Neighbourshood: We want more!

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Like us, you’ve probably been loving Neighbours YouTube fan show, Neighbourshood, but after ten brilliant episodes it’s come to an end – hopefully not forever. Fronted by the hilarious Ben “Stingray” Nicholas, we looked forward to it every week so here are just a few reasons why it’s so great and needs to return!

Ben Nicholas – The Perfect Presenter

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Where would Neighbourshood be without its excellent host? Ben Nicholas brings every bit of the energy to Neighbourshoood that he brought to the parent show during his tenure. There was a reason why Stingray was a breakout favourite of his era: Ben has such a natural charm and charisma that he remains a pleasure to watch all these years later. He clearly has a great relationship with the longtime cast he knew from his original stint and quickly seems to have gelled with the slew of newer cast who joined in the years inbetween. He also has a real affinity and affection for Neighbours and that shines through every segment. To be honest, tongue in cheek as it is, we really do wish Neighbours could believably bring back Stingray. His natural comedic skills would be an asset to the show in any era. But with that impossible, we’d love to see him get a chance to wreak more havoc behind the scenes in a second series!

Seeing Cast Favourites in a New Light

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One of the things we’ve loved most about Neighbourshood is seeing a number of the cast getting a chance to shine in a way that we’ve never seen them before. Away from playing the characters onscreen, it’s been so much fun to see more of the people behind the actors. Different from the Q&A videos of the past, we loved how natural, relaxed and improvised Ben’s chats with the various cast members have been. Whether it be the cast getting being absolutely terrified by Ben’s pranks, their faux (and sometimes real!) horror at being named the weeks’ caketaker or best of all, the co-host aspect – it’s been so entertaining! The latter in particular never failed to make us smile as Ben’s chemistry with the cast removed any sense of awkwardness or stiltedness and frankly, we could’ve watched several hours of Ben and Rebekah Elmaloglou messing about and falling off chairs!

The In-Jokes

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The best part of having a fan show is being able to involve the existing fandom with jokes and winks that include them. Neighbourshood did this perfectly with references to ‘Terage’, the Brennans being topless, many of Susan’s adoptees ending up dead and other references just for fans. And don’t ask us why, but Mavournee Hazel playing the tuba, ala Harold Bishop, during the credits just cracked us up every time. This is a fan show made for the geeky fans like us who love all of the little Neighbours quirks and we love that Neighbours aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

The Pranks

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One of the highlights of Neighbourshood without doubt has been the weekly pranking of the cast. Yes, it’s simple, yes, it’s silly and it’s downright hilarious. One would think knowing Ben is on set would raise the guards of the cast but it would seem not as Ben effortlessly week after week frightened the life out of a number of cast. We loved that it didn’t feel fake, forced or put-on for the camera for the sake of a funny segment – he clearly did manage to terrify them and the reactions provided some absolutely hilarious moments. Our favourite? It doesn’t get much better than Rebekah Elmaloglou in episode 1 literally running away from masked Ben, screaming and launching into an expletive-laden attack on Ben. Hilarious!

The #BringBackStingray Skits

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Never, in the history of all soap, have we wanted to undo a death so badly as we do Stingray, seriously who cares about believability or the fact Stingray’s ashes were scattered, we want him back. Neighbourshood took the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how possible (or plausible) this idea might be in a series of campaign pleas by Ben and granted, it’s not very likely but the sketches were brilliant. The best one? As much as we loved the first one, with Ben recreating the infamous death scene and getting a diagnosis from wonder Doc, Karl, it had to be the witness protection idea. Of course that involved the other fan favourite talking point – is Dee still alive?! In this skit Toadie had Dee in the basement and Stingray had to go into witness protection for his own safety when he learnt about the cover up! Now if only that were real…

Caketaker of the Week

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There was someone oddly satisfying about seeing the cast be presented with a nice cake and then be read a series of mean(ish) tweets about their character. Not only did we love the name of the feature, taking us back to the days of spiggin’ huftas and the glorious Timmins family, but the feature gave us a good laugh seeing the cast – sometimes hopelessly – defend their character. It was especially funny when the cast weren’t expecting their behaviour to be judged so harshly and they were left sheepishly smiling, just like Kip Gamblin who has to play useless Brad!

So there we have it – six very good reasons why Neighbourshood was so great and why it deserves more episodes! Make it happen please Neighbours!

Our Top 5 Neighbours Moments Ever

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In celebration of Neighbours’ 30th Anniversary we decided to put together a list of our Top 5 Neighbours moments of all time. Considering neither of us were alive in 1985, we can only really remember about 20 years’ worth so you’ll have to forgive some early omissions (sorry Scott and Charlene) as our focus is on those iconic moments from the nineties and noughties. There were lots of moments that narrowly missed out in our Top 5 (ranked by year, not by merit) but we hope you enjoy our choices!

