Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

*is saying "crikey" and "daggy" a lot*

This is blog number five in my series of seven requested blogs. So far I've had a blast, particularly the last two entries, and have been able to come up with something to fill my entries pretty much right away.

Yesterday I was asked to blog about Australia. Now, if I had been asked to blog about New Zealand, I could have wrote at least 2,000 words without any problems. Being a Lord of the Rings nut will do that to you. But I was asked to blog about Australia, so that is what I must do.

My knowledge of Australia could be fitted onto the back of a (very small) envelope, consequently I've had to have a really good think about what I will ramble about. Running to recent form, I am going to cheat. *nods* I may not have a lot of expertise on Australia as a whole, but I have remembered something that will definitely help me to supply this latest requested blog.

I don't know about anyone else, but in my neck of the woods there appeared a sudden new craze around twenty years ago. I'm talking about, of course, the phenomena that was Neighbours. For the untutored, Neighbors is an Australian soap opera that has been transmitted for almost 25 years. We Brits got it a little bit later than the Aussies, but in true British fashion, we quickly adopted these neighbors as our own. I don't remember the exact date when I started to follow it myself, but I can remember coming home from school, finishing my homework, having my tea, then settling down to watch Home and Away (that one's being covered in a mo) and Neighbours.

Ramsey Street, the fictional setting for our Aussie neighbours, was awesome. It was a large cul-de-sac where everyone knew everybody, and did exactly as the theme tune suggested (Neighbours should be there for one another, that's when good neighbours become good friends - Lordy, I can't believe I can still remember the words, now I'll be humming the bloody thing all day). The houses were a bit odd, in that even though they mostly had two floors, everyone seemed to have their bedrooms next to the kitchen (maybe they wanted to be near the kitchen implements, who knows?), but the houses were also cool because they had verandas and pools (something which was rarely seen in most British streets).

I was a fan of the soap in the golden Ramsey/Robinson era. These two families were the main characters in the soap, and we watched avidly as they coped with day-to-day issues and said 'crikey' a lot. The two most famous characters were Scott Robinson, the nice son of Jim Robinson, and Charlene Mitchell, who was Madge Mitchell's (formerly Ramsey) tom-boyish daughter. Charlene, being played by a teen Kylie Minogue, was awesome, I loved her to bits. She was a mechanic's apprentice, wore ugly brown overalls, yet still managed to snag the hot boy from next door (I should point out that when I think about Scott Robinson now, I'm more likely to go 'eww' rather than drool. Funny how our tastes change as we grow up, isn't it?)

Neighbours is still going strong, though I haven't watched it for well over ten years myself. It's obviously still popular, or it wouldn't still be airing, but for me the attraction has gone. To me, Neighbours hit its peak when Angry Anderson's song 'Suddenly' played against Scott and Charlene's teen wedding. You don't get cheesiness any better than that.

Now, I mentioned Home and Away a little up the page. Home and Away was the other prime time soap that the Brits poached from our Aussie cousins. BBC may have nabbed the biggest Australian fish, but ITV hooked its closest competition. Home and Away was basically Neighbours by the sea. Set in the fictional  'Summer Bay', we still had two main families to watch, only this time is was the Stewarts and the Fletchers. Nothing really different happened in Summer Bay when you compared it to Neighbours, but Summer Bay had the advantage of copious beach-clad teens prancing across the screen every few minutes. I'm pretty sure that most of Home and Away's fans were teenage boys, who could spend a pleasant twenty-five minutes ogling tanned teenage beauties without their mothers breathing down their necks (because all mums LOVED Home and Away, of course).

I watched Home and Away for about three years altogether, and in that time they had some pretty memorable stories. To give them their due, they tried to cover serious issues; the Fletchers were foster parents, for example, which was a very good thing to highlight (though I suspect the writers did this so that they could swap and change the characters whenever they felt like it). They also covered teenage pregnancy (with the father being a teacher, no less *gasp*), and death via incurable disease. All very worthy topics  (well, maybe not the teacher-fathers-teen's-baby thing)  I'm sure. The trouble is, all I really remember from Home and Away was that the teenagers thought everything was 'daggy', and that the school uniforms were bordering on indecent.

