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.

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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.

Handout photo released by Fremantle Australia of the man and guest cast, (front row left to right) Freya Van Dyke, Lucinda Cowden, Scarlett Anderson, John Turner, Ryan Moloney, Ian Smith, Alan Fletcher, Benji McNair, Jackie Woodburne, Zima Anderson, Annie Jones, Harlow Herbison-Fuentes, Melissa Bell, Stefan Dennis, Rebekah Elmaloglou, Kate Kendall, Sally-Anne Upton, (second row left to right) Richard Huggett, April Rose Pengilly, Takaya Honda, Richie Morris , Gemma Bird Matheson, Georgie Stone, Candice Leask, Lloyd Will, Emerald Chan, Jacinta Stapleton, Paul Keane, Charlotte Chimes, Tim Kano, Pheobe Roberts, James Mason, Ben Hall and Matt Wilson, featured in the final scene of Neighbors filmed Friday. Issue date: Friday June 10, 2022. PA Photo. The globally acclaimed soap opera first aired in 1985 and followed the lives of those who live and work in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough. See PA story SHOWBIZ Neighbours. Photo credit should read: Ray Messner/Fremantle Australia/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require additional permission from the copyright holder.

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.

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