Everybody needs good neighbours

Even though I haven’t watched Neighbours since I was about 22, I couldn’t visit Melbourne without acknowledging the role that the soap played in my life for several years.

On Monday, May 21, I went to the Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub in St Kilda for the weekly Neighbours night, accompanied by Lizzie who was my roommate in Cairns. On this occasion, the expected stars were Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy) and Carla Bonner (Steph Scully) – both of whom I was excited about meeting – and James Mason (Chris Pappas) who I didn’t know because he only joined the show a couple of years ago.

There was a question and answer session and then the actors went to each table and spent time chatting, posing for photographs and signing autographs. They were really friendly. This was followed by a general knowledge quiz, and Carla gave my team the answers to a couple of the Neighbours questions. My team came second, but this wasn’t good enough to win any prizes. After this, Alan and his band, Waiting Room, took to the stage. They performed one original song, but the rest were covers of songs by the likes of Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol and Bon Jovi. Alan is a better actor than singer, but overall it was a fantastic, fun night, and I liked the fact it was so informal.

On Wednesday, May 23, I went on the Neighbours tour. I was told to meet at the official Neighbours centre, which was just a few doors down from the hostel. I found out on Monday that we would be meeting Kym Valentine (Libby Kennedy) but I didn’t expect this to be at the beginning of the tour, and it was a surprise when Kym walked through the door. She was lovely (and like Carla, much shorter than I’d imagined) and she spent about half an hour with us, talking about Neighbours, playing Baby in the Australian stage version of Dirty Dancing, and motherhood. She also posed for photographs and signed autographs.

Our funny and knowledgable tour guide took us by minibus to see the outside of the high school, although I didn’t really recognise anything, the studio, though we could only see part of it, and best of all, Ramsay Street, which is actually called Pin Oak Court. We posed for photos with the street sign outside the familiar houses and it felt a bit surreal to be there. I might have to watch Neighbours again now. Just one more time…

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