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"Why We Watch Neighbours"

Guest penny lane

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source: http://www.radiotimes.com/content/features/neighbours/

When it comes to Neighbours, it's more socially acceptable to admit an addiction to, say, Pot Noodles, or Lambrusco. There's no debate around the watercooler for the Neighbours fan. No discussions on the bus. No Christmas Day special. Neighbours is a lonely pleasure.

It's the Cinderella of soap operas - never seen at glitzy TV awards shows, unaccountably snubbed by every magazine's soap round-up, as if watching Neighbours might be somehow grubby, embarrassing, even suspect. As minority an interest as nude morris dancing.

Yet "fan" is too small a word for us loyal underground viewers. Like followers of some misunderstood religion, our silent dedication practised over so many eventful years, "devotee" might suit us better. Actually, Love Thy Neighbours would be a more fitting title for the programme.

And while few dare mention our simple pleasure to another living soul, there are surely more of us than the Establishment has dared imagine. Why is our soap so disrespected? Neighbours is rudely cancelled at the drop of a hat - or the very first whop of a Wimbledon tennis ball. Our programme disappears for weeks. Every Christmas - gone.

In fact, nothing is so unimportant that they will not cancel Neighbours for it - once to watch a damp Tim Henman fan eating tuna sandwiches, even as Stuart Parker's life hung in the balance! There he was, trapped under rising water, struggling to stay alive with a handy snorkel.

See, you just wouldn't get that story anywhere else. Neighbours scriptwriters veer unpredictably between comforting inanity to what we call "magic mushroom" plotlines, worthy of any French surrealist art house film. As long as it's cheap. We've had psychotic murderous twins, sexy nuns, wrestling solicitors, suburban sheep…fantastic.

But the ultimate reason we watch Neighbours is its towering moral sense, something quite missing in soaps like EastEnders, which hog the limelight. You don't watch Neighbours and want to shoot yourself.

Sure, there may be more accidents/problems/lost family members/maniacs per square inch than most streets, but in the end, goodness will triumph. Understanding, tolerance, sheer compassion for one's neighbours will prevail. The sweet tears of justice stain your cheeks. Harold's pompous, judgmental jowls might be set a-wobbling, but even the most bankrupt soul is never beyond redemption. All ugly ducklings become princesses. Geeks become, er, spunks. Even the worst actor can squeeze a sympathetic sob - even Paul Robinson, who weeps like a two-year-old whose balloon has burst.

Plus, the UN should take note of Neighbours' supreme conflict resolution. It might take weeks of tedious plodding, but we are patient. Everything will be all right in the end. How much better and uplifting than seeing your favourite characters mown down, beaten up, divorced or betrayed.

Fair dinkums, Neighbours may not be exactly educational, but your vocabulary increases - all round bonzer.

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Hmmm... not sure I concur... most Uni students I know will happily and openly admit to watching it daily and be proud of the fact. Both genders. :P

That said, back at school admitting to watching it would probably cause as much ridicule as public morris dancing.

Granted, I'm not sure if that proves that Neighbours is quality television or if we students have just lost the will to remain 'cool' :P Either way, it's still a bit of light-hearted entertainment of a daytime.

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In my circles, it's more shameful to be a fan of H&A :P. I'm in Australia though... Neighbours is Melbourne based, and so are most of the comedians and such that perpetuate popular culture, so Neighbours is sort of a national institution. To watch, is to be proud of your heritage :P. It's the same reason people fawn over Kylie for saying "La la la" over and over and over again... well, that and the hotpants...

Heck, even my favourite band, Crowded House, sang a song about the importance of Neighbours (satirical though it may have been...). It's called "My Telly's Gone Bung," and asks the question "What am I to do about Kylie and Jason now?" - fully confident that most Aussies would get the reference.

Harold Bishop, Toady, Scott & Sharline (sp?), Dr Karl and Bouncer are all household names... and as for Paul Robinson... well I hope that writer meant that the character was bad, and we still love him...

I don't think there's any shame in being a Neighbours fan in Australia. Maybe in England it's a different case, but I wouldn't know about that. It's a great show with excellent actors, writing, and spin-off icons... Sing it loud and proud, I say :D

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