Strewth, crikey and would you spiggin’ have it – the BBC has axed Neighbours.
I haven’t watched it for several years, mainly owing to the fact that it reaches Stiltonesque realms of cheesiness. The Beeb’s decision, therefore, fails to touch my life (and anyway, Five have bought over the rights, so you’ll still be able to watch it, if you must… it’ll just be fuzzier). There was a time, though, when Neighbours was the thing to watch. I have fond memories of post-Neighbours phone calls with my schoolfriends, sometimes to discuss the ‘plot’, but more often to obsess in that pre-teen way over one’s particular choice of Aussie dreamboat.
Mine was Dan Falzon. AKA Rick Alessi, he sent my 12-year-old heart into meltdown.
I’ll never forget the day he replied to my starstruck fan letter. I carried that signed photo around in my schoolbag for weeks, bringing it out to swoon over with my envious friends in double maths, saying things like “…and he actually wrote my name!!”
Then there was Henry. I was still of primary school age when Craig McLaughlin was sneaking around Ramsey Street wearing only a fern from Harold’s garden. I can’t remember how or why that happened, but it seems to be permanently etched upon my memory, for better or for worse. I think my mum actually had a crush on him and pretended the crush was mine. Somewhere along the line, I believed the lie, and have a distinct recollection of sticking a magazine clipping of Henry And The Fern on my bedroom door. Mum probably cut it out for me, come to think of it.
Neighbours was always a bonding thing for me, with my mother and sister. We’d watch it as we had lunch together in the summer holidays, crying at the weddings, laughing at the funny bits, talking about the characters as if we knew them personally. Dad hated the show, of course. He’d roll his eyes or make a derisory remark if it was mentioned; the rest of us would feel quite superior because we knew how much enjoyment was to be had in an afternoon with the Neighbours. It made it quite special – like our own little secret club.
Nowadays, I’m inclined to agree with Dad.
But Dan Falzon… I’d forgotten about Dan Falzon…