> A Neighbour is Born By
on Ramsay Street aren’t as frequent as the race to the altar
or even deaths, but when they do occur, one thing is always
guaranteed: there’s always equal measures of dramatic and
poignant moments. Here, we take a look at the Neighbours births
down through the years...
holds a special place in the history of Neighbours,
as the first baby born in the series. Born in the middle
of the bush, where his parents Des and Daphne were enjoying
a picnic with neighbours Jim Robinson and Beverly Marshall,
Jamie’s birth in such unusual circumstances set the
standard for all the births that followed over the years.
After Jim and Beverly delivered Jamie, dad Des fainted
and had to be taken back to Erinsborough Hospital on
a stretcher alongside new mum Daphne! Jamie’s doting
gran Eileen was soon on hand to suggest Winston Kingsley
as a name for the new tot, but Des and Daphne managed
to compromise with her and give Jamie the name Kingsley
as his middle name.
was another four years before Ramsay Street welcomed
another baby to the street - this time it was Andrew
Robinson, and his entry into the world was just as dramatic
as Jamie’s. Dad Paul had meticulously planned out the
quickest route to the hospital in the weeks leading
up to the birth, but the one thing he never thought
of was ensuring there was enough petrol in the car.
And so, as Paul drove wife Chrissie to hospital on the
day she went into labour, the car ran out of petrol,
and they were stranded on a deserted country lane. Paul
was forced to run on ahead in search of help, and when
he stumbled upon an ice-cream van, he persuaded the
driver to take Chrissie to hospital in the back of the
van! Luckily, Chrissie made it to the hospital without
having to give birth in the ice cream van, and after
a few hours of labour, she gave birth to Andrew - much
to the delight of Paul, who finally had a son he could
groom to take over his business empire in years to come.
Hope’s birth was the result of a dramatic few months
in the life of her 18-year-old mother Phoebe. Year 12
student Phoebe and her boyfriend Todd Landers had slept
together and when Phoebe ended up pregnant, they decided
they should have the baby aborted. But at the last minute,
Todd changed his mind and raced to the abortion clinic
to stop Phoebe. However, he was hit by a van while running
across the road and rushed to hospital. Phoebe got a
call to tell her what had happened just before she was
about to undergo the termination, and she rushed to
the hospital to be by Todd’s side. Todd was thrilled
when Phoebe revealed she was still pregnant, but his
joy was short-lived for he suffered a cardiac arrest
and tragically died. Todd’s death left Phoebe more determined
than ever to go ahead with the pregnancy, especially
when on the day of the funeral, Todd’s ghost visited
her and assured her he would always look after her and
their daughter. Six months later, a baby daughter did
indeed come along - although in true Ramsay Street fashion,
the circumstances were dramatic. During the pregnancy,
Phoebe had met and fell in love with Stephen Gottlieb,
who had also lost his partner in tragic circumstances.
Stephen proposed to a heavily pregnant Phoebe on her
18th birthday, and they planned to marry before the
baby’s birth. But on the eve of the wedding, Phoebe
went into labour, and despite Stephen almost passing
out at the idea, he managed to deliver the child in
the living room of No.30. Baby Hope was then placed
in an incubator for several days, due to her premature
birth, but after she was given the all clear, Phoebe
and Stephen went ahead with their wedding plans and
got the greatest present when Pam Willis brought Hope
home from the hospital on the day of the nuptials.
that Erinsborough seemed to have a remarkably low birth
rate over the years, it was a huge event when two Ramsay
Street babies were born on the very same day. While
single mother Gaby Willis was giving birth to her son
in a private maternity home, Cheryl Stark was having
a much more difficult time at Erinsborough Hospital.
