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Features > Five Of A Kind by David

As Neighbours moves to Five, we look at five things that the two have in common...

1. The Spice Trade
On itís launch in 1997, Channel 5 made good use of the hottest pop act of the time: The Spice Girls. A colourful promotional trailer featuring the singers gave the new terrestrial channel a fresh and fun feel, while launch night featured the girls performing a short song called Power Of 5. Almost exactly ten years on, Neighbours would be featuring a cameo from a fifth of the group, in the form of Emma ďBaby SpiceĒ Bunton. When Karl and Susan made a trip to London in 2007, they unexpectedly ran into the superstar after she found the engagement ring Karl had dropped. It could also be said that when Neighbours began, it had itís own Spice Girls in its five female characters; Helen, Julie, Lucy, Maria and Daphne. Iíll let you decide which ones were Posh, Scary, Baby, Sporty or Ginger.

2. New News
When Channel 5 began, one of itís biggest innovations was itís approach to news presentation. Headed by the young and attractive Kirsty Young, 5 News dispensed with the stiff traditional style of reading whilst sat, and had itís presenters standing or perched on the edge of desks. Neighbours has long had a theme of youthful enthusiasm for journalism. Beginning with teenage Scott Robinson writing for the Erinsborough News, the journalistic-baton has been passed on to Cameron Hudson, Libby Kennedy, Sindi Watts, Rachel Kinski and now Riley Parker.

3. Unafraid Of Flesh
In the early years of Channel 5, the late night schedules were often stuffed with saucy material such as The Red Shoe Diaries, Real Sex and low budget erotic thrillers. Things hit rock bottom with naturist game show Naked Jungle, presented by Keith Chegwin wearing nothing but a pith helmet. Five has since cleaned up itís act, but Neighbours has maintained a PG-rated interest in skin since its first episode. Naturally, the warm climate means pool parties and beach wear are common place, but the occupation ďstripperĒ seems unusually popular, as does skinny dipping, posing nude for life drawing classes, appearing in adult magazine Ambrosia, doing nudey runs, spying other neighbours (accidentally or not) while they are sans clothing, costume-less spa jaunts, and losing your towel seems almost mandatory for some characters. Poor Ned Parker seemed to be half naked for most of his first two years.

4. Recent Revamp
After over five years onscreen, Channel 5 decided it was time for a change. Due to some of its programming, the channel had picked up a reputation as a purveyor of smut. On 16th September 2002 the station was re-branded as Five and given a whole new look. Big investment was put into popular and high quality foreign dramas causing critics and the viewing public to reassess. Following several months of sensational storylines and a dip in ratings, Neighbours also decided in mid 2007 to have a major rethink. Moving away from bombs and psychopaths, the suburban set soap shifted itís focus ďback to basicsĒ and concentrated more on the friendships and families of Ramsay Street. New sets, characters and titles all helped to rejuvenate the programme further.

5. Loving The Alien
Five have become renowned for their imports. Successful programmes such as House, CSI, Law & Order, The Tribe, Charmed, Sunset Beach, Prison Break, and most notably for fans of Australian soap, Home & Away. Over the years, Erinsborough has offered a home from home for many foreign visitors, including cockney Eddie Buckingham, the Lim family from Hong Kong, French girl Claire Girard, Belfastís Connor OíNeill, kiwi Lori Lee, Canadians Lisa Jeffries and Lana Crawford, Mishka Schneiderova from Russia and Essex man Adam Rhodes. As Neighbours itself becomes another of Fiveís imports, weíre hopeful that itíll continue to maintain itís position as one of Britainís best-loved foreigners.