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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ian Hyland

Neighbours review: Final episode of show which changed British TV forever had everything

Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. So goes — sorry, so went — the song.

Unfortunately, Channel 5 decided everybody needed good riddance instead. So tonight, we said a final goodbye to the TV institution from Down Under which changed the face of British TV forever.

Well, do you remember what daytime telly was like before Neighbours came along in 1986?

Exactly – but now look at “daytime”. It has its own fancy category at the National TV Awards and everything.

As for Neighbours, you can’t say Channel 5 didn’t give it a fitting send-off – which was very generous when you consider the show’s 20 million viewer heyday was actually on BBC1.

The double episode finale was promoted to an hour-long prime time slot, and it was followed by a pair of wonderfully nostalgic documentaries which outlined just how much of a cultural phenomenon this show was.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan returned for the finale (Freemantle)

Obviously, that still might not have been enough for some fans to forgive Channel 5 for ditching it in favour of Cash In The Attic with Chris Kamara. (I know – unbelievable, Jeff!)

But at least this good thing came to a good end.

I’m guessing the only people who didn’t enjoy every minute of tonight’s glorious offerings were the casts of Corrie, Emmerdale and Eastenders, for whom it must have felt like a visit from the Ghost Of Commissionless Future.

Of course, having allowed Neighbours to slip from my weekly planner a good while ago, I can’t pretend that I had a clue who half the cast in the finale were, or what the hell was going on.

For the record, it had something to do with Paul Robinson and a business deal involving Lassiters Hotel – which only served to confirm that if you hadn’t watched since 2001, you really had missed nothing. Luckily, it was the other half of the cast most of us were tuning in for.

Kylie and Jason return for the Neighbours finale (Freemantle)
Mike (Guy Pearce) and Clive (Geoff Paine) (Fremantle)

Scott and Charlene, biker Mike, Plain Jane Superbrain, big-eared Des, Madge (as a ghost), bumbling Harold, Joe “Ah, ripper” Mangel, Mrs Mangel’s portrait… In that sense it was an absolute treat, with the added bonus of former Ramsay Street stars who became megastars such as Margot Robbie, Natalie Imbruglia, Holly Vallance and Delta Goodrem sending good luck video messages to newlyweds Mel and Toadie.

Storyline-wise, there were no major shocks. However, anyone who ever enjoyed a real-life teenage romance would have been thrilled by the obvious spark that still existed between Mike and Jane.

The fact that you could watch them falling in love all over again without thinking, “That’s actual Guy Pearce from Hollywood right there!” spoke volumes for their enduring chemistry.

The last episode of Neighbours aired tonight (Freemantle)

Then, half an hour in, we got the moment we’d all been waiting for.

To the strains of Especially For You, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan drove back into Ramsay Street.

Truth be told, we’d already seen enough photos of their return so their brief royal walkabout was something of an anti-climax on screen.

Annie Jones and Kylie Minogue (Freemantle)

Less “Oh my God!”, more “Oh, there’s Scott and Charlene”.

In a way though, that was fitting. The show was always the biggest star, and it will forever remain a valuable part of TV history.

Which reminds me… Kammy, how much do you reckon I could get at auction for this signed DVD of Bouncer’s Dream?

Stefan Dennis: I thought show would flop

Neighbours might have just finished its historic 37-year run but one of its biggest stars was sure it would be a flash in the pan.

Stefan Dennis, who played stalwart Paul Robinson, admitted he initially thought the show sounded “corny” and lacked staying power.

Suffice to say after playing Paul from 1985 until last night’s final episode, he’s proved himself wrong.

The team on the Neighbours set (Fremantle)

On Channel 5’s Neighbours Made Me a Star, Stefan, who did take a break between 1993 and 2004, revealed: “I got the gig in Neighbours and I thought ‘Neighbours? what a corny little soap and it probably won’t last that long anyway’.”

It turned out it wasn’t the soap that would crash and burn but his music career, after Stefan, now 63, became one of several one-hit wonders from the show who weren’t quite so lucky, lucky, lucky as Kylie Minogue when it came to the charts.

His song Don’t It Make You Feel Good – best remembered for his fetching leather jacket – reached No16 the UK charts in 1989.

Annie Jones played Jane Harris in 1986 (Copyright unknown)
Stefan Dennis pictured in 1988 (Getty Images)

Kylie and Guy Pearce – who went on to star in films including LA Confidential and The Hurt Locker – might have left the world of soap behind them but Stefan isn’t the only original face who was a regular again on Ramsay Street.

Several much-loved faces from the 80s had already returned, giving the soap ratings of a million viewers.

Among them was Annie Jones, aka Plain Jane Superbrain Harris, who returned in 2018 – having left viewers heartbroken when she and Mike Young, played by Guy, left in 1989.

Stars out in force

By Jessica Boulton

A multi-platinum album-selling artist, a Hollywood A-lister, an Oscar nominee and a West End legend.

Even the best Hollywood director couldn’t secure such an ensemble.

So for a cancelled soap on Channel 5 to boast all them and more?

Neighbours was a cut above when it came to nurturing talent.

Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Memento star Guy Pearce, Margot “Harley Quinn” Robbie, Torn singer Natalie Imbruglia, Big Breakfast presenter Mark Little, global pop star Delta Goodrem and Holly Valance, billionaire wife of property developer Nick Candy, were among the big names who returned last night. And for each and every one it was for the same reason: they felt they owed their careers to Neighbours.

Toadie and Mel tie the knot (Fremantle)

It’s not just because it was a good training ground for young actors.

It’s more than that: it’s because the show’s sunshine-soaked feelgood nature made us fall in love with them.

And the goodwill stayed with them: No one would ever let bubble perm Charlene be a pop flop.

Jason gave us Ten Good Reasons to leave him in his dark times, but was the surprise star of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party.

Because, the truth is, good neighbours become good friends and we all want to see our friends succeed – that is why, last night.. they all showed up.

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