Well, it’s official, after nearly 37 years, countless births, marriages, affairs, deaths, comebacks, resurrections, celebrity cameos, baffling dream sequences, evil doppelgängers, and ex-Prisoner: Cell Block H actors, Aussie soap Neighbours is coming to an end. The show that gave us Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, and Margot Robbie, leaves TV screens this summer, which means no more Toadie, no more Lassiters, and no more Anson’s Corner.
Neighbours has been on TV for almost all of my life, and I will be very sad to see it go. I have fond memories of growing up with the residents of Ramsay Street, and I honestly believe it is a big mistake the show is ending – a mistake that will be regretted and referenced for years to come.
The final episode of Neighbours will air in the UK in August, so there’s still a number of stories on the horizon, but now that we’re into the home stretch, it feels appropriate to revisit past glories. So, today I am watching 15 classic episodes of Neighbours, all selected for their nostalgic value.
The episodes will be highlighted and/or discussed in the thread, so please come and join me as I re-watch old stories from yesteryear.
I’m starting my TV-rewind with the very first episode of Neighbours, which is the ‘pilot’. This episode aired in Australia in March 1985 (October ‘86 in the UK).
This initial episode begins with a terrifying dream sequence, involving Danny Ramsay having nightmares… before segueing into a bucks party!
Good old Neighbours, taking the rough with the smooth.
Iconic characters Jim Robinson, Helen Daniels, Paul Robinson, and Des Clarke all feature in the pilot episode. Scott, Julie and Lucy Robinson also appear, but all three parts get recast in the fullness of time.
Dreams and premonitions, a cancelled wedding, and drama with Des hiring Daphne as a stripper – not bad for an opening episode!
Onto the second episode in my selection, which is actually episode 466, better known as ‘Mrs. Mangel’s Portrait’.
For those who missed this episode the first time around, there’s drama over a portrait of Mrs. Mangel, that has been painted by Helen Daniels. Mrs. Mangel thought the painting would be flattering, but Helen clearly had other ideas.
It’s amazing just how iconic Mrs. Mangel became in the show, considering she was only in Neighbours for two years, appearing between 1986 and 1988. It just goes to show how great Vivean Gray was in the role.
Third episode of the day, which is actually episode 523, is better known as Scott and Charlene’s Wedding.
This is arguably the most famous episode of Neighbours, which was watched by almost 20 million viewers in the UK when it originally aired.
Scott is played by Jason Donovan, Charlene is played by Kylie Minogue, and both have become eternally linked to Neighbours as a result of this episode, despite achieving a great deal of success after they left the show.
This really is a delightful episode, which captures the fun and froth that only Neighbours can deliver. The wedding is perfect, the accompanying music by Angry Anderson fits so well, and in this moment a piece of soap history was born.
I’m really going to miss Neighbours.
Up next is episode 1254, better known as Bouncer’s Dream.
The dream part, which I’ll get to in a moment, is very famous, but it is a small part of the episode. Other plots include drama at the coffee shop, Jim Robinson getting lost in the Bush, and Harold getting frisky… with Des!
As for the ‘dream’, well this is where many believe Neighbours hit a creative low. Why? Because this episode saw Bouncer the dog have a romantic dream about Rosie, the border collie from next door.
Sure, it’s a bizarre choice for an episode, but it’s not the worst decision Neighbours has ever made (I’ll come to that shortly).
Fifth episode on my list and it’s time for episode 1285 aka The Death of Kerry Bishop/Mangel.
As the episode gets underway, a heavily pregnant Kerry is off to a duck hunt, to save some birds, but husband Joe Mangel is concerned, believing this to be a very dangerous idea. Oh, Joe, if only you knew!
After a warning from her father, Harold, about the danger of going to a duck hunt, Kerry heads to the marshes to rescue some ducks, taking Joe and her friend Amber in tow. But things take a shocking turn when Kerry is shot by a stray bullet from a poacher’s gun, and is killed!
Kerry’s death was a genuine shock when this episode aired, with the pregnant character bumped off as the episode drew to a conclusion. Joe lost his wife and his unborn child in a dramatic and unforgettable finale for Neighbours.
Next episode and this one is episode 1345, better known as Bouncer and the Chip Pan Fire – a tense, and frankly bonkers instalment of Neighbours!
Picture the scene, Madge has been cooking chips in the kitchen, while looking after toddler, Sky Mangel. But Madge has collapsed, leaving Sky in terrible danger…
But just as disaster is about to strike, the phone rings, Bouncer the dog ANSWERS THE PHONE, and manages to bark for help! Yep, he BARKS FOR HELP… THROUGH A TELEPHONE.
