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Comment > In-jokes Are Not In by Billy

Whether it be a mention of a writer slipped in, or a mention of Kylie Minogue, Neighbours has always contained in-jokes since the mid-90s. I've often sat and thought about whether this is a good thing or not...

The main reason I am against in-jokes is simply because they seem to have this feel of unprofessionalism to them. For instance, the respected soap operas like EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale simply don't insert them, so why should Neighbours? Whenever I spot one, I feel as if it is the crew saying to us that they don't take the serial we all worship seriously.

I think I should mention that it's not the small in-jokes I am against (in actual fact, I do find those ones quite clever), but the huge ones are pointless and seemingly only there for the sake of poking fun at themselves. One in-joke I can recall was from the mid 90s, when Phil and Lou were in Chez Chez and had a toast "to sons and daughters" - clearly a reference here to the soap Sons and Daughters which Ian Rawlings (Phil Martin) was a lead character in. It's this type that I am perfectly happy with -- what irks me is when they decide to bring in real life stars of the show's past and insert them into the Neighbours scripts.

Another which I would deem acceptable is the recent one about the script producers Luke Devenish and Ben Michael. When Ruby Dwyer was asked who her accomplices were for the robbery at Harold's house, she said "Ben and Luke". Pretty obvious, but it doesn't do anything to damage the history or old storylines and characters of the show.

One of mention is when Michelle said she watched Time Machine with Guy Pearce in it, and that it "sucked". While I think the verdict is unanimous regarding the film's suckiness, the mention of Guy Pearce has completely destroyed the character Mike Young, who Pearce played. It only helps to further detatch Neighbours from its past, and I don't see the logic in this, as Neighbours has a rich heritage and a past to be proud of. Back in the Guy Pearce days it was the number one soap in Britain and there was no shame in admitting you were a fan of it. So why distance yourself from the glory days?

The same goes for the mention of Craig McLachlan's (Henry Ramsay) band Check 1-2. When in a nightclub with Tad, Flick said that they were some "daggy 80s band" - Check 1-2 are something which shouldn't exist in the Erinsborough dimension... it's like watching two different shows. The 80s, and the "ironic" 90s/00s. Why try to shorten Neighbours' incredible 18 year run? I just don't understand it.

The worst in-joke, and one that almost made me consider hanging myself, was when Toadie said that Nina could be "the next Kylie". I don't think I even need to detail the role Kylie Minogue played in Neighbours, but should her singing career suddenly nosedive and she returns to the serial, she can never be as Charlene, as they have foolishly acknowledged that Kylie Minogue is a real person. The problem is, Kylie shouldn't even exist in Erinsborough. It's a fictional suburb, so why not invent a fictional singer to compare Nina to? Like... I dunno. Hitney Whouston. To all those fans who cheered with delight at the 'genius' of the Kylie mention - wake up. This was the worst thing the show could do. Try reading a newspaper article about Kylie which doesn't say "the former Neighbours star", or "... who shot to fame in the Aussie soap Neighbours" or something along those lines. Kylie has made Neighbours a household name by being the most popular character in it when it aired, and for going on to have a hugely successful career in music afterwards. What's the betting that in a year's time or so, Summer will be heading to the record shop to buy Holly Valance's new CD? Or would they even go to the extreme of having a production company knock on the doors and say that they plan to film a soap opera in the street for six months or so, and if any residents object, to let them know? Could the Kylie mention be the first nail in the coffin?

It's not that I don't have a sense of humour, because I do.

(crickets chirping)

Honest! It's just that I want to watch Neighbours and know that Number 24 once had Charlene Mitchell slash Robinson living there, and not a pop princess. I want to look at the houses and think that Mike the teacher once lived there, not an actor with a couple of terrible movies on his CV.

The more frequent they become, the more I get annoyed. The larger scale they are, the worse they are, and the more damaging they are to the series. The mention of Kylie has practically wiped its most successful period off the timeline, if you look at it from that angle. Am I the only person to see this?

So -- hopefully somebody out there will read this and take note... or get Kylie Minogue to do a guest stint at Lou's Place just to spite me. But for the time being, do I think the in-jokes will end anytime soon? I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky.

And yes, I am aware of how ironic it is ending this article with an in-joke.