Cheryl’s pregnancy had been plagued with problems, and
after she suffered a seizure, she went into premature
labour and was forced to have a caesarean section. Luckily,
the baby - a little girl - was born safe and well, and
Ramsay Street celebrated the birth of its two newest
residents. However, both Gaby and Cheryl had chosen
the name ‘Shannon’ for their babies, and it was only
when Gaby’s dad Doug and Cheryl’s partner Lou Carpenter
went to register the births at the registry office that
this was realised. After some bickering and arguing,
Doug decided to name the boy Shannon Zachary while Lou
opted for Shannon Louise. Neither Gaby or Cheryl were
happy with the choices at first, but Gaby soon warmed
to the shortened version, Zac, and Cheryl and Lou gradually
came to adopt the pet name of ‘Lolly’ for their baby
time honoured tradition, Libby Kennedy couldn’t possibly
give birth without some dramatic event getting in the
way. And so, Libby found herself going into labour when
she got accidentally locked into a barn while attending
the annual Oakey rodeo with husband Drew and father
Karl. Luckily, Libby managed to call mum Susan with
her mobile phone, and Susan in turn called Karl and
Drew to tell them what had happened. After they found
the barn that Libby had been locked in, she was airlifted
rather inexplicably to Erinsborough Hospital and gave
birth there to a son, Ben. Moments later, however, Libby
flat lined and it was touch and go as to whether she
would survive. But she pulled through and went on to
raise her son alone, after Drew was tragically killed
in a horse-riding accident the following year.
thought Joe and Lyn Scully were mad for wanting to have
another baby after their four kids had all grown up
and largely flown the nest. But the Scullys loved the
idea of being parents all over again and after an at
times rigorous attempt at getting there, Lyn finally
discovered she was pregnant as 2002 drew to a close.
During the pregnancy, Lyn and Joe were thrilled to be
told they were having a little girl, although they had
cause for concern when they were told the baby had turned.
Luckily, through various forms of exercise, Lyn succeeded
in turning the baby back around again. As the day of
the birth drew closer, the Scullys went to stay at the
beach for a few days of relaxation, but they ended up
experiencing panic instead when the baby started pushing
against Lyn’s diaphragm. Joe took her back to Erinsborough
Hospital, where Lyn was distressed to hear that the
baby had turned again and she would have to undergo
a caesarean section. Having given birth to the rest
of her children naturally, Lyn was adamant that her
fifth child wasn’t going to be born through caesarean
and persuaded the doctors to let her try overnight to
turn the baby again. After a long night of exercises
and relaxing baths, Lyn succeeded and the next morning
she was relieved to be told the section was no longer
necessary. However, no sooner was she home again than
her waters broke and the Scullys were forced to race
back to hospital, where Lyn later gave birth - the normal
way. And as an extra surprise to the couple, their new
baby turned out to be a boy, and not a girl as they
had been expecting and they named him Oscar.
Jamie was the first on-screen Neighbours birth, he was
pipped to the post slightly by Sam Cole, who was born
off screen in 1986. Frederick Samuel was the son
of Madge Ramsay’s ex-husband Fred Mitchell and Susan
Cole, the woman Fred had left Madge for. By the time
of Sam’s birth, however, Fred had abandoned Susan too
and she headed for Erinsborough, where Fred’s 17-year-old
daughter Charlene was now living with Madge. Charlene
was a trusted friend to Susan, and after Susan gave
birth and had to be hospitalised for a period, Charlene
had to look after Sam and even passed him off as her
own so that Madge would let the baby stay.
Charlene later gave birth to her own baby - Daniel -
with husband Scott Robinson in 1992, although the birth
took place in Brisbane where the couple had moved to
off-screen births included Paul and Gail Robinson’s
triplets - Cameron, Lucinda and Robert - in 1989. They
were born in Tasmania after Gail had fled there in the
wake of her father’s death and the break-up of her marriage
to Paul. Lou Carpenter’s daughter Lauren gave birth
to a son Mason in 1999, and for a time, Lou proudly
displayed a photo of his first born grandson in his
living room. And Sarah Beaumont, the woman who drove
a wedge between Karl and Susan Kennedy, had a little
girl, Antigone, in London with her husband Peter Hannay
Helen MacWhirter, the scriptwriter responsible for Oscar’s memorable
birth episode last week on UK screens, gives us the inside story on one
of the show’s biggest episodes this year...
said previously that you were thrilled to be asked by Luke
Devenish to script the Scully birth. Can you tell us a little
about how you approached the script once you were asked?
