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The final episode of the Australian soap Neighbours will be broadcast on Channel 5 this evening after almost 40 years on the small screen.
The show, which launched the careers of international megastars including Kylie Minogue, Liam Hemsworth, Jason Donovan and Margot Robbie, was dropped by the channel in March amid dwindling ratings. This left “a funding gap” as Channel 5 was a key broadcast partner in the series, explained the BBC.
Fremantle Media, the production company behind the sun-soaked series, failed to find a new home for the teatime soap and confirmed in March that Neighbours would cease production in June.
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Almost 70,000 people signed a petition demanding the series to carry on, describing Neighbours as “more than just a TV show – it is a source of comfort and entertainment for generations of fans who have watched it for decades”.
The aim of tonight’s hour-long special is to give a "group hug" to fans who have grown up with the show, executive producer Jason Herbison told the BBC. The Guardian said to prepare for an “unapologetically nostalgic schmoozefest packed with flashbacks and reunions”.
The soap, which first aired in 1985, has stretched credulity with its plot lines over the years, but they kept fans hooked. The Week looks at a few of the most bizarre.
Dee’s evil twin
Doomed bride Dee Bliss (Madeleine West) married show favourite Toadie Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) in 2003, but she met a tragic end on her wedding day when her new husband accidentally drove their car off a cliff. Her body was never found and she was presumed dead – until she returned almost 14 years later, claiming to have suffered amnesia.
But in a shocking twist, Dee turned out to be a lookalike named Andrea Somers, determined to con Toadie out of his life savings.
West would end up playing two characters at the same time in 2019 when Dee “really did return from the dead” after living in hiding having witnessed a gang murder, setting the scene for a “clifftop showdown” between Dee and Andrea, said HuffPost. It was later revealed that the pair were in fact identical twins, separated at birth.
While the good-vs.-evil twin plot line was the “most bonkers soap plot in years” it was nevertheless “a total triumph”, said Laura Denby of Radio Times.
A fatal balloon crash
Four fan favourites were left fighting for their lives in 2016 after a fatal balloon crash that killed off minor character Regan Davis (Sabeena Manalis).
Recently released criminal Jacka Hills (Brad McMurray) sabotaged the gas canisters on a hot air balloon after discovering Ned Willis (Ben Hall) had slept with his wife Regan and “set about taking revenge” against him and his family, said HuffPost.
“His plan was to sabotage the gas canisters on a hot air balloon his step-mum, Lauren Turner (Kate Kendall), sisters Piper Willis (Mavournee Hazel) and Paige Smith (Olympia Valance) and ex-girlfriend Elly Conway (Jodi Gordon) were set to enjoy a ride on,” explained the online news site. But his wife Regan boarded the flight at the last second.
Paige bailed out of the balloon early, only to be found suffering from hypothermia by her love interest, amnesiac priest Jack Callahan (Andrew Morley). He took her to a nearby shed to warm up – “and warm up they did, as they ended up having sex and conceiving a baby”.
A tornado and a tracheotomy
A tornado ripped through Erinsborough in 2014 and left long-standing character Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver) fighting for his life after the coffee shop roof collapsed on him.
Making her way through the rubble, Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) discovers Lou choking and turning blue. With the emergency services not able to reach the scene due to the tornado, Susan calls her husband, Dr Karl (Karl Kennedy), who gives her instructions on how to perform an emergency tracheotomy over the phone.
Harold swept out to sea
In 1991, Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) was swept out to sea while on a coastal walk with his wife Madge (Anne Charleston), leaving nothing behind but a pair of his glasses.
But five years later, Harold makes a shock return to Ramsay Street, and we learn that “he was suffering from amnesia and now went by [the name of] Ted, a tuba player in the Salvation Army band”, explained The Sydney Morning Herald. Madge nursed him back to health, his memory eventually returned and he became one of the longest-running characters in the show’s history.
In 1990, Neighbours aired what the Daily Mirror called a “barking mad” dream sequence, in which Bouncer, the Mangel family’s labrador, had a fantasy that he was marrying Rosie, the border collie who lived next door.
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