waterman, with a string of UK hits.
She then gained sudden street cred as a disco queen after an affair with INXS’ Michael Hutchence, before becoming a lifelong international stadium fan. Hot on Kylie’s heels were Natalie Imbruglia, Beth Brennan in Neighborswho had a hit with the song Torn, and then came Holly Valance, who played Felicity Scully.
But there were some bad songs too, including disturbing bits from actor Stefan Dennis, aka Paul Robinson, and Craig McLachlan, better known as Charlene’s goofy brother Henry.
The Neighbors The wedding album may still be dominated by memorabilia from Charlene and Scott’s 1988 union, watched in Britain by just under 20 million people, but the characters David and Aaron’s wedding in 2018 marked an equally important moment for the gay public. The show didn’t have a reputation for pushing the boundaries of society, but has made up for it in recent years by hosting Australia’s first ever same-sex wedding. Three years ago, the show also introduced its first trans character, Mackenzie Hargreaves. Storylines followed her gender confirmation surgery and change of sexual identity. Perhaps most influential, however, was the decision to treat her like any other teenager on the show most of the time.
The first episodes gave UK viewers a long-awaited update on Australian slang, finally dislodging the clichés established by Waltzing Matilda’s lyrics and establishing a new Australian lexicon, much of which has been embraced by teenage fans. and students. So ‘dossers’ became ‘bludgers’, snitches became ‘dobbers’, and a row became a ‘blue’. More explanation was needed when it came to calling a pickup truck “a ute,” short for “utility,” or assessing that “thongs” really meant thongs. Everything in Ramsay Street was abbreviated: often a weekend consisted of visiting your ‘rellies’ or donning your ‘cozzies’ and ‘sunnies’ to go to the beach bathing in the ‘arvo’, but watch out for the ‘mozzies’ on the way back home. The shortening of “university” or “univ” to “uni” has now become so widespread in Britain that its etymological roots in Neighbors have been largely forgotten.
The show’s aesthetic, including its bright primary colours, ripped tank tops, swim shorts and Charlene’s tomboyish totem dungarees, had an immediate effect on the appearance of young people in Britain, as did the easy and open living in the kitchen of many servants. sets.
Charlene’s curls and Scott, Shane and Henry’s early mullet haircuts also had their ardent copycats. This mixture of kitsch and cool has become harder to disentangle after a string of celebrity appearances on the show, including Chris Lowe of The Pet Shop Boys, Spice Girl Emma Bunton, Michael Parkinson, Russell Brand, Lily Allen, Matt Lucas and David Walliams. .