> The Odd Couples by
Dot and Ethel, Rita and Norris, Amos and Mr Wilks… soap has always thrived on mismatched double acts, and Neighbours is no exception. We look back at some classic Ramsay Street ‘odd couples’.
Madge and Harold
When Charlene Mitchell heard her mother’s teenage sweetheart was in town and decided to do a spot of matchmaking, it looked like a recipe for disaster. What could the stuffy, god-fearing, teetotal vegetarian Harold possibly have in common with fiery, plain-speaking Madge? Yet somehow from their very first scene together, we just knew these two were meant for each other. While Scott and Charlene were love’s young dream for the world, Madge and Harold showed us that love second time around could be good too. Maybe it was the classic ‘opposite attracts’ syndrome. Maybe it was just good writing, or the superb chemistry between Anne Charleston and Ian Smith. Whatever it was, this yin and yang couple became synonymous with Neighbours over the next fourteen years; not even Harold’s ‘death’ could part them! Sadly, Madge’s passing in 2001 was definitely final, but the Bishops’ place in Ramsay Street history is assured.
Des and Daphne
He was a gawky assistant bank manager; she was confident, outgoing and took her clothes off for a living. On paper, Des and Daphne seemed hopelessly mismatched, but after starting off as ‘strictly landlord and tenant’, romantic feelings developed between this unlikely pair, despite Daphne dating Des’s mate Shane Ramsay. Their romance is still one of the most complex in Neighbours history; Daphne was engaged to Shane not once but twice before finally getting Des to the altar, while Des was busy being conned by an old girlfriend who convinced him he was a dad. Eventually the couple did tie the knot, to the delight – and relief! – of Ramsay Street and viewers alike. Possibly the strongest Neighbours couple ever, only death could separate them – and tragically, it did after just two short years.
Joe and Kerry
On the face of it, vegetarian hippy chick Kerry Bishop and beer-swilling loudmouth Joe Mangel weren’t an obvious match. But looking closer, the pair actually had a lot in common; both were single parents, and both had disappointed their conservative parents in the past. Once these factors brought them together, a true love was born, and Joe and Kerry became one of the most popular Neighbours couples post Scott and Charlene/Des and Daphne. Sadly true happiness never lasts long in soap, and an ill-fated protest against duck hunting claimed Kerry’s life at the very time the Mangels should have been at their happiest – when they were expecting their first child together. Joe’s turbulent love life in the following years is testament to how right the pair were for each other.
Toadie and DeeAttractive nurse Dione Bliss had no shortage of handsome suitors, but if ever there was proof that looks aren’t everything, Dee’s romantic track record provided it. Pretty boy athlete Joel Samuels struggled to grow up and commit, while dirty Doctor Darcy cheated on Dee with her best mate. Eventually she realised that her perfect man had been under her nose all the time, and instead of kissing a frog to find a Prince, Dee tried a Toad instead. Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi might not have been overly blessed in the looks department, but he was loving, kind and treated Dee with the respect she deserved. Their wedding delighted fans, but to call the couple’s happiness short-lived would be an understatement, with a car crash claiming Dee’s life before the honeymoon had even begun. (Is there a pattern emerging here?)
Jim and Helen
Reg Watson famously created Helen to dispel the myth that ‘all mother-in-laws are battleaxes’, and her relationship with Jim was unique. Jim and Helen were more than just mother and son-in-law; they were best friends, and a true team. Between them they made a great job of raising Jim’s four kids, not to mention giving several waifs and strays a home when they needed it. While both would remarry, their friendship would outlast both spouses, and whatever else changed, it remained the one constant in their lives. Although Helen outlived Jim, she never really seemed complete without him, and the sight of her sobbing over his dead body will stay with Neighbours fans forever.
Jane and Mrs Mangel
For most teenagers, being dumped on their busybody grandmother while their parents disappeared to Hong Kong would be a nightmare. Not so for Jane Harris. While Mrs Mangel’s strict ways sometimes made her despair, for the first time in her life Jane had a home were she was loved and cared for. Jane’s metamorphosis from ‘Plain Jane Superbrain’ to the confident, attractive Lassiter’s Girl caused some clashes between the two, but there was never any doubt that Nell adored her granddaughter and vice versa. Although Nell’s marriage to John Worthington would separate the pair for a while, her failing health led Jane to follow her to England a year later where, according to Annalise’s documentary, the two still live together.
Lou and Harold
For the best part of forty years, fuddy-duddy Harold and larrikin Lou were rivals for the hand of Madge, and even though the pair made up after Madge picked Harold for the second time, a friendly rivalry continued. However, after Madge’s death the friendship between this chalk and cheese pair came into its own. First becoming housemates and later business partners, Harold and Lou somehow complement each other; Lou encouraging Harold to take the odd risk, and Harold reigning Lou in when his schemes get too silly. Although the arrival of Rosie Hoyland almost had the pair daggers drawn again, their friendship eventually proved stronger than any romantic feelings for the reverend. This unlikely partnership was sealed for good when Harold made the ultimate gesture and donated one of his kidneys to save Lou’s life.
Dylan and Paul
When bad boy businessman Paul Robinson returned to Erinsborough, there was something inevitable about his union with evil Izzy. What no one saw coming was the bond he would form with one-time tearaway Dylan. Maybe Paul saw something of his younger self in the ambitious bogan boy, despite the obvious difference in their backgrounds. Maybe having spent time behind bars himself, Paul understood how hard things would be for a detention centre ‘graduate’ trying to make it. Whatever the reason behind it, Paul’s friendship with his young protégé is one of the most interesting on Ramsay Street at the moment – and if Paul gets his way, the pair could end up as father and son-in-law…