One of the biggest TV soaps of them all is to come to an end this year after 37 years: Neighbours’ last episode will air later in 2022, bringing the curtain down on its beloved cast of characters. Following monetary troubles arising in part from the advent of streaming and on demand, the show announced it would be ceasing production after Channel 5 dropped it, with the UK being its biggest audience. While the final, double episode won’t air until August, filming for it recently wrapped up, and so to mark the occasion we’re listing some of the soap’s best and most memorable moments.
Future Movie Stars
As well as being possibly the most famous TV show to come out of Australia, Neighbours is known for its high number of celebs who got their start on the show, or at least appeared early in their career. Chief among them is songstress Kyle Minogue, who began her ascent to fame for her role as Charlene Robinson for two years during the 80s. Alongside her was actor and singer Jason Donovan, who also went on to have a successful music career (including a duet with Kylie.) Another big name to appear on the show was Margot Robbie during the 2000s, who appeared as Donna Freedman from 2008 t0 2011, before shooting to fame with roles in The Wolf of Wall Street and Suicide Squad. Guy Pearce also appeared on the show as Mike Young from 1986 to 1989, and Natalie Imbruglia and Liam Hemsworth also had recurring roles. Hollywood legend Russell Crowe appeared very early on in his career as Kenny Larkin for 4 episodes in 1987.
The Wedding of Scott and Charlene
Two of Neighbours‘ biggest stars of the 80s were Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kyle Minogue), so of course in true soap fashion, their wedding was a big deal. The couple had had a long running relationship on the show, and they tied the knot only a year after Minogue’s character appeared and the two met. It was watched by two million Australians when it aired, becoming one of the most watched soap episodes in the country, and attracted close to 20 million British viewers when it aired the following year.
Harold Is Swept Out To Sea… Then Returns…
Poor old Harold Bishop departed the soap in 1991 after being swept out to sea after an accident on a walk on a coastal path. After five years of being lost at sea however, he reappeared on the show in 1996- only he had developed amnesia and called himself Ted, having been picked up by a trawler after the accident. His memory eventually returned in subsequent episodes, and then eventually leaves once again (this time by land), though he’ll be back for a final time for the show’s finale.
Toadie and Dee’s Wedding
Another big wedding (and sea incident, but we’ll get to that later)- perennial audience favourite Toadie got married to his first wife Dee in 2003. Unfortunately however, their new found bliss was brought to a swift end in a freak accident. After their limo to their honeymoon broke down, the married pair were offered a community car for the journey, but sadly, the two were too distracted by each other for their own good and Toadie accidentally crashed the car off the road and into the ocean, and only he escaped alive. Dee eventually did come back however- first in dream sequences experienced by Toadie, and then for real as it was explained she did in fact survive the plunge.
For the show’s 35th Anniversary, a run episodes in 2020 aired alongside special extra episodes dubbed Neighbours: Endgame, that saw the conclusion of the storyline focusing on character Finn Kelly’s redemption arc. While we don’t know if Neighbours decided to copy The Avengers with the Endgame moniker, what we do know is that by the end of the special run of episodes, there had been five weddings, three deaths, and a host of other off the wall scenarios like killer snakes and bomb explosions.
The Plane Crash
Soaps tend to let fly when an anniversary rolls around, and for the 20th in 2005, Neighbours decided it was time for a dramatic plane crash storyline. Bomb plots in TV became all the rage in the early 2000s, and one on the show caused a plane carrying characters David, Liljana and Serena to explode and crash, with them all perishing. As you might expect, the daring plotline became highly controversial in Australia, with some calling it entertraining, others calling it ridiculous, and there were scenes cut because it was thought they would go too far for the soap’s time slot.
The First Gay Wedding On Australian TV
Following the legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia, the country’s biggest soap marked the occasion several months later with the marriage of David Tanaka to Arraon Brennan. The episode featured one of the country’s most prominent marriage equality campaigner Magda Szubanski appear alongside them, with Magda saying “When me and my gay mates were watching Charlene and Scott get married in 1987, we would never have dreamt there would be a gay wedding on Neighbours.” The duet Especially for You by Kylie and Jason Donovan also played during the ep.
The Weird Dog Dream
Yes, you read that right- in one of the show’s more bizarre moments, a 1990 episode had the action halt to focus on the canine of the hour, Bouncer, a dog who had featured on the show and apparently at one point earned more than human actors (Was he paid in dog biscuits? Sausages? Frisbees?) and was worth up to $200,000. The show went all Twin Peaks and decided to show a dream sequence experienced showing Bouncer being stroked by another dog and sitting in a kennel (supposedly getting married), and the dream took up nearly a full minute of the runtime. Maybe it contained clues to some grand conspiracy in Ramsay Street, or perhaps (and more likely) it was a total waste of time. Cute dog though.
The 2014 Tornado
Another crazy disaster, The Erinsborough Tornado tore through the Neighbours world causing a lot of trouble. The twister was promoted as a life changing event for several characters, and began when a storm hit Erinsborough and soon formed into a tornado. The whirlwind story, stretched across several episodes left residents like Paul Robinson and Lou Carpenter with ambiguous fates, and there were plenty of dramatic moments like Daniel proposing to Amber, Paul’s rescue and other bits to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Final Episode- (at least, we hope it’s good!)
Well okay, we can’t say for sure whether the finale will be good or bad (they’re notoriously hard to pull off), but for Neighbours fans it’ll certainly be memorable, so we’re putting it on the list. Not only is it sadly the end of one of Australia’s biggest pop culture contributions after nearly four decades, the special double episode will also see the return of some of the biggest faces to the soap, like Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), Shane Ramsay (Peter O’Brien) and Paige Smith (Olympia Vallance). But it’ll also see some of those big celebrity faces coming back, like Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, and Guy Pearce. Whatever happens, it’ll be a star studded celebration.
THE FINAL EPISODE OF NEIGHBOURS AIRS ON MONDAY 1ST AUGUST