It was the day no soap fan was looking forward to – the day one of the big ones fell. Neighbours, after 37 years on screens in the UK and Australia, finally came to an end with the residents of Ramsay Street coming together for one big celebration.
In the weeks leading up to the end, fans of the soap have been quite frankly astonished by the amount of talent from the past who announced they were returning to say goodbye. Guy Pearce (who plays Mike Young), Margot Robbie (Donna Freedman), Jason Donovan (Scott Robinson) and even queen of pop herself Kylie Minogue (Charlene Robinson) made their way back for the occasion. The wealth of talent this show has produced is on full force throughout the final week, but especially in the last episode.
The hour-long special centred around Toadie Rebecchi (played by Ryan Moloney) and Mel Pearson's (Lucinda Cowden) wedding. The sweet, American-western inspired affair went without a hitch (quite unusual for Neighbours, and especially strange for a Rebecchi wedding), and became the catalyst for bringing people back to Erinsborough in one way or another.
It was also responsible for notorious bad boy Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) finally reigniting his love with the only woman to tame him, Terese Willis (Rebekah Elmaloglou). Fans from the recent years will have been pleased to finally see them seal the deal with a kiss and call off The Lassiters buy-out and move to New York. So they were staying put in Erinsborough.
One couple who were planning on leaving, though, were Toadie and Mel. With everyone but the Kennedys selling up on Ramsay Street, the soon-to-be-newlyweds are wondering about whether a new life away from Erinsborough will be best for them considering how many memories (and let's be honest, failed marriages, ahem Toadie) surround them. Susan (Jackie Woodburne) and Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) are in charge of collating memories for the Ramsay Street book and take it upon themselves as a good time to share their findings with Toadie and Mel.
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A video montage plays, with former residents of Ramsay Street leaping at the chance to congratulate the happy couple, begging them to stay on Ramsay Street. Enter the how-the-hell-will-they-do-that cameo from Margot Robbie, who pops up on screen looking like the Hollywood star she is to share her congratulations. It's not quite Donna-back-on-the-street, but it's lovely nonetheless (and Margot's probably a little too busy with Barbie for a flight across the world, anyway). We also reconnect with Steph Scully (Carla Bonner), Beth Brennan (Natalie Imbruglia) and Flick Scully (Holly Valance) to name but a few. Admittedly some returns were a little more seamless than others, but one must suspend belief when watching Neighbours.
How could Toadie and Mel leave after that? They, of course, decide to stay, and a reception's held on Ramsay Street with plenty of faces from years gone by.
Enter, the elephant in the room: Kylie and Jason's return. Big, and bold, their return to the sound of Especially For You is admittedly goosebump-inducing if not a moment of camp that the soap does so well. They are Neighbours, and it was lovely to see them back, even if it was a little bit forced and slightly disconnected from the main storyline.
It almost doesn't matter if some of the reunions weren't executed with exemplary flare. This was more about nostalgia, which the hour-long special delivered in bucket-loads. Could some of the returns been a bit more seamless? Yes. Did we all enjoy when we saw Margot Robbie back as Donna? Absolutely.
But really, this episode was Jackie Woodburne's. If Scott and Charlene were the faces of Neighbours, Susan was the heart. Beloved Susan held all the values that Erinsborough put on a pedestal. She was kind, thoughtful... everything you'd want your own neighbour to be. If anyone could reflect on the history of the show, it's Susan. Woodburne, who seemed to be on the verge of tears throughout the entire final week, was tasked with wrapping up 37 years of the show in a beautiful monologue which was helpfully Susan's entry into the memory book.
The beauty of it was just how delicately it spoke to fans of the show, showing them touching hints of the past while also reflecting on the talent of the current cast. "How do you begin to describe a street?" Susan ponders, before going on to talk about the 'legendary legacy' of the early inhabitants of Ramsay Street – the Robinsons, the Ramsays.
The most touching moment of the entire week, let alone the finale, came when Susan reflected on those who the soap lost, including surprising returns for beloved Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston) and Doug Willis (Terence Donovan) from the classic era, and Sonya Rebecchi (Eve Moray) and Hendrix Greyson (Ben Turland) from the new era. Heck, even lovable psychopath Finn Kelly (Rob Mills) had a surprise ghostly cameo (much to this Finn stan's delight). To say fans got what they wanted is an understatement. I defy anyone to be disappointed with the sheer amount of famous faces back on screen.
As the monologue wraps up, Susan pays homage to us, UK viewers. "I think you have to acknowledge everything, celebrate it all. The good, the bad, because all of that makes us who we are," she says. "Everyone deserves a place in the history of Ramsay Street... even those who watched us from a far. Together, we've been the perfect blend." Barely holding back tears, Karl asks where she's been and Susan utters the final line of the show: "I was home."
And that's what Neighbours was for so many: home. Always comforting, funny, honest, dramatic, emotional, and familiar, Neighbours was – and will always be – an exemplary soap that exists in many people's lives, no matter where they are in the world. Good Neighbours truly did become good friends, and that's proven by the sheer amount of talent they got back to say goodbye, let alone the outpouring from fans across the globe. TV's loss is our gain. We have the wonderful memories of 37 years, and the lasting image of all our favourite characters on screen for the most beautiful celebration.
Goodbye, Ramsay Street, and goodbye Neighbours. We'll miss you forever.
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