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Features > The Best of 2005

It's been a memorable year of Neighbours, which has seen more blasts from the past than we could ever have imagined. In our final feature of 2005, The Perfect Blend team share our highlights from the past year…

Alice: The main highlight? Seeing the names 'Stefan Dennis' and 'Mark Little' in the credits again on a regular basis. Well, at least that’s one way of putting it. The anniversary stuff blew me away of course, but what helped to make it so good was that it wasn't just a fleeting novelty thing. We had one character (Paul) back on a permanent basis, and another (Joe) back for long enough to establish himself in the 2005 street. Joe, especially, has certainly lived up to my expectations, and I always know I’m going to enjoy an episode when he appears in it. We were promised a whole year of celebration, and that is exactly what we have been getting, with a whole bundle of treats laid out for us at various points throughout the year. Linda Hartley as a Kerry look-alike, the bizarre return of the 80s incidental music as the soundtrack to Janelle's imagination, a dog called Bouncer… Out of those, I’d have to say that the music was my favourite.

Speaking of which, Janelle and the Timmins family have been a surprise non-anniversary highlight for me. The mix of energy, humour and drama they bring has almost always been a joy to watch. Also putting the nostalgia stuff aside, my favourite storyline of the year was probably Darcy’s surprise return. The episode that featured both his awakening and Paul’s rescue is definitely in my top five of the entire year, and the fact that it triggered the chain of events that led to the climax of the Karl/Izzy storyline makes it all the more memorable for me. In fact, everything from Darcy’s return to Karl's discovery of the truth about Izzy’s baby was Neighbours at its best. And right after it was all over, we had the ‘Friends for Twenty Years’ episode. Perfect.

Billy: Well, obviously, it was the anniversary episodes. I know this may be a cop out, as they're more than likely every fan's favourite episodes of the year, but honestly, they were flawless. Just seeing Lucy and Paul walking down Ramsay Street, Rosemary being ruthless and corporate-like, Doug and Phil bantering with Lou, and of course Annalise strutting her stuff and turning heads like she did ten years prior, was incredible.

As long term fans we were all truly rewarded. It's like, it made 1995, Jo Hartman, 2002, the 1999 pencil outline credits and Susan's amnesia all worth while, and I'd go through all the bad times again if the anniversary episodes were the end result. Annalise's documentary has got to be probably the ultimate Neighbours episode, maybe even finally surpassing Kylie's damn wedding. Hilary, Billy, Danny, Gail, Gaby... just incredible. What a fantastic way to celebrate the show's history, and future, with current cast and past cast all present during the episodes. Simply brilliant.

Kate: As predictable as it may seem, I find it impossible to talk about the 'Best of 2005' without mentioning the Anniversary Episodes. It was exactly the nostalgia trip Neighbours (and I) had been crying out for, and fantastic reward and recognition for long-term viewers. Very few shows on TV could pull that off. The surrounding storylines - notably the Izzy/Karl baby/separation, and the Bishop family reunion - were very well plotted and it was nice that they came to a head amongst the Anniversary celebrations.

As a devout Karl and Susan supporter, I didn't exactly jump for joy when the Susan and Alex affair kicked off, but (perhaps due to my low expectations) I've really enjoyed seeing that develop, and look forward to further twists in the tale. Poor Susan hasn't had a whole lot of luck recently, has she? I think a reunion with Karl is just the tonic she requires (I'm not ever letting that one drop, you know). The Bishop family have continued to impress me in 2005. The Paul/Lil affair aside (didn't really "buy" that one), I've enjoyed the humour and warmth they've given the show. And I think it's good to have at least one couple with that really obvious, strong love for one another (again, affair aside...), especially given the fairly recent marital breakups of Karl and Susan (yep, those two again) and Joe (who?) and Lyn. What would I like to see in 2006? Just....erm...more please. Thank you.

Lucy: Everyone will mention it, but nothing in 2005 could outdo the Anniversary episodes. The anticipation, back in the later part of 2004, promised much, and as we got closer and closer we heard about more returnees, and only hoped it could be pulled off. And how it was. As I've said many times, no other soap could get away with what Neighbours did, but it wasn't contrived, it worked well, and above all, it made us all remember why we had become Neighbours fans in the first place.

