Television.AU wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas!
This year’s Christmas flashback comes from 30 years ago — 1986.
Neighbours was at the end of its second series (and its first series at Network Ten) and instead of doing the usual soapie trick of going out with a string of cliffhangers, the show instead ended the year with a fairytale.
The episode, which happened to be the show’s 400th, went to air on 11 December. It marked the culmination of a brewing feud between Shane Ramsay (Peter O’Brien) and Mike Young (Guy Pearce) over the affections of Jane Harris (Annie Jones).
When Clive Gibbons (Geoff Paine) makes a light-hearted suggestion that the two fight each other in a boxing match, he didn’t quite expect them to take the offer so literally.
And so approaches the battle — and the whole street is divided in the lead up to the big bout — though did anyone think to ask poor Jane what she wanted?
Clive, in a bid to minimise the damage he inadvertently triggered, agrees to be referee for the clash. However, he ended up being the victim as he is knocked out by a stray fist in the battle.
So while Clive is unconscious on the floor he has a dream about the various residents of Ramsay Street in fairytale characters — including Jim (Alan Dale) as a wizard, Madge (Anne Charleston) as Little Bo Beep, Scott (Jason Donovan) as a tin soldier, Charlene (Kylie Minogue) as a doll, and Helen (Anne Haddy) is the fairy godmother.
Daphne and Des (Elaine Smith and Paul Keane), expecting their first baby, appear as a bride and groom, telling Santa (Paine) their wish for a healthy baby.
“The cast take on characters who are totally over the top,” Neighbours produced Phil East told TV Week at the time. “Because the show is basically light and fun we had the opportunity to do this fantasy and we talked about what we could do to round out the year. It will be a very gentle, happy ending of the year. It will still be quite a peak without having someone at death’s door.”
Following the fairytale 400th episode, with the series entering its third year on air a number of cast members were slated to be moving on. O’Brien, Paine, Kylie Flinker (the original Lucy Robinson) and Gloria Ajenstat (Susan Cole) were all set to be written out from TV’s famous neighbourhood.
The year ahead also saw the wedding of Scott and Charlene — one of the show’s all-time defining moments — and Kylie Minogue on the verge of branching out to a recording career.
Source: TV Week, 29 November 1986. TV Scene, 6 December 1986.