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101 NEIGHBOURS FACTS TO OZ-TONISH YOU!; It's the show that brought you Jason and Kylie and became cult viewing in Britain. Although it is now seen in 60 countries around the world, it was a flop on its own home territory. As the 10th anniversary of Neighbours approaches in Britain, JANE SIMON reveals 101 amazing facts about the smash-hit Australian soap...

BBC1 began showing Neighbours on Monday, October 27, 1986. It was first seen at 12.30pm and repeated the next morning at 9.05.

It was changed to its 5.35pm slot when schoolgirl Alison Grade remarked to her dad how much her friends liked it. Her dad is Michael Grade, then BBC1 boss.

The show began on Channel 7 in Australia on March 18, 1985 - and flopped after 171 episodes.

The series was created by Reg Watson, the first producer of Crossroads.

Watson originally hoped to make Neighbours a co-production with the BBC - but the idea was scrapped.

The first words spoken in the series were "No, no, Shane, no, no." It was Danny Ramsay having a nightmare.

Erinsborough, the fictional Melbourne suburb which has been home to the Ramsay Street families for 10 years, is an anagram of "Or Neighbours".

Only six houses are ever seen on screen in Ramsay Street - Numbers 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 32.

Peter O'Brien, who played Shane Ramsay, found out that the show was being axed in Australia when he overheard two executives talking about it in the pub.

It was the first show in Oz to change channels. When Channel 10 bought the rights to the series, Channel 7 burned all the old sets so that their rivals couldn't have them.

Neighbours was the first series to be shown in Britain five days a week.

The familiar theme tune was written by Tony Hatch and his wife Jackie Trent. It came to them while they were doing the ironing.

The real-life owners of the Ramsay family's house were paid pounds 200 a week on condition that they didn't hang out any washing while the show was recorded.

Reg Watson wrote 20 drafts of the first episode.

Ramsay Street was named after Max Ramsay's grandfather Jack. Actor Francis Bell, who played him, was axed when he asked for more money.

In 1994, Francis Bell committed suicide by throwing himself off a six- storey building in New Zealand.

Jason Donovan had originally been picked to play Danny Ramsay but he turned it down to finish high school.

Scott Robinson, the role that made Jason a star, was originally played by Darius Perkins.

The part of Lucy Robinson has been played by three different actresses - Kylie Flinker, Sasha Close and Melissa Bell.

Jamie Clarke, son of Des and Daphne, was also played by three different actors - S J Dey, Ryder Susman and Nicholas Mason.

The parts of Cody Willis, Cheryl Stark, Julie Martin, Beverley Robinson, Philip Martin, Debbie Martin, Toby Mangel and Bob Landers have also been played by two different actors.

British ratings for the soap peaked in 1990 at 21 million.

Four schools in Merseyside rearranged their school day to end at 2pm so the kids could finish their homework before Neighbours started.

In 1993, the Bishop of St Albans the Rt Rev John Taylor complained that watching Neighbours was like watching "life on Mars".

The real-life Ramsay Street is a cul-de-sac called Pin Oak Court in the Melbourne suburb of Vermont.

Because of the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, the script never mentioned that Erinsborough was supposed to be a suburb of Melbourne until 1994.

In 1988, Paul Robinson tried to buy up Ramsay Street to build a supermarket.

The Erinsborough GP must be run off his feet. Danni Stark has diabetes, Debbie Martin suffers from bulimia, Matt Robinson was dyslexic, Melissa Jarret suffered from epilepsy, and Lucy Robinson went mysteriously blind.

Kerry Bishop's daughter Sky nearly died after being bitten by a red- back spider.

Lauren Carpenter thought she was pregnant - but it turned out to be the sexually-transmitted disease chlamydia.

Mark Gottlieb went into a coma after falling off a ladder - but it cured him of his religious mania.

Shane Ramsay was injured in a car crash - cutting short a promising career as a diver.

Bouncer the labrador was run over by Madge Bishop while she was learning to drive.

