Neighbours 2014: Top Ten Best Bits

It’s been a great year for Neighbours, so much so we wanted to celebrate the best bits of the year. We think 2014 was the year Neighbours really cemented itself as a soap in great shape. 2015 looks set to be even better, but let’s take a look back at our favourite bits of this year.

10 – Neighbours Tornado!

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When Neighbours announced a tornado storyline, a lot of fans were unsurprisingly worried. How would this ever be managed on the small budget on the show? The answer is quite well indeed! Set aside what felt like hours of Amber whining, what we got was a slick, well shot story. Cleverly making use of Power Road and great design effects, it was brilliant to see the roof torn off Amber’s car as the tornado waged destruction on Grease Monkeys. More impressive however was the aftermath. That incredible shot of Ramsay Street, the morning after, wrecked and a shell of its usual self had a brilliant visual impact and the attention to detail was stunning. Even better was the fact that the tornado served as a catalyst for the reveal of the kiss – one of the biggest plots of the year – making it clear that Neighbours could nail both style and substance.

9 – Kyle and Georgia’s Wedding

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Who doesn’t love a good wedding? They’re a soap staple and this year it was the turn of Kyle and Georgia to get hitched. Sure it wasn’t without its disasters – like Georgia ending up stranded before the wedding – but all in all it was a cute and refreshingly happy day. We’ve not been too fond of plots where these two have struggled with problems in their relationship but keeping them together and in fun plots seems to have worked well for them. Plus we’ll never forget their hilarious attempts at role play to keep the spark after their honeymoon. Really funny stuff. We know there will be Canning drama ahead but we hope they keep the new Mr and Mrs Canning happy together.

8 – Kate Ramsay Shot Dead

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How do you solve a problem like Kate Ramsay? Apparently you shoot her in the back. Kate had been one of the more divisive characters in the show with some loving her but others were long tired of her various romantic pursuits and victim status. When it was announced that Ashleigh Brewer would be bowing out of the she and Scott McGregor would be returning for a guest stint, a happy ending was a foregone conclusion surely? Except it didn’t happen. In a shock twist, Kate was gunned down by Victor Cleary, as vengeance for Paul killing his brother Gus ten years prior. Such exits are not what we expect from the traditionally “safe” Neighbours but that rareness is what made it work. Surprising, exciting and emotive, we have to praise the show for pulling the rug from below us and giving Kate the iconic exit no one expected.

7 – Coward Punch

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Chris being knocked out by a drunken punch by Josh got a bit preachy at times but it was a well written story that seemed to divide viewers. While we were a bit fed up to see Chris in hospital again, it was impossible not to feel his plight as he struggled to cope following his head injury. We were pleasantly surprised at how sympathetic Josh came across too and his pained regret meant we were relieved at his lesser sentence. James Mason and Harley Bonner did a fantastic job with this morally grey issue so it was an easy highlight of the year.

6 – The Josh and Naomi Affair

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This time last year Josh was up there with our most disliked characters. Then a magical thing happened: the Jamber love story ended and Josh became likeable. Then, quicker than it takes to strip in a lift, Josh indulged a little no-strings hook up with newcomer and amazing older woman Naomi. We were totally hooked. They were funny, flirty and sexy and they actually seemed pretty great for one another. We enjoyed every second. Of course it wasn’t to last and we were sad to see it finish, especially because the inevitable prospect of losing Josh to Amber’s charisma black hole is something we dread when he’s now one of our favourites.

5 – The Book of Secrets

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The saucy Fifty Shades tribute started out as a simple throwaway comedy plot which grew and grew into a hilarious long running comedy plot involving so many characters and in-jokes. Easily one of the greatest things Neighbours did this year and it just seemed somehow so wrong yet so right that Karl would be the one behind the kinky tale. Not only did it give us great Kennedy moments, it left many of the residents flustered including our favourite Sheila who begun having saucy dreams about Lou and then Paul! It’s the type of comedy Neighbours is so good at and we hope this isn’t the end for The Book of Secrets!