There was also the culmination of the Karl/Izzy/Susan saga in 2005, also around the time of the anniversary episodes. For a storyline that had been such a big part of the last year or so the ending was everything it should have been and more. When they first arrived, I greeted the Timmins' with some trepidation. However, in the few months they've been on the street, the family, and more specifically Janelle, have become some of my favourite characters. Janelle brings a breath of fresh air to the street that we haven't seen since Angie, and long may it continue.

Moe: How could the highlight of 2005 be anything other than that truly magical bunch of episodes to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Neighbours? The special episodes saw the return of seven old friends to the series, the gripping climax to the excellently played out Karl/Izzy/Susan saga and a very affectionate and emotional tribute to the last 20 years. Seeing true Neighbours legends like Joe Mangel, Lucy Robinson, Rosemary Daniels, Doug Willis, Philip Martin, Annalise Hartman and Lance Wilkinson back on Ramsay Street was a dream come true, and there were some lovely moments of both humour and poignancy from their returns. Highlights included Rosemary's brilliant returning line "Do I look like a nurse?", Doug recalling Erinsborough as being the place where he had spent some of the happiest days of his life, and the long awaited confrontation between Phil Martin and Paul Robinson - 12 years in the making! And then, of course, there was the documentary. The treat of all treats for Neighbours fans, it featured lovely little moments from 'Plain' Jane Harris and Gail Robinson to Hannah Martin and Billy Kennedy. And again, it featured both humourous and touching moments, including Sarah Beaumont blowing a kiss to Karl and still illiciting a frosty response from Susan, Jane letting us know that Mrs Mangel was alive and well and still living with her in England, Hannah talking fondly of Neighbours' one and only gran, Helen, and Amy Greenwood telling her beloved Lance to give her a call. It was an unbelievable few episodes, which only served to remind me why I had stuck so lovingly with Neighbours through thick and thin throughout the years.

Rachel: My highlight for Neighbours this year was definitely the 20th anniversary specials! It was great to see all the old characters back again that so defined the programme (especially the character of Annalise Hartman) and for me personally, and loads of others, these characters were a big part of my childhood! Also, it was going back to the roots of the show and for a lot of people who weren't alive when the show first started, it was great to learn a little bit about how the concept began and how it was still relevent to the Neighbours that is still broadcast to the world today! It was also great to see Mark Little come back to reprise his role as Joe Mangel! You forget how funny an actor he was and how he just breathed Joe. He deserved to win the Laurence Olivier Award many years ago, and this is just an example of the talent that can come from these types of television shows.

2005 has been Neighbours best year! Things that could have gone wrong didn't and they ended up being fantastic television! I hope that 2006 lives up to 2005's expectations!

Rhys: As it goes without saying that it was fantastic to see Neighbours really push the boat out with its twentieth birthday episodes, I'm going to cite the return of Paul Robinson as my favourite occurrence of 2005. Although there has been some criticism of the character's evil streak which wasn't necessarily present in the 'original Paul', it has at least served to integrate him within the Ramsay Street community in a far more effective way than would have been otherwise possible. Also, it is unlikely that he can maintain the wicked persona for too much longer, and thus one hopes the more humane elements of Paul become more apparent during 2006, especially given the proposed expansion of the Robinson family. Indeed, the popularity of Paul with a whole new generation of fans has dispelled any suggestions that new viewers don't have any interest in former characters.

On a nostalgic level, his return has reinstated a Robinson not only in the programme, but also in No.22. To see him strut (or hobble) around the house in which he once had blazing rows with Gail and her shoulderpads, and also cheated on Chrissie is something most of us would never have dreamed of seeing again. As long as the writers don't vere too far away from the Paul we once loved, not necessarily for the right reasons, then this resurrection of a classic character should well and truly be embraced.

Steve: So… everyone’s already talked about the anniversary episodes, so I’ll try to think of something else. The Timmins family. Although it involved bringing in several new characters around the same time, and could have been a disaster, their arrival has certainly been a highlight for me. After getting to know, and love, Stingray, we were gradually introduced to the other members of the family and they have slowly proven to each be interesting in their own right. Between Dylan’s battles with his temper, Janae’s fixation on Karl, Bree’s trip to the spelling bee and Janelle’s… well, just Janelle, we’ve got some of the most colourful characters we’ve seen in years. Hopefully their individual voices will continue to shine through in 2006 and we might get to know a few other members of the family too.