Susan slaps Karl (Episode 3110, 1998) – [watch clip]

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Ask any Neighbours fan, casual or die hard, to name their top five most memorable moments of the last 30 years and we’re certain 99% of them will describe one powerful Neighbours scene, universally known to all as ‘The Slap’. Few soap scenes gain such a legacy, such a memorable tag that two words are enough to let any other fan know exactly what they’re referring. The build up was fantastic, as Karl exchanged a kiss with Sarah Beaumont in the 1997 finale – a simple kiss that led to one of Karl and Susan’s most iconic stories and arguably the story that truly put the Kennedy family on the map and cemented their role as legends in the making. As Susan discovered Karl’s deceit, she was overcome with emotion and Jackie Woodburne sold it to hell and back, Despite the fact that Karl and Susan had only been on a few years, Jackie and Alan succeeded in making a really believable pairing and to see it ripped apart was fantastic TV. As Susan tore her husband apart, her anger erupted in a vicious slap that was destined to go down in the Neighbours’ history books. Vicious and raw, you felt like you were really experiencing Susan’s fury. A scene often imitated by many a soap but never bettered, ‘The Slap’ will always remain an unforgettable memory in the history of the show.

The Lassiters’ Fire (Episode 4630, 2004) – [watch clip]

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The 2004 Neighbours finale certainly was an explosive one! Not only did it see the whole of the Lassiters complex burn to the ground, losing the iconic Coffee Shop and Lou’s Place pub, but it also saw the return of legendary Paul Robinson – in a roll neck sweater murdering Gus Cleary no less! It was one of the most dramatic stunts that Neighbours have ever done and sad for us and the characters to watch their livelihoods and favourite places turn to ash – especially moving for poor Lou and Harold. The tension didn’t just end there as the Ramsay Street residents knew Stuart and Sindi were still inside the burning building. Both of them were fine, of course, except for Stuart’s brief, obligatory blindness plot. It was an amazing way to end 2004, leading to another gripping year of Neighbours. We also love that ten years on this plot was revisited when Gus Cleary’s brother murdered Paul’s niece Kate in revenge for the death of Gus all those years ago.

Karl finally learns of Izzy’s lies (Episode 4772, 2005)

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Right in the middle of the fantastic 20th Anniversary week, Neighbours pulled out such a satisfying moment in the Izzy and Karl saga that it had to make our Top 5. Izzy and Karl’s relationship had been a real slow burn and watching the Kennedys divorce was heart breaking for viewers, but while Karl played happy families with his precious, devious “Isabelle” we all knew she was playing him for a fool. Desperate to cling onto Karl after he found out her miscarried baby wasn’t his, she lied saying that Guy Cleary had raped her and Karl – being the lovestruck idiot he was – believed her! This classic moment we’ve picked came just after Karl overheard Izzy telling her brother Max that she’d lied to Karl – claiming she had no choice. Karl overheard everything and Izzy was left to chase him outside and was humiliated on the Lassiters complex in front of everyone. A truly satisfy climax to a long running story with Izzy, an incredible soap bitch, finally getting the comeuppance she deserved.

The plane crash (Episodes 4836 – 4838, 2005) – [watch clip]

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Now, it’s no secret that Neighbours’ 2005-2007 era isn’t looked back on for its great storytelling. By the show’s own admission, it was a period where plot was often placed before character and big, bombastic plots replaced character-led story. In many ways, the plane crash signalled this change in direction and while we could talk for days about the mistake of killing off the Bishops and lack of proper aftermath, it would be wrong to lump the plane crash in with what came after. Technically, it was an incredible feat and something yet to be matched. Given the show’s small budget, to stage a plane crash was a fantastic achievement and what was even better, was that we could overlook any budgetary constraints due to some wonderful directing. The eerie silence as the plane veered towards Bass Strait, the outpouring of emotions and ‘I love you’s’ were exchanged, Izzy choosing Karl over Paul, Susan promising Alex that Karl would protect Zeke and Rachel – all brilliant. We can remember our hearts in our mouths as rivals Izzy and Susan found each other in the water, and Izzy’s haunting screams when Susan disappeared. The choral music, the grief from those left behind and Janelle’s vision of Dylan were all highlights but for our money, the most moving moment was the realisation that Serena was overcome by the waves and slipped away, never to be found. While we believe David and Lil were gone too soon, Serena’s exit remains one of Neighbours’ most powerful.

Stingray Timmins dies (Episode 5174 – 5175, 2007)

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Finally, in our Top 5 Neighbours moments we’ve chosen a really poignant and moving episode which we’ll always remember – the tragic death of Scott “Stingray” Timmins. Stingray was a hugely popular Neighbours character who, with his bogan family, brought chaos, laughter and catchphrases (caketaker!) to Ramsay Street. In many ways, this made his death even sadder. Viewers had just seen Stingray be a donor for his niece Kerry (and the operation had been a success for all involved) and there were celebrations all round for Janelle’s “39th” birthday, but as Stingray sat down and fell quiet, his family and friends mistakenly believed him to be asleep. As family and friends partied around him obliviously, Stingray had died from a brain aneurysm. Heartbreaking! In a wonderful touch, the next episode showed a video message Stingray had recorded for Kerry, talking her through each and every family member. We all, the Timmins family included, watched through tears. To this day we still think it’s a real shame Stingray was killed off, but if there is a silver lining is that we got to see him again in the incredible Neighbours Vs Zombies spin off!

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.