I think I mostly remember the ghosts though. Yup, Home and Away had two "Bobby in the shower" moments (I'm going to presume everyone remembers Dallas and the silly storyline of (dead) Bobby coming out of the shower). Funnily enough, one of Home and Away's ghosts was also called Bobby, though this one was female and, if I remember rightly, appeared in a dream, so was marginally better than the original Bobby sighting.

My favorite ghost was Ailsa Stewart though. As matriarch of the Stewart family, she was much missed when she left the show. So much that the producers brought her back for a few episodes. Unfortunately, her reappearance ended up being funny, which I suspect wasn't what the writers were aiming for. I don't think I'll ever forget Alf Stewart's face as he opened his fridge and came face to face with his deceased wife. What should have been moving  (Alf was slowly losing the plot), ended up being hilarious.

The last thing I want to mention about Australian soaps is something that always makes me smile. One of Australia's most common curse word is 'strewth', and we got to hear it being said countless times on Neighbours AND Home and Away. 'Strewth' is such a versatile curse word, and even better, the kids can say it without being told to wash out their mouths. 'Strewth' was one of the main curse words of my teenage years, and was probably heard more often in real life than it was on the TV. Today, kids are more likely to say the F-bomb, and that's rather sad. I'd much rather hear a 'strewth' any day. Of course, kids these days don't rely on soaps for their entertainment; they have games consoles, iPods and the internet to cover their entertainment needs.

Bring back the golden days of soap, I say. Especially the Australian ones.

There won't be a blog tomorrow, but seeing as I posted two on Monday, I don't think it matters much. Oh, and don't forget to leave a request for Friday's blog!


  1. Oh lordy. I see I'm gonna have to do some serious edjumakation here Tara... ;)

  2. Well stone the flamin' crows, I *actually* worked out how to post a comment on the blogs...

  3. Hahaha, well, I was kinda stumped..... everything posted was from memory, and seeing as it's been a LONG time since I saw these shows, I think I can be forgiven for any mistakes that I might have made.*winks*

  4. Ha! Well done for working out how to post a comment! It took me a while too... pesky thing...*mutters*

  5. I wasn't talking about the shows - never watched Neighbours and haven't seen Home and Away for absolute yonks.

    I meant on Aussie-land in general.

    Hmm, thinking on it, you might not even know the wombat joke - because I'm sure it would have made the blog...

    Why are men and wombats similar?
    Because they both eat roots and leaves

  6. *dies* That would SO have made it in....

    And yes, my knoweledge of Australia is very limited. Hence today's unfortunate ramble. *snorts* Still, I never promised to take these requests literally...*shifty*

  7. Great post Tara. I never even heard of "Neighbors." Very educational.

    Love the wombat joke.

    *dies laughing*

  8. BrioNI- you need to warn Tara about the Drop bears!!!

    *snickers at wombat joke* I LOVE that one.

    *snort* I loved it Tara--I probably would have gone with how everything is innuendo in Aussie and then put some links to The Living End (little Aussie Punk for everyone to love)--Uncle Harry coulda pissed in the bath and we ALL would have been edjumakated!

  9. *snorts* Lordy, an opportunity was missed for innnuendo....

    Anywho, who's going to suggest the next topic, huh, huh??

  10. Very nice job on the history of Aussie soap culture. Strewth, you could write a thesis on this!

    The only character I remember from Neighbours is Libby. The moody, irritating daughter of Carl (who I also remember, evidently...)

    She was basically my sister with an Aussie accent. Whenever my sister wasn't around, I turned on the TV to get my fill of smug older siblings being right about everything. Fun times.

  11. Hahaha, thanks :) Sorry it wasn't strictly about Australia, but it was as close to it as I could get seeing as I know diddly squat about Australia (apart from wombats who eat roots and leaves *snorts*)

    I remember Libby. *nods. And Carl. And Susan, the wife. I think they got divorced, then remarried, something about Carl having it off with his assistant or something if memory serves me right. Then again, I could be wrong....

    Still need a subject for Friday! Come on people, you're missing the opportuntity over and over again! *wags finger*

  12. Ohh I didn't want to pick one as I already gave you a topic but if it's still open you should talk about bra sizes ... hahahaha

  13. See Tara--Ana already gave you one! I was going to suggest Taffies, but bra sizes is good indeed... (don't forget to point out that nudists don't have to worry about that pesky problem)

  14. And for the last post, Tara, how about "deep fine legs"?