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Features > The Best of 2006

2006 has seen some big changes in Erinsborough, with a serial killer on the loose, a nun, a Russian bride and the reunion of one of Erinsborough's most popular couples. In our last feature for the year, the PB team takes a look back at some of our favourite moments...

David: My ultimate highlight of the year would have to be the revenge of Robert Robinson. They stretched it out so well, with the mystery of who bombed the plane, the red herrings thrown around had us all guessing; and then even when we did know who it was, there was further confusion when Rob pretended to be Cam. I loved the way the Robinson’s and Izzy worked as a family unit throughout, and Fiona Corke’s guest stint was glorious. Although I’m sad that Cameron has been killed off at the cost of a talented actor and a character with huge potential; if it causes Paul’s redemption, then perhaps it was worth it.

The reunion of Karl and Susan has always been on the cards and I was absolutely delighted to see it happen this year. The episode “Fangs For The Memories” was pretty much perfect in every detail. As was the departure of one of Neighbours finest characters of recent years: Izzy Hoyland. They managed to trick us into thinking she may be about to die and we witnessed the unimaginable - she became a truly good person. The make-up scenes with Susan and Sky were both touching and clever; and the way her story has been turned full circle with her leaving with Karl’s baby but lying to cover it up, is just genius.

Gareth: The main highlight of 2006 for me? Has there been a lowlight? Seriously, Neighbours this year has been such a pleasure to watch, with storylines building up slowly, and then hitting BIG BIG climaxes. Obviously there are the biggies - Robert's reign of terror which, so brilliantly storylined, came out of nowhere and has had such a massive effect on Ramsay Street - there isn't one character who hasn't been touched or affected by this man's actions, and that's powerful stuff! The ramifications are still being felt far and wide in Erinsborough - and may this long continue. Other big stuff - Karl and Susan's much longed-for reunion (a great audience pleaser), Steph's cancer battle, Paul and Lyn, anything at all to do with Izzy, Sky's baby dilemma, Bree's family issues, the return of Gail Robinson, Stingray's alcohol problem - it's all been so great to watch!

I must mention two characters - Janelle and Lou - who have really made 2006 special for me. Janelle, the mother from hell, has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Nell Feeney is a terrific actress and one I really rate highly, and through everything this year, Janelle has had me totally gripped. Lou has been reinvigorated this year, what with his relationship with Mishka, the mystery over his time in Russia, and now his friendship with Janelle, one I had secretly hoped for a long time ago - and this year my wish has come true! Tom Oliver really shines in every scene he does, and I look forward to bigger things for him in 2007! The small stuff has also been great to watch - Neighbours has seriously had me addicted this year, with every episode keeping me hooked and longing for more, and long may this continue!

Lucy: Finally, my favourite couple, Karl and Susan, are a couple once more. Whilst many people believe it was rushed, I think it was finally time to reunite them, and will maintain that Alex was on more than a plot device! Onto other matters, I finally liked Izzy this year. Previously she's been a character I've loved to hate, but now, just after she departed, I've realised what an asset she was, and how much she made amends before she left. Who'd have thought that the glamorous girl who walked into Lou's Place 3 years ago would have changed the street so much?

Then there's Janelle. Janelle is probably my favourite character of 2006. As I said in last year's review, she's been a breath of fresh air, again, always able to add that slightly hilarious side to any serious situation. Her interaction with Lou also works very well, although I'd much prefer him to be with Mishka. I certainly think this has been the year of the older character, the teenagers on the street seem to have lost direction slightly, but the adults have gone from strength to strength.

Moe: Best scene of the year, for me, was the door to the hospital room opening, Paul Robinson turning around to see who had come in and fixing eyes with those of his ex-wife Gail. It was a historic moment for Neighbours as two of the show's most iconic 1980s characters were reunited on screen for the first time in 17 years, and the moment was beautifully underplayed by Stefan Dennis and Fiona Corke. Within a couple of scenes, it was just like old times again with Gail, glam as always (although sadly not dressed by Kamizole), tearing into Paul about his love of the almighty dollar and a big business deal while his family were left in pain. And as the weeks passed, there was a wonderful reawakening of the bond between the two. Of all Paul's partners through the years, you always get the sense that Gail was the one who meant most to him, and is the one he felt most passionate about. Throughout Gail's seven week return to the show, she was in the thick of the action as she grappled with her feelings for Paul and the fact that one of her beloved triplets was a murdering psychopath. I loved the whole run and the return of Gail was the standout moment in 2006 for me.

Rhys: Although there were some gems of stories and characters, on the whole I was not hugely fond of the 2005 series of Neighbours. However, I was much more optimistic about the dawn of 2006 and it is fair to say that I have not been disappointed. The brief return of Gail Lewis mid-way through the season was a definite high-point and it appeared that she had not lost any of her feistiness, but we got another glimpse of her vulnerability as she once again put her misguided faith in Paul and had her heart broken. Although I will be glad to see fewer firearms in 2007, the overall feel of the programme has been great during the past twelve months with new characters such as Loris fitting in well with the established cast. Indeed, the fact that the show has coped well with a comparitively large influx of 'new' regular characters this year is testament to the way in which old and new have been seamlessly interwoven. With rumours of some strong stories and characters planned for the next year, I for one cannot wait to see what Ramsay Street throws up in its 22nd year!

Ryan: For me the best of 2006 can be summed up in two words - Gail Robinson. Although her return had been rumoured ever since Paul came back, I couldn't really believe it would happen until I saw her walk into that hospital. Paul and Gail were an iconic Neighbours couple; true legends of the show from a time when it felt like the whole world was watching. To see them together on-screen again was a real treat for long-term fans, especially as Fiona Corke slipped back into the role of Gail so well. However, I was pleased to see how positively new fans reacted to the character too. Almost everything about her return was great - the way it brought the 'real' Paul to the surface, the nostalgic references to classic moments, and of course Gail and Izzy's perfectly written polite bitching. My only complaint is that Gail never got a scene with Harold, especially considering Robert's part in the death of his family. But who knows? Luke Devenish has already said she could be back in 2007; maybe we'll get those scenes then. I know I'm not the only fan hoping for it.

Steve: There have been many highlights for me in 2006. Some wonderful new characters in the form of Mishka and Loris, the twists and turns leading to Izzy’s departure, the reunion of Karl and Susan and Robert’s reign of terror to name but a few. But something I wasn’t expecting to enjoy quite as much as I did was Carmella’s return, complete with nun’s habit. Bringing the wonderful Natalie Blair back to the cast fulltime was a clever move, as she’s clearly very popular with the viewers, and turning bad girl Carmella into nun Sister Mary Catherine really shouldn’t have worked, but it did. The contrast between kind Carmella and her best friend, wicked Izzy, was another stroke of genius, and tying the whole thing in with her appearance in 2005 to try and win back Connor has served to make the whole epic plotline one of my favourites of recent years. Here’s hoping that they can keep Carmella as interesting in 2007, now that it looks like she might be forced to leave the convent for good.