Why everybody still needs Neighbours - even after 30 years

Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Anne Charleston and Ian Smith.
Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Anne Charleston and Ian Smith.
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WHETHER it is Scott and Charlene’s wedding, Harold Bishop’s amnesic return from the dead or the sad demise of Bouncer the dog - for Neighbours fans, the last 30 years have been full of Aussie soap gold.

The soap has been the launch pad for numerous pop and Hollywood stars, not least Scott and Charlene themselves, 1980s power couple Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, but also Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe, who appeared in four episodes in 1987, long before Gladiator saw him rocket to stardom.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan's TV wedding.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan's TV wedding.

Tomorrow marks 30 years since the trials and tribulations of Ramsay Street’s residents first hit the screens in Australia.

The opening scene showed Danny Ramsay awakening from a bad dream - but the nightmare certainly wasn’t reflected in the ratings when it was arrived in the UK a year later. It pulled in millions of viewers to the BBCs daytime schedule and an early evening repeat was soon added, capturing a younger after-school audience.

The soap is now shown on Channel 5, its home since 2008, and it is airing four weeks of special episodes in celebration of the birthday. Tomorrow evening it will look back on its biggest stars before showing what could be arguably be the most famous episode of all - Scott and Charlene’s wedding.

Around 20 million people tuned in to watch the couple tie the knot in 1988 and it was so popular with fans that the wedding theme - Suddenly by Angry Anderson - was a top three hit later that year.

Minogue played Charlene Mitchell for two years from 1986 until 1988, before going on to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars - with record sales of more than 70 million worldwide.

Donovan, who played her on-screen boyfriend then husband Scott Robinson, also launched an assault on charts around the globe, having topped the singles listings in Britain four times - once with Minogue in their duet Especially for You.

But they weren’t the only Neighbours stars that went on to have pop careers - Delta Goodrem, Natalie Imbruglia and Holly Valance all hit the charts.

Goodrem, who sold more than six million albums, will be back on Ramsay Street as one of the many stars returning for special anniversary episodes.

And while he may not have claimed the number one spot, actor Alan Fletcher, who plays Dr Karl Kennedy, regularly tours the UK with his band The Waiting Room.

Aside from Crowe, Erinsborough - an anagram of Neighbours - also hailed a host of other Hollywood stars.

Award-winning actor Pearce, who has appeared in films such as LA Confidential and The King’s Speech, played Mike Young for three years from 1986 until 1989.

Actress Margot Robbie played Donna Freedman from 2008 to 2011. She has appeared in films such as About Time and The Wolf of Wall Street, both in 2013, and this year’s Focus alongside Will Smith.

The soap is watched in more than 60 countries around the world, with legions of fans making the trip to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to walk on Ramsey Street itself - a real street with real houses, called Pinoak Court. It seems after 7,083 episodes, 15 births, 34 deaths and 41 marriages, everybody still needs good Neighbours.

Eastenders video tribute to soap counterparts

IN A SCENE that would shock many soap fans, Scott Robinson is bound and gagged - in the Queen Vic.

But Neighbours hasn’t relocated to Walford - rather Jason Donovan helped the cast of Eastenders wish their Australian counterparts a happy birthday.

Last month Neighbours stars paid tribute to the BBC show with a spoof video that saw Susan Kennedy suffer a bump on the head and wake up in East Erinsborough. Now EastEnders has returned the tribute.

Donovan is seen with Ian Beale and Ben Mitchell in Walford before heading to the Vic, where he is kidnapped. The cast and crew then all gather to wish Neighbours a happy anniversary.