Onto another stone-cold classic and it’s episode 1520 – The Disappearance (and presumed death) of Harold Bishop!
In this episode, Madge and Harold leave Ramsay Street to go on a relaxing tour of Australia. However, shortly into their trip, Harold gets swept away into the sea, leaving Madge devastated.
This episode was conceived as a way to write Harold out of the show, with his death being his final send off. But in true Neighbours fashion, this wasn’t the end for Harold and he returned to the show a few years later.
How was his death and subsequent resurrection explained? It was quite simple actually.
Harold was swept into the sea, he suffered amnesia, believed he was a guy called Ted, and joined the Salvation Army. On a chance encounter with Helen Daniels he was instantly recognised, and after a bit of convincing, he came to learn of his real identity.
I’ve reached the halfway point of this Neighbours nostalgia-fest, and it is episode 1721 – The Death of Todd Landers! If Kerry Bishop’s death was shocking, this one was even worse!
On his way to an appointment to meet up with his pregnant girlfriend, Phoebe, Todd is run over.
Despite a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding, Todd comes out of surgery and seems to be doing well. According to the doctor, Todd should be fine in a couple of weeks. Heck, there’s even some happy music to lighten the mood. Surely nothing can go wrong now?
Another episode, and another death. It’s time for episode 1904 – Jim Robinson’s Heart Attack!
In this episode, Jim Robinson has a heart attack at home, in front of his girlfriend Fiona Hartman. Initially Fiona rushes to Jim’s aid, before heading to the phone to call an ambulance. But realising his death would have financial benefits, Fiona puts down the phone and lets Jim die on the floor.
A brutal end to such a long-running character, but one that came about due to a behind the scenes pay dispute, between the Neighbours producers and actor Alan Dale. Dale argued for better pay for him and his cast mates, the producers disagreed and killed off Jim as a result.
Alan Dale initially struggled to get work in Australia as a result of being typecast as Jim Robinson, but he soon headed to the US, to reinvent himself and appear in countless movies and TV shows.
A genuinely brilliant episode.
Tenth episode on the list and it’s another death! The episode is 3740 – The Death of Madge Bishop. With Madge dying from cancer, her husband Harold has a crisis of faith. He knows he will soon have to say goodbye to his wife and best friend.
As the episode progresses, old friend (and former old flame), Lou Carpenter stops by to see Madge. Things aren’t looking good.
As the episode concludes, Madge dies in the arms of Harold. A truly heart-breaking episode.
Into the final five episodes now, continuing with episode 4773 aka The 20th Anniversary. This episode originally aired in 2005, when Neighbours was still being aired on BBC One.
To mark 20 years of the show, many legacy characters returned for this one, including Annalise Hartman, Joe Mangel, Philip Martin, Doug Willis, Lucy Robinson, and via some pre-recorded material, Marlene Kratz (who previously went away on a short cruise and never returned to Ramsay Street).
For those wanting a pure hit of nostalgia, the 20th Anniversary episode is a perfect reminder of some of the best-loved characters.
Time for the next episode and it is a considerable leap forward in time from the previous episode on this list. This is episode 7921 – Aaron and David’s Wedding.
This episode aired in 2018, so it is firmly part of the Channel 5 era of the show. As the title suggests, this episode features the wedding of Aaron and David, marking the first same-sex wedding on Australian TV.
Aaron and David are fan-favourite characters and have become a much-loved part of the show. In recent years, Neighbours has become very much pro-LGBTQ+ and this is something that will be sorely missed when the show ends.
Next episode on the list and it’s a bit of a notable oddity. This is episode 8000 – The One With Val Grundy.
This episode is an oddity because during the first half of the episode the residents of Ramsay Street continuously greet Val – the long-term resident at No. 34. Thing is, neither Val nor No. 34 have been seen in the previous 7,999 episodes!
The whole Val plot-line is used as a way for the show to look back at some elements from the past, through the life of a character that has apparently always been in the background of the show (even though fans know she hasn’t). Val’s surname is a nod to Neighbours creator, Reg Grundy.
Sadly, Neighbours will not make it to episode 9,000 (not far off though), so I’m glad the writers got to have a little call-back when the series hit 8,000.
This episode is a nice reminder of the lighter touch this soap has, and it brings a little sadness with a smattering of humour.
Heading toward the end of my 15 episodes (one to go), but for now it’s time for episode 8002 – The One Where Jim Robinson Returns!
