This page may contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Yep! We did it! I’m not ashamed. In fact some of you may know my (not so) secret. I love Neighbours. Always have. Since the golden days of Scott and Charlene, through all the years, catching it whenever I was home over a lunchtime or in early enough. Then when the horrific news came up that the BBC was ditching it, I realised quite how much I loved it when sheer panic set in. Thank god for Channel 5, taking it on and even better than that, creating a weekend omnibus. Oh happy days, that has meant I can dip into it more often than before. Granted I don’t have time in my life to watch the full 3 or so hours but it does mean I can keep on top of things by having it on in the background or by recording it and skimming through it. Yes I do. It’s sad I know, but hey everyone has their own thing – lots of people get addicted to things such as 24, Lost or Sex and the City, West Wing. Not me. I don’t want to get caught up in those end of series cliff hangers that gets everyone so obsessed. I prefer to wait only a few days to find out what’s going to happen in some teenagers love life now they’ve found out that their boyfriend is really their brother.
So, when in Melbourne – as if I wouldn’t do the Neighbours tour. The kind of thing I’d find sad and distasteful for any other programme – I just couldn’t resist.
First came the tour. This involved getting bused out to the channel 10 studios and Ramsey Street by our jaunty, northern Irish tour guide. It was quite a drive out and interesting to find he talked on a handle held microphone all the way there, as he drove! The sets at the studio were incy and instantly recognisable – well to me anyhow. Mark hasn’t actually watched neighbours for 20 years but was still super excited as he likes tv and film sets and by the end of the day decided he should be given a part on Neighbours as he would like that as a job. He was hoping to be discovered. Hmm.
Anyhow, it was funny to see how the lassiters lake complex is actually a small pond with a walkway. I was super excited to see Harolds Store – I mean the man is a legend!!
As an aside highlight, they also still have fake windows with bars on windows from the days of Prisoner Cell Block H. Plus one of the side doors to the studio was used as main entrance. I so miss Prisoner – they should so bring it back. Let’s start a campaign!!
It was also suprising to learn that they use every inch of the studio grounds to film outside scenes whenever possible. So a scene where people were protesting outside a laboratory gates – filmed at the studios gates. A scene where someone’s stuck in roadworks driving to a new job – just filmed on the small road inside the studio grounds. I love both the cheapness and the ingenuity of it!
As the guide pointed out, our imagination fills in the blanks.
After that it was off to Ramsey Street (not real name of course) with a few cheap street name props and lots of enthusiasm. Mark had no idea, but sadly I could fill him in on who ‘lived’ in each house. In fact by the end of the day I was quite alarmed by the fact that every single time the guide referenced an episode (and that was a lot), I’d seen it. I’m not sure how. I have been going to work for the last 15 years. Worrying.
They now have 24 hour security at the street due to some instances in the last few years with joyriding, drunks and fornicating. The poor home owners – apart from one house that the studio owns, all the homes are owned by normal people.
Mark, of course, wants to buy one.
The next part of our Neighbours experience was the nighttime event held in a St Kilda pub every Monday night. This involves the host (and creator of the tours and night, Safari Pete, hosting an evening with a pub quiz with general knowledge and a little Neighbours trivia thrown in. They also rope in (or rather pay handsomely) a couple of ‘stars’ from the show, past or present. They then also have music, usually provided by Dr Karl Kennedy (aka Alan Fletcher) and his band The Waiting Room or sometimes Paul Robinson (aka Stefan Dennis of ‘Don’t it make ya feel good’ fame).
We had Irish Connor and Stef Sully (both former cast members) as well as Fletch as he will hence be called in this blog.
I was super excited to see the hero that is Fletch, that I broke my usual rule against photos with famous people. I’d decided during the day that I would break this rule only for Fletch and Nelson Mandela.
Mark, as I mentioned, hasn’t watched it for years, but he was aware of Stef Scully as she had been there when Rachel had gone years ago and thought she was most hot. So he was excited and slightly stalkerish.
They had a bizarre Q & A session which was fairly entertaining, if sometimes a little awkward.
Then the ‘stars’ did the rounds of having there photos taken with everyone. I would have thought the process was rather painful but Fletch worked the room with incredible style – he bizarrely oozes charm and I ended up with a little crush on him. Plus he smelt lovely, and having backpacked for a few months now, it’s been a while since I had a hug from someone who smells nice!
We then had the pub quiz. On our table we had a lad and girl from Portsmouth (not a couple, she’d strangely married someone else a few days earlier) and 3 northern girls who, how can I put this kindly – weren’t the brightest stars in the sky. Well, despite the girls wonderment at how we could possibly know things like ‘what is the capital of Peru’ and ‘what does IQ stand for’, we won. Yey! Of course we won a bunch of Neighbours day tours which were no good to us anyhow but the prestige was enough for me. The fun the descended into the realm of Club 18-30s with singing and dancing competions. Cringey you say? Yes indeed, particularly for me when Mark realised his lady love was to judge the dancing so went up and strutted his stuff. It was seriously quite tragic, but he did come third based on his enthusiasm. Was $100 off a tour from Adelaude to Perth, which again was no good to us so I gave it to the Northern girls. Mark actually had a couple of guys come up to him and pat him on the back afterwards, telling him he was awesome.
Fletchs band, I have to say, were pretty awesome. He was amazingly good and a real crowd-pleaser/live wire on stage. He obviously gets a real buzz from it. I can’t imagine that performing for a bunch of drunken backpackers and tourists (all, bar two Aussies, by the way, were from UK or Ireland) would be all that appealing but he really is quite bonkers. And blue. Naughty Dr Karl said some shocking things about Susan!!!
The original bridge from Lassiters sits unloved and abandoned at the back of the sets. Am considering offering to buy it and shipping it home
Mark entering the dancing competition and dancing in a way he would normally save for behind closed doors
The annoying American guy on reception at the tour place who kept going on about unlike the Brits who’d watched neighbours all their lives, all the actors were normal people to him so when he’s out having coffee with them and people come up to them, he can’t believe it. Insert your own descriptive word for him here. He so loved being a gateway to ‘the stars’!
In the tour office, they had the original painting Helen Daniels did of Mrs Mangel, back in the day.
Fletch/Dr Karl singing ‘Your sex is on fire’ – LEGENDARY!!!!!