Gaby Willis and Cheryl Stark gave birth on the same day.

Glen Donelly was paralysed when he fell from the roof of The Waterhole in December 1992.

Stephen Gottlieb (Lochie Daddo) was paralysed after an explosion at The Waterhole less than 18 months later.

Philip Martin was paralysed in the car crash that killed his wife Loretta. When his character was next seen seven years later, he was miraculously cured and played by a different actor.

Anne Haddy, who plays Helen Daniels, is the only surviving member of the original cast.

Michael Martin tried to murder his stepmum Julie by drugging her but she survived. She later died in mysterious circumstances at a murder mystery party.

Daphne Clarke died after a car crash on the way to her father's funeral. She came out of her coma just long enough to croak, "I love you, Clarkey."

Paul Robinson's first wife Terri Inglis committed suicide in prison.

Cody Willis, played by Peta Brady, was fatally wounded in a shoot-out between drug dealers and the police.

Joe Mangel's wife Kerry was accidentally shot and killed by poachers.

Todd Landers was killed by a VW van as he rushed to stop his 17-year- old girlfriend Phoebe from having an abortion. She decided to keep the baby - and wanted to give birth on Todd's tombstone.

Zoe Davis suffered an ectopic pregnancy after an affair with Jim Robinson.

Jim was one of the show's original characters. Played by Alan Dale, he was finally killed off by a heart attack in 1993.

There have been three resident doctors in Ramsay Street - Clive Gibbons, Beverly Marshall and Karl Kennedy.

When Lucy Robinson suffered an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Clive Gibbons performed a tracheotomy on her as she lay on the kitchen table.

Harold Bishop vanished while out walking on a coastal path in 1992. Only his specs were found and he was presumed drowned. But his body was never found. Now producers hope to bring actor Ian Smith and his "widow" Madge - played by Anne Charleston - back into the show.

Phoebe Bright met her husband Stephen at the cemetery where her boyfriend Todd and his girlfriend Libby were both buried.

Scott Robinson first met Charlene Mitchell when he caught her breaking into her mother's house.

Doug Willis met his future wife Pam when he accepted a dare to travel across town naked in a cab. Pam was the taxi driver.

Lou, Madge and Harold all went to school together in Brisbane.

Kylie Minogue joined the cast of Neighbours as the tearaway Charlene on what was initially a week-long contract.

Scott and Charlene's wedding in November 1988 was the soap wedding of the decade and led Kylie and Jason to record a Christmas single together. Especially For You was a No 1 hit.

Kylie Minogue's first single, I Should Be So Lucky, was No 1 in the UK for five weeks.

Following Kylie and Jason's example Neighbours' stars Stefan Dennis, Darius Perkins, Bruce Samazan, Felice Arena and twins Gillian and Gayle Blakeney all released pop records - with varying degrees of success.

Before joining Neighbours as clown Henry Ramsay, Craig McLachlan played guitar in a Sydney band called The Y-Fronts. After leaving the show he had a No 2 hit with Hey Mona and earned pounds 10,000 a week starring as Danny Zuko in the West End production of Grease in 1993.

Neighbours stars Paul Keane, Alan Dale, Elaine Smith and Peter O'Brien used to perform in a pop group called Suitably Rough.

Alan Dale, who played Jim, was the show's highest earner on pounds 80,000 a year.

Jim Robinson made a fortune out of patenting a new kind of car jack.

Helen Daniels ran a chauffeur company called Home James.

There have been two strippers living in Erinsborough - Daphne Lawrence, who was booked to appear at Des Clarke's stag night and then married him, and male stripper Josh Anderson, one of Todd's school friends.

Annalise Hartman (Kimberley Davies) has been a barmaid, a cook, a chambermaid, hairdresser, done marketing for her boyfriend's handyman business, written poetry and set up a PR company with her sister Jo.

In real life, Ian Rawlings, who plays Philip Martin, is a partner in a Sydney beauty salon called Chatterleys.

