30 years ago an Australian soap started and it wasn’t too long after that (maybe the Summer of 1987 as it didn’t screen in the UK until 1986) that I started watching it one afternoon in the holidays as my mum and sisters were watching it. From then on I was hooked and when I returned to school it was recorded on video before the BBC got wind of its popularity and stuck it on at tea-time as well.
Even though I no longer watch it, I still have a lot of affection for the show that I consumed regularly between 1985-1995 and 2001-2003. Unlike many people, I actually stopped watching it when I went to University but I really got back into it when I went on a years working holiday in Australia in 2001.
One of my priorities was of course to visit the street where it’s filmed which I did twice during those twelve months and again on my return to Melbourne in 2007 and 2012. One other memorable night took place in January 2002 when I went to the ‘Meet the Neighbours night’ and thanks to the journal which I kept (now available online here) at the time it is now possible to recall the events of that night.
Having popped along to St Kilda for lunch and to see which stars were going to be at that nights ‘Meet The Neighbours Night‘, I later on paid $30 at Hotel Bakpak for my ticket to this event. Richard Richard had already booked his ticket and we later got Robbie to follow suit and then at 6:45 pm a double decker bus picked us up to take us to the Elephant & Wheelbarrow pub in St Kilda.
We met a girl called Hayley on the bus who was then lucky (?) to have the pleasure of our company all night. A glass of wine was included in the price and many pints of beer soon followed and that was before the ‘Neighbours‘ stars of past and present had even arrived on stage!
The ‘Neighbours‘ were Madeleine West (Dee/Dionne), Mark Rafferty (Dr Darcy), Ian Rawlings (Phil Martin) and Carla Bonner (Steph Scully) who consequently took it in turn to walk around all the tables and meet and greet each and every audience member of what was a predominately British crowd. Of course we had our photographs taken with each one and “Dee” was over to our little table first. Typically, things didn’t run smoothly and there was a bit of a hiccup for me as the batteries on my camera (pre-digital era!) chose the worst time to run out! Thankfully, I managed to rectify the situation and get my camera working for the rest of the night (as proved by the photos!) though I can’t remember how!
Also happening while the stars were making their way round the room (each accompanied by a body guard) was a quiz which we missed entirely and two competitions of which Richard Richard entered both. One was to assemble a tent and and the other was to sing the ‘Neighbours‘ theme tune with him failing miserably at both!
At 1:30 am I was completely mullered and left with Robbie and Hayley (Richard Richard had already done his usual disappearing act by then!) but I thought it better to walk rather than get a taxi with them as I had nowhere to stay and needed to kill time.
As it was, I completely blanked out and ended up sleeping on a bench somewhere near Middle Park (close to Albert Park which is where the Australian Formula One Grand Prix is held each year) on the way back to the city. It was still dark when I woke up and fell off the bench! I then proceeded to walk down the tram track for a long while when I was surprised to hear a tram approaching in the distance. I was unaware of the time and didn’t think they’d be running yet but when I boarded the tram I was very shocked to discover that it was already 6:15 am!
In my (still) drunken state I had a McDonalds breakfast and ended up getting a couple of hours sleep in the TV room at Hotel Bakpak before Richard Richard woke me up. He too had no idea how he’d got back!
Click here to see the Ramsay Street filming locations from my last visit in 2012