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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Neighbours hits 15 years of success
Neighbours characters became more glamorous
As Australia's biggest soap celebrates 15 years of gracing our television screens BBC News Online examines why everybody needs good Neighbours.

The quiet cul-de-sac of Ramsey Street in the fictional town of Erinsborough has become an institution over the years with its happy families, constant sunshine and catchy theme tune.

But Neighbours nearly never made it past its probation period after its original television network Channel Seven decided to axe the Grundy-produced show after six months.

Scott and Charlene
Scott and Charlene's wedding is the soap's most favoured scene
But the shrewd executives over at Ten Network saw the potential for the soap, snapped up the show and sold the rights to more than 40 countries worldwide.

But it is in the UK where the soap has really been taken to the heart of the nation and is regular watched by about six million viewers a day.

When it first aired on BBC One it went out at lunchtime, with an earlier morning omnibus edition.

But after executives realised that millions of children were arriving back at school late from lunch because they were glued to Neighbours, it was moved to its present 1735 (BST) slot.

The tale goes that it was Alison Grade, the daughter of the then head of programming Michael, who helped get the soap a better showing after complaining her and her friends kept missing it.


The soap, the concept of Reg Watson, started with just three families - the Ramseys, the Robinsons and the Clarke's.

When Network Ten bought the soap it used the opportunity to bring in fresh, sassy actors such as Kylie Minogue, who played the tomboy mechanic Charlene.

She became one of the soap's most popular characters and her wedding to Jason Donavon's Scott Robinson is still one of best-loved episodes.

Madge Bishop
Madge Bishop was killed of in 2001
UK viewers could not get enough of the Aussie soap stars and soon the actors were spending their Christmas vacations popping over to appear in pantomimes.

The first to branch out into the world of pop was the young Minogue with her Stock, Aitkin and Waterman chart-topper I Should Be So Lucky.

She was swiftly followed by a host of other actors with varied success.

Those who beat a path to the pop door included Craig Mclachlan, Stefan Dennis, Jason Donavan, Gillian and Gayle Blakeney and Natalie Imbruglia.

Critical success

Guy Pearce, who played the leather jacket-clad Mike Young, is one of the rare Neighbours stars to go on achieve an illustrious Hollywood career.

His films such as the Oscar-winning LA Confidential and Memento have been hailed critical successes.

Guy Pearce
Guy Pearce has received critical success since leaving Ramsey Street

Other famous faces to have had cameo parts include Russell Crowe, Clive James, Derek Nimoy and Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe.

The houses in Ramsey Street have changed occupants many times over as families have come and gone.

The last remaining character from the original cast was Helen Robinson, who was played by Anne Haddy.

Haddy was forced to quit the soap through ill-health and she passed away in 1999, aged 68.


As storylines for characters started to become tired the scriptwriters simply had to move one family out and replace it with a new and exciting batch.

Now Ramsey street is a mixture of old hands such as Harold Bishop, Lou Carpenter and the Kennedys and newer characters such as the Hancocks and Scullys.

Natalie Imbruglia
Natalie Imbruglia's pop career took off with the single Torn

The success of Neighbours can be attributed to its qualities such as upbeat and funny storylines and its hybrid of glamorous and comic characters.

And as the champagne corks fly to celebrate the show's first 15 years it looks like the sun will continue to shine on Ramsey Street for years to come.

See also:

14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Nora Batty to join Crossroads
30 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Crossroads comes back to ITV
28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Cameras roll on Crossroads remake
08 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Neighbours star Haddy dies
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Neighbours' soap war at Crossroads
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