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Features > A Neighbour is Born By Moe

Births 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...

December 1987
Jamie 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.

November 1991
It 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.

January 1993
Baby 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.

Louise and Zac
July 1994
Given 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 daughter.

December 2001
In 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.

August 2003
Many 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.

Not Forgetting...
Although 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 in 1989.

Other 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 in 2001.


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...

You've 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.

The 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.

This 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.

Do 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 path.

Having 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!".

How 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.

After 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 screen?
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.

What were your favourite moments in the episode? "Helen Melon? perhaps?!
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.

Joe's 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.

I really thought it was a nice moment between him and Karl especially as the two men don't always see eye to eye.

Finally, 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?!

Magic Moments:

Episode 544:

Jamie's Birth

Episode 3920:

Ben's Birth

Episode 1563:

Andrew's Birth

Episode 4308:

Oscar's Birth