'It's still on?!' That's usually the response I get when I tell people that I watch Neighbours and have done for pretty much my entire life. 'Is Harold still in it?", that's normally the next question. The answer, for anyone who is interested, is no. He did pop back this year though for a ghostly and rather moving reunion with his dead wife Madge. That's right, dead wife.
Neighbours is the iconic Aussie soap that celebrated 30 years of births, deaths and marriages in March this year. Quite often the mention of Neighbours goes hand in hand with the impressive roll call of all the Kylies, Guys and Margots who have used Neighbours as a springboard to what some would call greater things. But for me, Neighbours is so much more than a training ground for up and coming Aussie actors. As sad as it sounds, it's almost like a dependable friend. Always there to brighten up my day, make me laugh and most importantly help me to escape reality and relax. Being part of my childhood, teenage years and adulthood, it has had an influence on my outlook on life, teaching me some valuable life lessons along the way. Life lessons such as:
- One date with a person equals being in a relationship with them.
- Once you are in this one day old relationship you must never use the word 's-e-x', you must find confusing euphemisms to describe 'what goes on behind closed doors'. For example, 'Let's take things to the next level' or 'Go all the way'. (All the way where? To the Waterhole?!)
- After several weeks of being in the relationship, you must either get married, move in together or break up.
Is it any wonder that I am still single at the age of 36 with these unrealistic expectations thrust upon anyone that I think is half decent?!
I love the show, always have, always will. I have no shame in telling people that I watch Neighbours and I'll champion how good it is to anyone who will listen. More people should watch it and this week was a great place to reconnect with those forgotten neighbours.
As part of the ongoing 30th anniversary celebrations and what now seems to be an annual tradition of having a big disaster, Erinsborough High School caught alight and burnt to the ground with most of the Ramsay Street residents trapped inside.
Neighbours is not known for its big budget stunts...or its big budget for that matter, but this year they seem to have learnt their lesson from last year's poor excuse for a CGI tornado that loomed over Ramsay Street striking completely no fear in to anyone who saw it. There was real fire, a big explosion and some impressive use of CGI that brought a real sense of danger and peril to the action-packed episodes.
As always with Neighbours or any soap disaster, you had to watch the episodes with your belief firmly suspended, otherwise you'd end up tying yourself in knots asking questions like:
'Has Erinsborough High never had a fire drill?'
'Where are all the firemen?'
'Why is Brad allowed to keep running in and out of a burning building?'
'Why didn't Amber and Susan step over that tiny row of flames and escape?'
But if you can get over that there was some great drama to enjoy. The action was fast paced with some of our favourite characters facing life or death decisions that could potentially change their lives forever.
The long running love triangle of Brad, Lauren and Terese took an interesting turn when love-rat Brad had to choose who to save between the two women in his life. He picked lover Lauren, leaving his wife and mother of his three children, Terese, to burn. Terese was rescued however, by the invisible firemen, and it looks like Brad's decision will tear the already fractured Willis family further apart.
In genuinely frightening scenes, Susan Kennedy (played by Jackie Woodburne, crowned Best Daytime Star at this year's Inside Soap awards) faced the prospect of delivering Amber Turner's premature baby surrounded by encroaching flames. A step up from the emergency tracheotomy she performed on Lou Carpenter during last year's tornado episodes who was trapped under a beam choking on a sandwich. Yes, choking on a sandwich. Before Susan had the chance to add midwife to her list of many talents, the pair were surprisingly rescued by two firemen; surprising because they appeared to be the only firemen on the job. But we're still left to wonder if Amber and her baby will pull through.
The biggest surprise came when one of the residents did something very unneighbourly. Proving that sometimes neighbours aren't there for each other, local busybody and matriarch Sheila Canning left friend and neighbour Toadie Rebecchi for dead, choosing to save herself from the burning building. The situation made all the worse as Toadie was unable to save himself, having recently been paralysed in a bouncy castle accident. Yes, that's right, a bouncy castle accident.
Although no one died in the fire, the drama and intrigue is far from over. Will Brad and Sheila's secrets stay buried in the burnt out shell that once was Erinsborough High or rise from the ashes destroying their reputations and lives? Will Amber and the baby survive? And just what or who started the fire? So many questions, so much drama to come.
So for all those people who say, 'I haven't watched Neighbours in years!', I'm here to tell you that you need to get back on the Neighbours fun bus and enjoy the ride!
'Neighbours' airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.'