It’s a well-known fact that the Aussie soap Neighbours has always been more popular in the UK than in Australia. Scott and Charlene’s wedding was watched by more than 20 million viewers when it aired in the UK in 1988. In the same year the entire population of Australia was only about 16.5 million people. So there were more UK Neighbours fans than inhabitants of the country who made it!
It’s kind of similar to what I choose to call the Hasselhoff Dilemma – the people of Germany have nothing but love and admiration for actor and musician David Hasselhoff, while his fellow Americans just aren’t really that bothered.
25 years later the UK is still big on Neighbours. They show it no less than 6 times a day – twice on Channel 5, twice on 5* and twice on 5* +1. And nearly everyone I speak to has watched it at some point in their lives – usually as a teen or while at uni. Plus there’s a brilliant and hilarious ‘Art of Neighbours’ group on Facebook, made up of dedicated fans who love to post about each episode and poke fun at some of the dafter story lines.
In comparison, new episodes of the show are only on once a day (once!) in Aus, and they can’t even be bothered to merge all the episodes into one programme for the Sunday omnibus – so you get the viewing pleasure of 5 sets of opening and closing credits.
But Aussies don’t care that there aren’t many chances to catch Neighbours because hardly any of them actually watch it! It seems to be their embarrassing relation that no one talks about, and whenever I admit to watching it I get a look of pity and the hint of a suggestion that I should see myself as a pathetic loser.
But the truth is, I love Neighbours, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve been watching it for about 26 years, and I’m not planning on stopping! It’s entertaining, with some great characters, and some I love to hate. It can make me laugh, cry and shout at the tv, all in one episode. Plus I don’t smoke, take drugs, or drink much, so as far as vices go, this one is pretty harmless!
In fact seeing as I’m in Australia for a year at the moment, I might make it my mission to get more Aussies to appreciate this fantastic show that they’ve so kindly given to the world. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck…!