Ian Smith, who played fuddy-duddy Harold Bishop, was also one of the producers of Prisoner: Cell Block H.

Actress Lesley Baker, who plays larger-than-life Angie Rebecchi, was the beauty editor on the launch issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in London in 1971.

Conman Douglas Blake, who cheated Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) out of her savings, was played by James Condon - Anne's real-life husband.

James Condon later returned as Reuben White. This time he married Helen Daniels but his character died less than a month later of a heart condition.

Jason Donovan's dad Terence played Doug Willis in the show after his son had left the series.

Kimberley Davies used to go out with Scott Michaelson who played Brad.

Joy Chambers who plays Rosemary Daniels is the wife of Reg Grundy - head of Reg Grundy Productions, who make the show.

Elaine Smith, who played Daphne, and Peter O'Brien, who played Shane Ramsay, were on-screen lovers and had a real-life romance for four years.

The marriage of Paul Robinson and Chrissie Alessi brought together actors Stefan Dennis and Gayle Blakeney.

Craig McLachlan got together for real with actress Rachel Friend when she played his sweetheart Bronwyn Davies. They both left the show, got married, but split up a year later.

After Raelee Hill, who played Ren Gottlieb, was axed from Neighbours she landed a part in a spoof Aussie soap called Shark Bay.

Richard Norton, who played Ryan McLachlan, defected to Home And Away. He also turned up recently in Brookside as Shane Cochran.

Neighbours stars can earn pounds 15,000 a week appearing in Britain in panto - 15 times what some of them earn actually making the show.

In April 1995, the entire cast went on strike for better wages, claiming they were getting only half what their counterparts in British soaps earned.

In 1993, Melissa Bell, who plays Lucy Robinson, turned down pounds 75,000 to bare all for Playboy magazine.

Neighbours' all-white community led TV executive Bruce Gyngell to remark that the Poms watched it "to get their quiet little racism fix".

Neighbours' latest hunk Richard Grieve, who plays Sam Kratz, grew up in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.

Mark Gottlieb jilted Annalise at the altar because he'd decided to become a priest.

Daphne's wedding was called off when her car was hijacked by a bank robber dressed as a gorilla.

Beth decided not to marry Brad when she noticed him staring at Lauren all through the service.

Bouncer the dog had a dream in which he got hitched to his sweetheart Rosie the sheepdog.

Mrs Mangel's first husband Len was never seen on screen until long after she married someone else and left the show.

British actor Derek Nimmo, Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe and Clive James have all had guest roles in the show.

Keith Chegwin just missed out on appearing in the show when he was unable to get a work permit.

In 1994, Julie Martin dressed up in a schoolgirl's uniform to turn on her impotent husband Philip. The scene was slammed by the Broadcasting Standards Council for being too kinky for the real schoolkids who watch the show.

Neighbours beat Brookside to the incest storyline. But when Lucy Robinson kissed her half-brother Glen Donelly, the scene was cut in Britain.

Annalise and Jo Hartman's dad is a drag queen called Tarquin "Sequin" Hartman.

The name of Lauren Carpenter's horse was Chuckie Mental.

Groovy granny Marlene Kratz has a garden gnome called Albie.

Scriptwriters planned to change the name of Rupert Sprod's character when they thought of something better - but they never did.

Sam Kratz (Richard Grieve) and Annalise broke up when he caught her being unfaithful with a bloke called Stonefish.

Kym Valentine, who plays Libby Kennedy, used to write fan letters to Kylie Minogue when she was in the show.

Dan Falzon, who played heart-throb Rick Alessi, used to play in the Victoria state hockey team.

Neighbours is watched in more than 60 countries around the world.

In May this year, language experts announced that, thanks to Aussie soaps like Neighbours, kids in the UK have picked up Australian speech patterns. That means their voices go up at the end of sentences like this?

In Australia the show takes a one-month break for Christmas but in Britain it carries on running. That means we'll catch up with the Aussie episodes some time in 2006.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Simon, Jane
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 13, 1996
Words:2102
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