This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
A teetotal vegetarian in huge-framed glasses who ran his own coffee shop and played the tuba, Neighbours’ Harold Bishop was the OG hipster. Being decades ahead of the curve though, is the least of this man’s myriad accomplishments.
In these troubled times, we all need heroes. Dependable pillars to whom we can look for guidance as we wend our way along life’s bumpy road. Harold Bishop is one such man. Thirty years after the brilliant Ian Smith first raised an admonishing finger, waggled his jowls and made the sound of an otter hesitating mid-climax, we present the many and varied reasons his character is an inspiration.
Let’s go. Harold Bishop…
Over the course of his life on Ramsay Street and beyond, Harold Bishop has been run over, crashed his car (twice), gone blind, had a massive heart attack, suffered a stroke, survived prostate cancer, and developed amnesia after being swept out to sea. Did it kill him? Not on your jelly belly. What does not kill Harold Bishop only makes him stronger.
That’s not to mention the man’s emotional resistance. He’s been robbed, scammed, lost all his money in a stock market crash and been bereaved more often than a mafia moll (at the last tally, he’s buried two wives, two children, a daughter-in-law, a grandchild and countless friends). And he’s lived through it. Harold Bishop gets knocked down, but he gets up again. You’re never going to keep him down.
…is a literal life-saver
When Des recklessly went into his burning coffee shop and was blasted unconscious by an explosion, who was there to fireman’s lift him out of there and lay him gently on the lawn of the Lassiter’s Complex? I’ll tell you who: Harold Bishop. Add to that him saving the life of young Toby Mangel when a thunderstorm hit the ‘bush’ on a scouting camping trip, and someone get that man a cape.
…is prepared to fight for what’s right
We’d never ordinarily condone violence, but when a silver fox millionaire car salesman attempts to steal the love of your life out from under you, sometimes there’s nothing for it but to introduce him to your two pals Mr Fist and Mr Pain. Harold Bishop’s raw display of physical power when he sparked out rival-in-love Lou Carpenter at The Water Hole may not have impressed Madge, but it showed us that underneath the peace-loving persona was one dangerous mofo.
…speaks truth to power
All heroes need a moral code, and Harold’s is among the most unimpeachable (apart from that time he attempted to murder Paul Robinson. And that time he went evil after his stroke, started eating meat, drinking beer, and got all handsy with Izzy in the General Store. Oh, and that other time a doppelganger of his dead daughter kick-started a psycho-sexual shit storm by making a pass at him, but they’re just the teeniest of blots in an otherwise clean copy book). The man has a steely sense of right and wrong, as displayed when he learned that the company backing his campaign in a local election was involved in a shady land deal and so withdrew from said race (against Madge!) and whistle-blew his backers’ illegal activity to the Erinsborough News. Boom.
…has got your back
How do you repay your former schoolboy bully and persistent rival in love? Why, if you’re Harold Wayne Bishop, by donating him one of your motherflipping kidneys. (That’s after you’ve shown him who’s boss of course: see above). Harold is nothing if not magnanimous. When Lou Carpenter was in need, Harold stepped up and sacrificed one of his pee-strainers for his old frenemy.
That’s just one example of the man’s generosity of spirit. How about in the clip above, when, having taught Libby’s husband Drew how to sing the traditional Scottish song he had to perform at his wedding, he backed up Libby with those powerful lungs at Drew’s untimely funeral. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.
…keeps it tight
A keen power-walker, often seen strutting around Ramsay Street swinging a set of mini dumb-bells, Harold knows that a healthy body means a healthy mind.
…is a creative whirlwind
Who could forget Harold’s foray into experimental music with the creation of his two-person electro-futurist freeform jazz explosion Tuba Electrica, formed with fifteen-year-old foster son Paul? Not me.
That’s only the half of it. Harold also wrote and produced his own play, sci-fi romance Mission: Erinsborough, about a time-traveller who falls for a local girl. It was flamed by the local press but Harold soldiered on regardless, a lesson for us all to follow our muse, critics be damned.
…has a rap persona (of dubious racial sensitivity)
This is ‘Afro Harold’. Here is a transcript of his coffee shop advert rap,
It’s Harold here, I’m in the house
The coffee shop where the food is grouse*
There’s sandwiches and lasagne too,
Served with a smile, that part is true
I’m keeping it real, you get a great deal
On a yummy snack
And that ain’t no whack
The food is great, we’re open ‘til late
Don’t be a Macguffin
Come butter my muffin. YO!
The Bibbidy-bibbidy-Bishop is here, coming at you serious as a heart attack. Which, incidentally, is what the above brought on when Harold was encouraged to reprise his rap career in later life.
*Australian slang for something that is good.
…is a renegade
He tried to win a barbecue contest at Lassiter’s with a tofu burger. This Bishop doesn’t just move diagonally, when everybody else zigs, he zags.
…is sometimes the villain from Scream
Again, we don’t condone this sort of behaviour, but we all have our off days. Suffering from the extremes of grief after his son, granddaughter and daughter-in-law were killed in a plane crash, Harold went full Liam Neeson on Erinsborough’s yuppie mogul Paul Robinson. He strangled Paul with a rope then, when that didn’t kill him, subjected him to a campaign of psychological telephone torture aided by a voice changer à la Scream.
Well, it’s only what Robinson deserved for releasing this single.
… but is mostly a mama bear
He might be known as Baloo to the local scout troop, but Harold’s loving parenting make him a mama bear. A keen granddad and great-granddad, Harold was the primary care giver for his granddaughter Sky’s baby while she was serving a prison sentence for murder (later curtailed when she was proven not to be the killer. Phew).
Not just that, he nursed Madge through her cancer, and over his tenure in Ramsay Street, took in all manner of waifs and strays (see below).
…opens his home and his heart to the world
Gemma, Guy, daughter Kerry, granddaughter Sky, baby Kerry, French exchange student Claire, cheeky Cockney Eddie, foster sons Paul and Tad, hairdresser Gino, teen Saxon, best friend Lou… Harold flung the doors to No. 24 Ramsay Street open wide to welcome in family and strangers, the poor, the lonely and the in need, pulling them all close to his magnificent bosom.
Truly the change we want to see in the world, join me in a salute to him. For he is Harold, Harold Bishop.