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Neighbours history

Who could have predicted that Neighbours would become Australia’s most successful TV export? The cult soap, which first aired on BBC1 in 1986, reached a combined audience of 19 million for its lunchtime and teatime screenings at its peak in 1990. Neighbours focuses on life at the end of an Australian cul-de-sac called Ramsay Street in the fictional suburb of Erinsborough. The families who live on Ramsay Street lead intertwined lives and are constantly swanning in and out of each other’houses, falling in love and dealing with all of life’s little problems. Some of the residents of Ramsay Street have become international stars. The marriage of Scott Robinson (Jason Donovan) and Charlene Mitchell (Kylie Minogue) and their accompanying duet, Especially For You, marked a turning point in the soap’s popularity, from niche daytime TV into mainstream cultural icon. Other characters on the show were almost as popular: the resident curtain-twitcher, Mrs Mangel and her goofy son, Joe; the stuffy, but kind Harold Bishop, who made TV history by mysteriously reappearing five years after he was washed away to sea; and ruthless businessman Paul Robinson. Neighbours reached a milestone in 1997 when the last remaining original character, Helen Daniels, died. Her departure marked the arrival of new families: the Martins, Starks and Willises, and later the Hancocks, Scullys and Kennedys. Neighbours has remained among the most popular shows on daytime television and has launched the careers of international stars such as Guy Pearce, Natalie Imbruglia, Holly Valance, Delta Goodrem and Ugly Betty’s Alan Dale.