4 – The Kennedys

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In 2014 the show celebrated twenty years of the Kennedy family and what a celebration it was! Karl and Susan recovered from a very quiet 2013 by coming to fore once more with a great mix of everyday drama and classic, inimitable Kennedy comedy. Jackie and Alan were as ever in their element and it was fantastic to see the spotlight shine on them once more. Not only this but we were overjoyed to see returns from Zeke, Mal and in particular, Libby and Ben made overdue and welcome returns. And as the year ended, Karl and Susan in true Kennedy form took in a new stray in the form of troubled Nate. The pinnacle of the anniversary came in the form of a special episode, filled to the brim with flashbacks and references to the past. It was a touching look back at the characters’ amazing history and an absolute joy to watch.

3 – Brad and Terese’s marriage woes

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The arrival of Paige Smith had a massive impact on the show and characters but no more so than the effect she had on Terese and Brad’s marriage. What once seemed like one of the most stable marriages in the street slowly but surely began to break down in a series of lies, hurt, mistakes and arguments – and understandably so! Brad’s betrayal caused Terese’s deeply hidden insecurities to bubble to the surface and it wasn’t long before they pair’s relationship grew toxic and bitter. By year’s end, we loved hearing that their relationship was born from an affair and getting some much needed backstory on the family. In addition, Terese has quickly become one of the show’s most fascinating characters and been a real star throughout 2014.

2 – Rebecchi struggles

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It was a big, big year for the Rebecchi family this year as they waved goodbye to Callum and faced their biggest hurdle in the form of minxy Naomi Canning. What we loved most however was that this wasn’t a cliché affair story – far from it. The reason we really loved the Rebecchis this year was the fact that it brought some of the best character-driven writing the show has seen in a long time. Eve and Ryan delivered as always and cemented their place as one of the show’s most iconic couples. Sonya’s addictions and backstory have a constant impact on every move she makes and it’s been incredible to witness the contributed exploration of such a complex character. Toadie’s loyalty to his wife was both moving, and much welcome in the modern day soap era of affairs and betrayal. Time and again we got powerful, raw and superbly performed scenes and we can only hope 2015 remains as strong for this fantastic family.

1 – Paige Smith Revealed as Lauren and Brad’s Child

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One of the most engaging and interesting stories this year had to be Paige Smith’s arrival and subsequent reveal as Lauren and Brad’s long lost daughter. It was a story that rocked both families before she even appeared on screen and her reveal set a chain of events that totally transformed the Turner and Willis families. Not only were the reveal scenes beautifully played and gripping, but Olympia Valance has made a fantastic addition to the cast. Paige is gutsy and headstrong and we love her interactions with her new siblings. We hope to see more of the same great material for Paige in 2015.

Neighbours VS Zombies!

If you didn’t already know, last week in the run up to Halloween, the official Neighbours YouTube Channel posted an exclusive webseries – Neighbours VS Zombies. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. But what makes it even better is that those zombies weren’t just generic brain eaters – no –  they were characters we know and love who lost their lives in Ramsay Street, rising from the dead. We were so impressed by the series we decided to write up our views, episode by episode.

Episode 1 (watch)

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From the first glimpse of the blood-splattered Ramsay Street sign, and the sight of Paul, Amber and Hope besieged by zombies, it was clear we were in for something special. While we were none too happy to see Mason again, the first webisode was a stellar introduction to the series. Sleek and beautifully shot, things only improved by the arrival of Hope Gottlieb (in a surprisingly natural performance from newcomer and YouTube personality, Louna Maroun) and the wonderful return of Stingray, a much missed classic character. Special mention must go to the iconic and underrated David Bishop, the brilliant shot of the graveyard and of course, the incredible version of the theme song complete with terrific vocals and lyric changes. It puts the current version of the theme tune to shame and we suggest the show take some cues and introduce a softer rock version for the main show. And maybe without reference to eating brains…

Favourite Quote:

Toadie: Deeeeeeeeeee! D is for Daddy!

