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Features > The Best of 20 Years

It hardly seems five minutes since the residents burst onto our television screens, but this week, they're celebrating their 20th anniversary. Here, the Perfect Blend team looks back at some of their favourite Neighbours memories...

Aaron: As an admittedly 'new' viewer (I've only been watching for ten short years), the best thing about Neighbours for me is still my very first experiences with the show. I'd never come across anything quite like the show until I accidentally switched it on in late 1996, and for the next couple of years I was captivated by the diverse mix of characters, the comedy, the drama and the suburban nostalgia that made up these amazing years. From here the show has gone through its dark phases and miraculous resurgences but if I ever get disillusioned with it, I can dig out tapes of the late 90s and remember that the show was, and will always be, something special.

Billy: To me the greatest period throughout Neighbours' history was the latter part of the 1996 Season. I don't know how, or any specifics, but something about the show then just clicked with me. It was then that I crossed the line from being a regular watcher of a soap to a psycho fan. To me, I'll always see Neighbours at its best when nothing happened. That's what made it stand out from all the other soaps. Where others had huge shocking storylines, Neighbours just chugged along nicely with the day to day activities of a small community, and it worked perfectly. The characters, the storylines, even those colourful opening credits of everybody out in the street in the morning sunshine receiving their copies of the Erinsborough News and all heading off to work, tinkering with their cars, or even spinning around in circles for no reason (Debbie) - it just worked. Really, the show did find The Perfect Blend.

Emily: I have watched Neighbours on and off since it started 20 years ago but I really got into it (I mean every day religiously and setting the video if I am going to miss an episode) around the time the whole Karl/Susan/Izzy storyline started. I always found Karl to be really boring and this gave him a whole new 'edge'. Of course, I will always be on Susan's side and I think one of the great aspects of this storyline is that Susan Kennedy has been able to develop outside the roles of 'wife and mother'. Izzy is an amazingly unlikeable character, which makes her so good! Her insecurities are irritating as is Karl's complete soppiness regarding her since they got together but the current storyline of the identity of her baby being revealed has kept me riveted. (I can't stand the way Izzy just keeps wriggling her way out of trouble!) I think these more adult storylines are great. As an Aussie, it is also really interesting to see some veteran Australian actors such as Andrew McFarlane (Bobby Hoyland) and Joan Sydney (Velda Sheergold) appearing in the series and the fact that Stefan Dennis is back as Paul Robinson has been one of the best aspects of the show at the moment. I was so thrilled he has signed a three-year contract!

Joe: Neighbours emerged from its dark period from the late 90s to 2002 to produce, to date, 3 years of high quality drama which some may consider the show's renaissance. Thanks to the leadership of a new executive-producer, the show has introduced fresh new exciting characters, while bringing back some of the better ones from the past. The show has gone from strength to strength, and its recent celebration of 20 Years proves its important place in Australian TV. For me, one of the best things the show did was to re-introduce the Bishop family. Kerry having always been a favourite of mine from 'the early days', having her daughter Sky return, along with David and his family, was not only a treat to long time viewers but also a great way to bring some life into Harold, who was in danger fading into the background at the time. With more 'returnees' and dramatic storylines penned down, the future is only looking better for Neighbours.

Lucy: The last 2 seasons of the show rank as the best for me. Although 2005 hasn't quite lived up to the standard 2004 set, what we've seen in the last 2 years has been as good as anything Neighbours has ever done. The storylines that have entwined many characters together, such as the Karl and Izzy saga, Steph's cancer and Paul Robinson returning to the street have made for high drama, along with the comedic moments, that keep you watching. I've never been as excited about the show as I am now, and I only hope this excitement continues for another 20 years!

Moe: The 80s will always be the Golden Years of Neighbours for me. It was a magical time. Scott and Charlene. Kylie and Jason. The Wedding. Angry Anderson. Bouncer the dog. Madge and Harold. Des and Daphne, and then that car crash. Plane Jane Superbrain. Mrs. Mangel. Jim and Helen. Paul and Gail, and Lassiters Hotel. A daily game of cricket. The Waterhole. Daphne's Coffee Shop. The changing face of Lucy Robinson. Shane, Mike and Clive. Dr. Beverly. Eileen Clarke. A special time, and special characters. Never to be repeated.

Paul: Neighbours in the 90s for me was where I grew up with the show but I have a huge affection when I watch episodes from the golden era of the 80s. All those wonderful characters - Scott & Charlene, Madge and Harold, Helen, Mrs. Mangel, Des and Daphne, Jane... the list goes on and on. But then I think about the show today and how I still look forward to inviting different Neighbours into my home. Wonderful characters that you enjoy, empathise, despise but always care for. That's what keeps me coming back. So to Susan & Karl - get back together, one day. Paul, you're a legend, but you need Gail. Harold - Madge would want you to find love again! Timmins family, welcome. And Izzy, don't stop!

Rhys: To choose one, or even a few golden moments from Neighbours' history would mean leaving out the majority of the programme's heritage, for every season from the programme's varied twenty years holds special memories for me. Even those series I was never particularly fond of at the time now glisten with golden moments following the passage of time. One such example is series eleven from 1995. Although almost universally slated at the time of airing, even prompting strong rumours the show would be axed, looking back at episodes from the period there are many stories and characters to treasure. This is surely a testament to the idea that we really do look back at the past through rose tinted spectacles. However, unlike any period in Neighbours' history since the late 1980s, there is a very current and real acknowledgement that the recent series' since around 2003 have seen a huge renaissance in both the overall content of the show and also the affection with which fans hold Neighbours.

There is no doubting the production standards of the show at any point in its history, nor its ability to provide wholesome entertainment through its three main plot strands of comedy, drama and romance. At the time of the tenth anniversary in 1995 it seemed optimistic to assume the show would be celebrating its twentieth birthday. But, here it is, and it's now time to hope that in another ten years Neighbours will be loved just as much by me and its legion of fans world-wide.

Steve: It would be impossible to choose just one character, moment or season to sum up 20 years of Neighbours. Characters such as Sharon, Cody, Libby and Darren have probably been my favourites over the years, but I couldnít imagine the series without the presence of Helen, Madge, Harold and Lou. My earliest memory is probably of Lucy being trapped in a storm drain, and I still remember Codyís death as if it were yesterday. This website is testament to the sheer volume of characters and moments that have made Neighbours so special, and itís encouraging to see the programme in such healthy shape as it celebrates 20 years on air. Iím certainly looking forward to seeing what the next 20 years hold in store.

Happy Birthday Neighbours!

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