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Interviews > George Josevski

George Josevski has, for over eight years, been driving fans to quite possibly Australia’s most famous street, and if you love Neighbours then there can’t be anything more exciting than a trip to Ramsay Street! George is also the man behind the much talked about “Meet Your Neighbours Nights”, where you can get up close and personal with your favourite “stars” from the show. I caught up with George to chat about the tours, the nights and why everybody goes crazy for Neighbours

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how Backpacker King came about?
I was working at a backpacker’s hostel in St. Kilda and I wasn't an avid Neighbours fan! However, my boss at the time instructed me to take British fans out to the street (he is Croatian) as he was fed up in giving directions all the time. So I saw the potential in that for a future public Ramsay Street tour after seeing how excited the Brits were!

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Why are you known as the "Backpacker King"?
Again my boss was amazed at how well I interacted with the backpackers. So he just nicknamed me “Backpacker King”! After a while I decided to register the name for my company, and the rest is history I suppose!

You have been running the Ramsay Street Tour for eight years, how did this all start?
I have been running the tour since 1997 with the hostel Coffee Palace and The Ritz. In 2000 I started running it for the general public and in 2003 Backpacker King was made the official tour operator for Grundy Television.

There are many other Neighbours tours run by other backpacker hostels, but yours has been made official with Grundy TV, how did this happen?
They were aware of me for a while as I also run the “Meet Your Neighbours Nights” at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in St. Kilda and also as a professional tour operator, so they thought it would be a worthwhile partnership.

What do the real residents think of you taking over their street twice daily?
We have a wonderful relationship with them. They prefer people come to the street on our tour rather than on their own, as they trust us in making sure excessive behaviour is controlled. They also always know what time we will there.

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Have there been any hair-raising moments on the tour, such as people running wild in the street, or trying to steal Lou's letterbox?
Initially there was, like fans would bring their own video cameras and start acting out certain scenes in the front yards (that was a little freaky to see), kissing the ground and even taking a blade of grass from the nature strip!

It has been advertised on your website for a while that there will soon be a back-lot tour. This will take fans behind the scenes of the brand new Lassiter's set. Is this still happening, and if so when will it start?
Initially we were going to start in April 2004, but the producers informed us of the set being burnt to the ground. Then we were advised to wait until the new set has been seen in the UK. So now that has happened we will hopefully start the tour on weekends later in the year. Fingers crossed!

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You also run the "world famous" Meet Your Neighbours Night, how did this begin? During the tour we sometimes catch them filming at the street and some of the actors come down and say “hi” to the fans (they normally go nuts!). I was already running a trivia night at the Spencer Hotel in west Melbourne and wanted a Neighbours actor to attend the night to spice it up a little. After that was successful I started the Neighbours Night where fans can get up close and personal with the cast! We are producing a Bouncer mascot character to make it more fun and interesting. We are also having a spinning wheel for giveaways, we are calling it “Bouncer’s Wheel of Fortune”.

Do you ever get any old cast favourites doing these nights?
Always! We have had a lot this year with the 20th anniversary. Joe Mangel, Paul Robinson, Tad Reeves, Hannah Martin and Sam Kratz, the list is endless…

Alan Fletcher and his band Waiting Room play every week at the night, how did that come about?
He wanted to launch his band on a seperate night but we suggested performing on the Neighbours Night instead as an added feature and it blends in perfectly! Although now Alan does a CD signing after the show it does mean a later night for me, but hey, it’s great fun!

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As well as the tours and Neighbours nights, you also have a Neighbours shop. What can people get their hands on and will you be selling all 20th anniversary merchandise?
Yes, we are selling all the 20th anniversary merchandise and you can buy them all online at the Neighbours Tour site. Plus very soon you will be able to buy a miniature version of the Ramsay Street sign. We also would love to hear fans comments of what merchandise they would like to see, maybe Perfect Blend should do a survey!

Finally, what do you think accounts for the massive success Neighbours has enjoyed over the past 20 years?
I think people get addicted to its simple approach. The plots are basic, but interesting. I personally think that because your weather in the UK is so terrible, the Brits seem to watch a lot of TV soaps. I guess that's why we beat you guys in a lot of sporting events! Only joking!

Visit the Official Neighbours Tour website here

If you have any suggestions for merchadise you'd like to see available, email us here and we'll pass your messages on to George.

Interview by Karl. Added on 6th August 2005