Reference > Erinsborough News > The Great Santa Shake-Up!
The popular soapie brings in a new producer and signals some cast changes
Neighbours closes 1986 with a Christmas episode… and there are big changes coming in 1987...
The introduction of two new major characters, a bouncing baby for Des and Daphne and the departure of four Ramsay Street favourites – that’s what’s in store for Neighbours fans in 1987.
Regulars Peter O’Brien (Shane Ramsay), Geoff Paine (Clive Gibbons), Kylie Flinker (Lucy Robinson) and Gloria Ajenstat (Susan Cole) are leaving their roles in episodes which will screen early next year. But to compensate for the loss of the popular foursome, Network 10 and Grundys will introduce some new faces into the Erinsborough neighbourhood.
Heading the popularity stakes will be the long-awaited arrival of Des and Daphne’s first child. At this stage it has not been determined whether the Clarke baby will be a boy or girl, but it will be born, healthy around the middle of next year.
Other additions to Ramsay Street will come from two new residents – a young male and a young female. “They will probably both be in their early 20s and one or both of them may be related to someone already living in Ramsay Street – although they themselves won’t be brother and sister,” says Neighbours producer Phil East. “We won’t be having a Peter O’Brien clone or anything like that as Shane and Clive and the others are characters that will exist in the minds of viewers even after they’ve gone. Peter and Geoff have both been invited to return to the program when they can, so we won’t be killing those characters off.”
“Gloria is simply leaving when her contract comes up for renewal and Kylie’s parents wish her to complete her schooling fulltime.”
But while viewers eagerly await what lies ahead in 1987, there’s plenty of dramatic developments in store before Neighbours’ 400th episode – the last episode for 1986 – which screens on December 12. The whole of Ramsay Street becomes involved in a love triangle and this leads up to a special boxing bout between the two boys which will kick off this year’s final episode.
“During the fight, Clive, who is the referee, gets knocked out and he has this little dream about all the characters when he’s unconscious,” Phil says. That “little dream” sees the whole of the Neighbours cast in a very different neighbourhood – a Christmas fairyland in which they all play colourful characters.
“Normally the program would come off air at the end of ratings in early November but the network decided to keep it on air as long as possible so we were able to do a Christmas story,” Phil explains. “The cast take on characters who are totally over the top. They had a ball. Because the show is basically light and fun we had the opportunity to do this fantasy and we talked about what we could do to round out the year. Unlike Sons and Daughters, we have never had cliffhangers as a feature of Neighbours and we’ve stuck to that tradition. It will be a very gentle, happy ending to the year. It will still be quite a peak without having someone at death’s door.”
This article originally appeared in TV Week magazine dated 29th November 1986 and was written by Stephen Cook