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Design: Tina Tiller
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Pop CultureSeptember 3, 2022

Goodbye Neighbours: After 37 years, the Australian soap bows out in style

Design: Tina Tiller
Design: Tina Tiller

Long-time Neighbours fan Tara Ward watches the last ever episode of the iconic Australian soap.

“It’s an ordinary street, in an ordinary neighbourhood, where extraordinary things tend to happen.” That’s how Paul Robinson described Ramsay Street in last night’s final episode of Neighbours, and not a truer word has been spoken by a corrupt businessman with six wives and seven children. After 37 years on our screens, Neighbours could have gone full soap and wiped out the entire suburb of Erinsborough with a plane crash or massive explosion, but instead they gave us a delightfully ordinary finale. It was both bonkers and beautiful, a fitting end to a show that once featured a labrador’s dream sequence.

The finale centred around the wedding of longtime Ramsay Street residents Toadfish and Melanie, but really, the episode belonged to Jane and Mike. Jane Harris arrived in Erinsborough in 1986 to live with Mrs Mangel, but in 2022 she was being proposed to by Clive Gibbons wearing a gorilla suit. Plain Jane Super Brain always deserved more than a monkey offering marriage in a carport. She needed her first love Mike Young to hoon back into Ramsay Street on his motorbike, his mullet blowing in the breeze, ready to admit he never stopped loving her. In true soap style, that’s exactly what she got.

Kudos to Emmy-award winner Guy Pearce for not only returning to Neighbours, but for generously committing to an entire story line like it was a Hollywood blockbuster. Mike and Jane’s gentle reunion was an uplifting, nostalgic nod to the soap’s glory days, as the ex-lovers met again at Lassiters when Jane dropped a box of wedding decorations and Mike picked up her heart. Mrs Mangel was playing with fate from the gates of gossip heaven that day, and from that moment on, the gorilla in the carport was history.

Plenty of familiar faces returned for Toadie and Melanie’s nuptials, like Harold and Des and Mal, Karl and Susan Kennedy’s son. Mal’s fiancee Izzy came with him, the same Izzy who once had a passionate affair with Karl and later gave birth to their child. Susan was too busy reading The History of Ramsay Street to notice that Karl’s daughter was now his step-granddaughter, and Izzy was too busy hooking up with Shane Ramsay, who returned to Erinsborough to buy Lassiters off his best mate Paul Robinson, to care.

Romance was in the air, and when Mike and Jane took a tour through the Ramsay Street houses, four decades of memories came flooding back. They belonged to all of us: Madge shouting “Charlene!”, Daphne and Clive adopting Mike, Mike mimicking Melanie’s laugh. By the time they got to the Robinson house, Jane had lost a contact lens and had to put her glasses on. “Ah, there she is,” Mike said fondly, harking back to the innocent days of their teen romance, when we all were Plain Jane Super Brain waiting for a spunkrat like Mike Young to fall in love with us.

It was almost as romantic as Bouncer’s dream, and while Jane and Mike took a trip down memory lane, the rest of Ramsay Street looked to the future. Toadie’s son Cal arrived in Erinsborough with a pink pig for his new stepmother. “Dad said you were really into pigs,” he said. “It’s perfect,” Melanie cried. She sprinted down the aisle into Toadie’s arms, and after they watched wedding video messages from old friends like Margot Robbie, Delta Goodrem and Natalie Imbruglia, decided they couldn’t leave Erinsborough as planned. All roads lead back to Ramsay Street, and unlike Toadie’s mullet, that pink pig wasn’t going anywhere.

Then, the moment we’d been waiting for: the return of Scott and Charlene, Neighbours’ blondest and most memorable couple. Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan drove up the street that made them famous as ‘Especially for You’ played on their car radio, and while Charlene barely said a word in these all-too-brief scenes, my heart sang like a Stock Aitken Waterman number one. Seeing them back together on Ramsay Street was a full circle moment in the cul-de-sac of dreams, and if either had uttered more than ten words, it might have ruined the magic forever.

All good things must come to an end, and as Mike and Jane got their happy ending and Scott and Charlene returned to Erinsborough for good, Susan knew exactly what to write in the History of Ramsay Street book. She took a contemplative stroll through the street wedding reception, past several young people pashing in a tent and Ghost Madge sitting with Harold in the distance. Amid the spirits of the past and the hornbags of the future, Susan knew the legacy of Ramsay Street would always remain.

I can’t eat your ghost chips, Neighbours, but you got me good. “Everyone deserves a place in the history of Ramsay Street, even those who watched us from afar. Together, we have been the perfect blend,” Susan said, as the iconic theme song played for the last time and glitter fell from the skies. It was the end, it was the beginning, it was the goodbye we all deserved. Like Melanie’s pink pig, it was simply perfect.

The Neighbours finale is available to stream on TVNZ+.

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