Neighbours: All the Pop Hits and More – Channel 5

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   Following the sad demise of Neighbours, although it was brilliant to see Scott, Charlene, Mike and Jane reunited in the final episode, Channel 5 treated us to a nostalgia fest of songs by Kylie, Jason, Stefan Dennis and Craig McLachlan.   OK, it featured Natalie Imbruglia and Delta Goodrem too; and their music, although not Holly Valance’s which also belonged to that era, is probably better than the early stuff; but I’d left school and university by the time they came along, and I seemed to have lost my soundtrack by then.  Those halycon late ’80s and early ’90s days of I Should Be So Lucky et al take me back to schooldays, schoolfriends, school buses, schooldays crushes, Smash Hits and Just Seventeen; and this programme will have taken a lot of other people back to that time in their lives too.

Popular culture was a unifying factor for us.  There were certain songs, groups, films, books and TV programmes, and obviously football matches and other sporting events, which nearly everyone, regardless of which social group they were in, could discuss. Cool kids and quiet kids alike, girls and  boys alike.  Neighbours was a big part of that, and so was the music that its alumni produced.

I used to buy a lot of compilation albums – some on tape, some on CDs once we’d acquired a CD player – in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and they inevitably included songs by Kylie and Jason, and even the could-be-worse song by Stefan Dennis and the seriously-dire song by Craig McLachlan.  And they’re all associated with particular memories.  Mona is the school bus, I Should Be So Lucky is an art lesson spent discussing how we’d seen “Charlene” on Top of the Pops and The Roxy, Hand On Your Heart is someone from the year above blasting out that week’s top 10 on the school lawn (the teachers let it go as it was their final day before leaving for pre-GCSE study leave), Sealed With A Kiss and Never Too Late are both associated with tennis … I could go on and on.   Ah, and Especially For You … how wonderful was that?

It was actually very uncool to admit to liking Stock Aitken Waterman music, especially once the Madchester scene got going.   But we all loved it really.  The songs were so catchy.    I can still remember particular people trying to sing them at school and on the bus, but I won’t mention names!   And who would have thought that Kylie, or Charlene as we still called her when I Should Be So Lucky first came out, would go on to have number one hits in five different decades?  Amazing.

Yes, it was a great exercise in nostalgia … and it’s sad to think that Neighbours, such a big part of the zeitgeist of my formative years, is no more.  Thanks for the memories, guys!   We’ll never forget you.  Altogether now … “that’s when good Neighbours become good friends”.

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