After years of the UK being months behind Australia, we finally caught up with a backlog of episodes and had reached the point where the UK and Australia were airing the same episodes on the same day. As part of this new, wonderful era of the show, Channel 5 reinvested in Neighbours and kept it on the air all year round.
This meant in 2018, audiences got treated to a Christmas Day edition – the first in the show’s history. To mark the special occasion, Neighbours brought back a very familiar face…
Alan Dale reprised the role of Jim Robinson for a brief appearance in this Christmas-themed instalment. Jim appears in a bauble (no, seriously), as a vision seen by Paul Robinson.
Absolutely bonkers, but a nice little Crimbo treat for fans!
And so, it comes to this, I’ve reached the 15th and final episode on my Neighbours journey. This episode is a sad one – it’s episode 8052 aka The Death of Sonya Rebecchi.
For those who have lost touch with the show since the early days, Sonya was a long-running character who was married to Toadie. The two characters were a perfect fit for each other and were popular with fans.
However, in a cost-cutting exercise, to save paying out for a long-term cast member, the producers of Neighbours decided to kill off Sonya, letting go of actress Eve Morey in the process. The decision was not popular with fans, and still to this day marks the worst decision ever made on the show – yes, even worse than Bouncer’s dream.
Morey didn’t want to leave Neighbours, but she took the decision like a trooper and played out Sonya’s exit story line, which saw the character diagnosed with cancer.
In this final episode for Sonya, the Rebecchi’s take a trip away from Ramsay Street. As the episode begins, Toadie packs up the car as Sonya takes one last look at her home.
Out of all the deaths on the show, including those I’ve highlighted today (Madge, Harold, Jim, etc) and those I didn’t get to (Helen, Daphne, etc), Sonya’s death is the most devastating. The whole episode is one of Neighbours’ best, despite the rubbish circumstances that led to it, and it provides a tragic end to a much-loved character.
If you ever want to see a reason why Neighbours should not have been cancelled in 2022, you’ll find it in this 22-minute episode from 2019.
And that’s it – 15 episodes selected from over 8700. Should you want to check them out for yourself, here’s a quick recap:
- Episode 1 – The Pilot
- Episode 466 – Mrs. Mangel’s Portrait
- Episode 523 – Scott and Charlene’s Wedding
- Episode 1254 – Bouncer’s Dream
- Episode 1285 – The Death of Kerry Bishop
- Episode 1345 – Bouncer and the Chip Pan Fire
- Episode 1520 – Harold’s Disappearance
- Episode 1721 – The Death of Todd Landers
- Episode 1904 – Jim Robinson’s Heart Attack
- Episode 3740 – The Death of Madge Bishop
- Episode 4773 – The 20th Anniversary
- Episode 7921 – Aaron and David’s Wedding
- Episode 8000 – The One With Val Grundy
- Episode 8002 – The Return of Jim Robinson
- Episode 8052 – The Death of Sonya Rebecchi
Most of these episodes are pretty iconic, but there are many more fantastic episodes I never even got to.
I expect the final episodes of Neighbours that will air this summer will be excellent and I imagine the show will end on a high. Old faces are expected to return, to wave the show goodbye, but the truth is, Neighbours never really said goodbye to the past – this is something which has always been ever present.
Despite some daft decisions and some ropey storylines, Neighbours built up a legacy and one it has worked hard to retain. I am truly sad to see it go, but what a story it has had over the years.
Until next time, goodbye to the Robinsons, the Ramsays, the Mangels, the Brennans, the Cannings, the Rebecchis, the Kennedys, and everyone in between. Life without Sheila, Lou, Harold, Joe, Karl, Susan and so many more Ramsay Street residents, just won’t be the same.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to take this trip down Ramsay Street – I hope you’ve enjoyed this blast from the past. For more nostalgia-inducing posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
One Response to Saying a nostalgic goodbye to Neighbours
Thanks for this I watched neighbours probably from the 90s and up til today and will miss it. It part of my lunch time routine as I watch home and away also but neighbours I will miss as it doesnt take itself too seriously, and has had some funny moments as well as sad ones. Channel 5 were mean to drop it Ill end uo watching Doctors which is on the same time but its okay not quite the same, then home and away afterwards. I was sad when Hendrix died though i guess he and mackenzie would have run off like kyle and roxy did but no they killed him off! haha. But yeah poor Neiighbours it wont be the same when its not on no more. Wishing all the cast and crew best of luck you have done a great show and I will miss you all. Home and Away is good but be difficult to fill the gap of Neighbours. It should stay.
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