Episode 2 (watch)

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This episode such a hilarious start with David catching up on everything that had happened in the ten years he’s been dead (as UK residents the Tony Abbot joke went over our heads but we’re reassured by Aussies that it was very funny). Both David and Stingray thought they must be being pranked by other Timmins family members and we loved all the references to the past. The jokes were so meta – about some things never changing like Toadie living next door – that we could have watched over and over to enjoy the references. Bailey offering his nerdy views were a nice touch too and we loved Stingray meeting up with his cousin Toadie and seeing Sonya for the first time.

Favourite Quote:

Toadie: Maybe the same thing that happened to Harold might’ve…

David: What? Losing my memory and living in Tasmania?

Episode 3 (watch)

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DREWWWW! That was our major thought of episode three as we saw the zombie return of Libby’s dead husband. Episode three had a fantastic mix of laugh-out-loud humour and touching drama as Toadie thought about Dee and Drew coped with knowing he’d missed out on so much. We never thought we’d be moved so much in a zombie web series! The David and Stingray dynamic was fantastic and made us miss the desperately. Robbo’s return was perfectly tense and scary and it saw the death of Mason – win win. We loved all the in-jokes again, like Karl’s superpower medical abilities, Stingray being cremated and it was nice to see cousins Georgia and Stingray meet for the first time onscreen.  And what a cliffhanger – Susan!

Favourite Quote:

Susan: Four people from the one street – what are the odds!

Episode 4 (watch)

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Following on from the shocking cliffhanger of part three, part four really ramped up the drama and created the scariest and most emotional instalment yet. When this series was announced, I doubt many of us expected to be moved as Karl held his dying wife (a terrifying though), or to see Toadie yell at the sea for Dee’s return supported by his loving wife. It was great to see the old Paul and David rivalry fired up too and Stingray continued to make us laugh. For us the most powerful moment was noble Drew sacrificing himself and recording a video for his beloved Libby and Ben. ‘Old Mountain Thyme’ was a great treat for the long term viewer and had us weeping! And finally, the return of Dee, after so many years, was a horrific and frightening moment that turned the expectations of fans on their heads in the most grim way possible!

Favourite Quote:

Stingray: I need to eat.

Karl: The canteen’s still open.

Stingray: Aw, sweet!

Episode 5 (watch)

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Part 5 was a fitting conclusion to the series with enough to get our teeth stuck into (pardon the pun) but leaving the conclusion to our imagination. We really liked Hope and her mention of her dad Todd Landers although like her we wished we’d seen him too! It was a great touch that Robbo got hit by a car again and we loved Kyle’s little cameo (and zombie Kate Ramsay creeping up on him!). Having Paul behind the whole zombie rise was perfect and really, who else could it have been? It was a nice touch to have him do it for his own selfish, grieving reasons – wanting to bring back Kate and Cameron and Priya. We loved that the ending was left open (more please!) and we hope David can have a lovely family reunion with zombie Lil and Serena.

Favourite Quote:

Susan: Why am I not surprised? Paul Robinson responsible for the end of mankind. Would have made a good headline.

We adored the webisodes, as you can tell and the creative team behind it did an incredible job. The acting was excellent, the script witty and clever and it made us miss all our long dead favourites so desperately. Make sure you watch! We have everything crossed in the hopes of another series.

Scene of the Week – 13-17 Oct 2014

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Selecting a scene of the week easing easy but in such a momentous week of the Kennedys, we simply had to award them for the touching scene at the end of Friday’s episode. Surrounded by the mainstays of the show and their eldest son, the Kennedys toasted to their twenty years in Ramsay street. Touching, effective and with just the right amount of cheese, it was a fitting tribute to the good friends and good Neighbours that Karl and Susan are. As the camera panned to the iconic portrait with the three beloved Kennedy children (keep Libby and Mal full-time please!) and finally to the wall of signatures, we were reminded of the multitude of characters who found their ways into the hearts of Karl, Susan and the viewers over the past twenty years. Some memorable (Stingray, Rachel, Zeke) some half forgotten (Sunny, Elly, Taj) but all of them playing a role in the legacy of Karl and Susan. A great scene, a great extended family.