Farewell Voisins, harmless viewing of my youth
But I know there will be many like me, lamenting the end of an era. At its peak in the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Neighbors drew ten million viewers for each episode. Over 20 million people tuned into November 1988 to watch episode 523, when Scott and Charlene (Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue) got married.
I remember listening to the very first episode two years earlier. A virus of the disease had kept me out of primary school and I watched from the couch with my mother as residents of Ramsay Street deal with the fallout from Des Clarke’s bachelor party (or the night dollars in Australian language). We were hooked.
From then on, Neighbors became part of my family’s daily routine. We weren’t particularly keen viewers, but from Monday to Friday we got together for the 5.35pm show on BBC1, before having dinner at 6pm. That’s just what we did; it was harmless viewing. And, other than when Harold Bishop was swept out to sea (don’t worry, he came back!), the sun was generally shining.
As my brother and sisters and I grew up and left home, this routine was inevitably dropped. But I kept watching. The 1:40 p.m. slot was ideal for a newbie sub-editor who didn’t start his shift until 3 p.m.!
A sabbatical year in 2001 with friends – in Australia, of course – was, ironically, when I had to break that habit. Yes, I took pictures with Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecci at the Neighbors Quiz night at a pub in downtown Sydney and yes, I visited Vermont South on the outskirts of Melbourne to stand in Pin Oak Court (aka Ramsay Street), but I stopped logging in regularly as life got in the way.
Now that I have three children of my own, I wonder how I ever found the time for this. But there, my secret is revealed: I loved Neighbours! And I’ll tune in when the final episode airs on Channel 5 on August 1st. For the love of the good old days.