Well, if you mean, did I book myself in for a pre-natal refresher
class, or start skulking around the corridors of the local
maternity hospital looking for inspiration, no, I didn't do
anything quite like that. But I was very conscious of the
fact that this would be one of the most anticipated episodes
of the year, so I felt a certain amount of extra pressure
to get it right. Of course it helped that the storyliners
had already done all the hard work. The scene breakdown read
so fluently, with the drama paced so perfectly, I felt quite
confident going into first draft. The only thing that concerned
me a little was the repeated use of the clock/watches etc,
to show the passing of time.
scene breakdown had included a note saying that they wanted
a "24 Hours" sort of feel to the episode and that
each scene was to start with a shot of the time. I thought
it was a great idea but I was a little worried about overdoing
it. In some scenes it would have been inappropriate and in
others it might have had the opposite effect of slowing the
pace or just being too 'clunky' so, I discussed it with Luke
and he basically said, just use my own judgement, so I did.
I hope I got the balance right and didn't drive you all nuts
with too many 'clock shots’. I was also keenly aware of the
intensity of the story. It was almost full-on drama from go
to woe, so I looked for scenes where I could introduce a little
levity to the proceedings to give the audience (and the scriptwriter)
a chance to catch their breath. An example of that would have
been where Joe in the excitement and confusion of it all,
anxious to get to the hospital, exits the house leaving Lyn
behind. Not very original I know, but I thought it was a very
Joe thing to do and I don't know what was funnier, the way
Lyn just slumped on the floor in resignation or the look on
Joe's face when he returned to collect her.
episode was extremely significant in that it broke with Neighbours
tradition and focused entirely on the story involving the
birth of Baby Scully. What were your thoughts on this idea?
I was truly delighted to see that they'd done that and again
felt very privileged that they had the confidence in me as
a writer to handle the 'break with tradition'. I don't think
focusing on the one story was necessarily a brave decision,
but rather an obvious one. We were all of the opinion that
the birth of Baby Scully wasn't something you could cover
in a few beats. With Lyn's pregnancy playing such a large
part of the overall Neighbours story for the past 20 odd weeks,
the audience would have felt completely ripped-off.. Nor was
it something you'd want to hold over from one episode to the
next, given the heart-stopping complications of the actual
birth, you couldn't leave Lyn just hanging there. It would
have made a great cliffhanger, but the story would have lost
its momentum. It was a special event that deserved to be showcased
in a special way and I think it worked really well.
you think it's something that Neighbours should do again when
an important event occurs? And do you think there are previous
events that could have benefited from adopting this formula?
I think it's great to do something a little out of the ordinary
every now and then and if the feedback is good and the audience
reacts positively, then I'm sure the producers would consider
more of it, but not for the sake of just being different.
The story would have to warrant it. Judging from the scene
breakdowns I've been reading lately, there'll be plenty of
opportunities in the future for the writers, actors, directors
etc. to expand themselves creatively. Maybe this was just
a taste of things to come. Do I think there are previous events
that could have benefited from adopting this formula? It's
really hard to say. The reason why this one worked so well
was because of the strength of the performers involved. It
was perhaps the one instance where the success of an episode
rested solely on the shoulders of two cast members. Lyn and
Joe were in just about every scene. It was entirely their
story and their job to carry it, which is a pretty big ask.
I'm not sure how long it took to shoot the entire episode
but due to the nature of the story the physical and emotional
demands would have been enormous. Fortunately Janet Andrewartha
and Shane Connor are such accomplished and talented actors,
they were able to pull it off perfectly. I thought Janet's
performance in particular was very realistic and credible
- I'm so glad she didn't go the screaming, yelling and cursing
gone through labour yourself, did you add any of your own
experiences to Lyn's situation?
Well, everyone knows that once a woman's been through it herself,
she's instantly elevated to the status of world renowned expert.
We'll share our own experiences at the drop of a hat. Absolutely
no encouragement required. And what we've gone through is
always ten times worse and a thousand times more fascinating
than what anyone else has got to say on the subject. Betcha
starting to regret asking me that question, Mark!
Fortunately both my birth experiences were very different
to Lyn's. In fact if I'd have been my doctor and midwife I'd
have slapped me for being so boring. Short labour, no breach
position, no forceps, no caesarean, no drugs, no drama. I'm
a hero. Okay, so I'm also I liar. At one stage I do remember
asking for (more like demanding) a shot of pethadine but by
that stage it was too late. A bit like putting a band-aid
on a shark bite. No help at all so in my mind it doesn't count.
