Good TV CONDEMNED: Neighbours

Neighbours is off to Five, but it seems determined not to take any viewers with it. Andrew mourns the biggest soap slump since the Eastenders Ferreira Disaster

Harold Bishop

Like all normal people, I was raised on Neighbours. All people under 35 have their own memories of Neighbours, from childhood (Julie falling to her death), key teenage couples (Billy and Anne, Lance and Amy) and the point they rediscovered the show later on when they were done with late teenage ‘angst’ (around the time Paul came back in, the plane crash, the Timminses).

The next generation won’t be so lucky, with the programme shunted off to terrestrial Siberia, ‘Five’. Even without the move, Neighbours seems pretty determined to shake off all of its viewers. The show is currently in the second worst form it has ever been in. They changed the logo. Harold is effectively leaving the programme. They brought in the least interesting family since the Hancocks (the Parkers), failed to kill off characters who were years past their sell-by-date (Steph, Toadie, Janae) while losing all of the young bucks that kept the programme watchable (Dylan, Sky, Izzy). Plus they started filming it with funny cameras which make it look like Home & Away.

And what are Five doing to remedy the situation? Showing the programme at 5:30, an inexplicable five minutes early than is just and fair.

It is, in effect, the beginning of the end for Neighbours. The programme rates very poorly in Australia and is only supported by the money brought in by the Beeb. The programme is currently living off the inflated amount Five forked over, but Five only paid so much money because they think a captive audience will follow the programme to a channel with ads. But the programme is currently so bad that most viewers will probably be shed in the move. That means that come renegotiations for the British contract, Neighbours is going to going to find very little money coming its way. Cue a vicious circle of decreasing income and resultingly fewer viewers until, bam, it’s 2018 and the programme is axed.

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The only hope is that Neighbours itself pulls its finger out of its backside and stops trying to be ‘realistic’ again, as they have said they intend to do with Five’s cash. We don’t want realism – we want rebels to find redemption with Harold and Susan; a cluster of twenty-somethings in the House of Trouser; unstoppably awful heartache for Harold and Susan (as much as I love them both it does make good telly); and brown, sexy teenagers that make us feel like dirty old British perverts in our grey little country.

So, lucky makers of Neighbours I’ve made you a checklist to make things better again:

– Axe Toady, Steph, Janae, ALL the Parkers, and Elle.

– And by ‘axe’ I don’t mean metaphorically.

– Show the programme at 5:35. Follow it with the Six O’Clock News, read by Nicholas Witchell and Jill Dando (animatronics). Or, if it’s lunchtime, precede it with Martyn Lewis doing the One.

– The return of old characters is always fun: Annalise again, with Mark in tow (having become a vicar), Max, Vikram, Hannah and Debbie. Todd, for implausible measure, with Phoebe. And Aunt Rosemary, because no Neigbours revival is complete without her. Plus it’s probably about time Marlene came back off that cruise.

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– Someone to come between Susan and Karl so they can get back together stronger later. Annalise could probably do that. But not for as long as Karl was with Izzy, because that felt a bit too much like he was never going to get back with Susan, and contributed in no small part to Neighbours last big slump.

– They should probably bring back some lost relatives for Harold. Is it too soon to bring back Kerry as a sexy teen?

Problem solved.