But I could definitely relate the pain Lyn would have been
feeling, the sense of panic and the feeling that once you're
in a room full of doctors and nurses, you're no longer in
total control of the situation. And we've all been through
the indecision of that whole baby naming thing - although
my husband did display a particular talent for rhyming every
name I suggested with something unflattering or obscene. I
though I had him on Aloysius until he said "Do the dishes".
However, Karl's line to Joe in one of the final scenes - "Well,
you know what they say. Dress your boys in pink, guaranteed
they'll grow up tough.". That came directly from my own
obstetrician, only it was in relation to the colour of the
curtains I had hanging in the spare room. I was grumbling
because I had a feeling I was having a boy and I knew I'd
have to change them. So I guess, as a writer, sometimes it's
the little things and sometimes it's the big things, but yes,
we all bring something of our own to the script. The funny
thing is though, Megan Herbert, who edited the script obviously
assumed I just made the line up - I mean when you think about
it, it kinda makes sense, but it doesn't?, so rather than
cut it she added Joe looking confused, responding, "Who
said that?", Karl shrugs and replies "I don't know".
So that gave me a bit of a laugh. I wanted to ring Megan and
say "My Doctor!".
long in total did you spend working on the script?
Probably around 4 or 5 days - which is a long time to spend
with your legs crossed. And when I wasn't physically sitting
in front of the computer writing, it was still very much on
my mind. My husband would come home from work, take one look
at me and say, "Don't tell me you're still giving birth?"
It was just one of those all-consuming stories that just won't
leave you alone until you write the words "End of Episode,
Closing Credits" and even then, after I'd sent the script
off I was still thinking of this I should have done, or should
have left out - but then, I always do that.
sending off your script to Melbourne and letting the actors,
editors, producers and director Chris Adshead do their work,
what did you think of the finished product as we saw it on
I thought it was great! I thought the direction was fantastic.
I loved the tight shots and the unusual camera angles. Megan
Herbert did an excellent job on the script edit and as I've
already mentioned the performances were truly outstanding.
It's just such a thrill when someone takes something you've
written and through their own interpretation turns it into
something even better. The one thing that did surprise me
though was, strangely enough, the music. While I was writing
the script, I had this really E.R. type vibe going
on in my head. I imagined most of the scenes would be played
against this very dramatic, fast, pulsating type music that
would add to the urgency of the story. But instead the music
seems almost the opposite to what I was expecting - very low
key, calm, almost pensive at times. But it worked.
were your favourite moments in the episode? "Helen Melon?
Ha-ha! Actually my favourite part in the script didn't even
make it to second draft, let alone onto the screen. It was
in the scene where Joe and Lyn have returned home to 'wait'
it out. Joe is on the phone to Valda, updating her on the
situation and Lyn is tossing orders to an attentive Jack,
asking for a cup of tea, then the newspaper, a piece of fruit
cake and so on and so on. While Jack is dashing to and fro,
Lyn suddenly gets a surprised look on her face, then looks
down at the (unseen) puddle forming on the floor at her feet.
Her waters have just broken. She then, very casually tells
Jack he might want to tell his father to get off the phone
too. Jack looks the question, then suddenly notes the (again
unseen) puddle on the floor, his hand flies to his mouth and
he gags, Oh gross! Then, the bit that was cut involved Harvey
the dog, coming up and sniffing around, then starting to lick
up the puddle while Joe desperately tries to shoe him away,
Jack tries not to faint and Lyn with a cup of tea in one hand
and a piece of fruit cake in the other struggles to get out
of the chair and onto her feet. Yeah, I know. I'm a very sick
person. But I did have another favourite part in the episode.
The scene in the delivery room when Oscar is finally born.
reaction really did it for me. The overwhelming joy and the
immense relief that it was all finally over, was pretty much
how I felt when I wrote the scene and then later when all
the trauma of the past 48 hours finally catch up with him
and he breaks down in the corridor outside Lyn's room.
really thought it was a nice moment between him and Karl especially
as the two men don't always see eye to eye.
did you get to choose the name "Oscar"?
You've got to be kidding. I'd just tried to get a dog to drink
amniotic fluids. Do you really think they'd trust me to name
the new baby?!