Entertainment & Arts

Neighbours at 30: Memorable moments

On 18 March 1985, Neighbours was first broadcast in Australia. Thirty years on it's still going strong and broadcast to more than 50 countries around the world.

To mark its 30th anniversary - and its 7,083rd episode - we give you 30 of the soap opera's memorable moments.

1. Scott and Charlene's wedding

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We begin with perhaps the most famous Neighbours moment. The wedding of Scott and Charlene Robinson - played by Jason Donovan and pop princess Kylie Minogue - was watched by some 20 million people in the UK when it was broadcast in November 1988.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Charlene walked down the aisle to Angry Anderson's power ballad Suddenly. And who caught the bouquet? Nosy neighbour Nell Mangel.

2. The only surviving cast member (just)

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Stefan Dennis - aka Paul Robinson - is the only actor from the first episode to remain on Ramsay Street.

Along the way, he's had five marriages, been held hostage, become mayor, survived a tornado and had his leg amputated (although eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted that the afflicted leg has changed from time to time).

For the show's 30th anniversary, the character will be mistakenly diagnosed with leukaemia.

"You are going to see a very, very different side of Paul," Dennis told Digital Spy. "He will take you on a rollercoaster. We will see a dark and very vulnerable side of him."

3. Famous Hollywood face #1 - Russell Crowe

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Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe appeared in four episodes of Neighbours in 1987. He may not have been memorable in his role as ex-con Kenny Larkin, but his mullet certainly was.

4. Famous guest star #1 - Lily Allen

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The pop star appeared on the soap as herself in 2009, appearing as a guest on Zeke Kinski's local radio show while a star-struck Karl Kennedy looked on. She even performed a couple of bars of her track 22.

5. Des and Daphne's wedding

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Des and Daphne appeared in the very first episode of Neighbours, where Daphne was a stripper at Des's stag party. After Des was jilted at the altar, Daphne moved in with him to help pay his mortgage and romance blossomed.

Their first attempt to get married ended in disaster after the wedding car was hijacked by a bank robber dressed in a gorilla suit. But after a six-month period apart, eventually made it down the aisle in 1986.

6. Daphne gives birth

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In Episode 544, Des and Daphne were out for a picnic when Daphne suddenly announced: "it's happening".

Although he was initially disappointed at forgetting to bring his cigars, Des rallied round and helped his wife breathe and push as the contractions became closer and closer.

With a bit of help from Jim Robinson and Beverly Marshall - who happened to be in the same area for a fishing trip - the baby boy was delivered safely. And all without Daphne removing her tights. Miraculous.

7. Famous Hollywood face #2 - Guy Pearce

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Memento/Iron Man 3/The Hurt Locker star Guy Pearce appeared as Mike Young from 1986-89, when he was a school friend of Scott and Charlene (and later Scott's best man). Abused by his violent father, Mike moved in with Des and Daphne after they offered to become his legal guardians. He was known for his relationship with Jane Harris, who later ended up engaged to Des, much to Mike's annoyance.

8. Famous guest star #2 - Paula Abdul

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The Opposites Attract singer dropped in at Lassiter's last year in a storyline which saw Karl reveal a long-time crush on the former American Idol judge. Sadly, Abdul was not accompanied by MC Skat Kat.

9. Henry gets locked out the house

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Played by Craig McLachlan, Henry Ramsay (brother to Charlene) was seen as the soap's prankster, always coming up with crazy schemes to make money... which inevitably failed.

One of his most memorable moments came when he was locked out of Bronwyn's house in nothing but a towel and was forced to make a hasty, naked retreat after the towel got caught in the door.

10. Bouncer's dream sequence

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In a bizarre moment in Neighbours history, Bouncer the dog got his own dream sequence. While watching a video of the wedding of his second owners Joe and Kerry Mangel, he dozed off and dreamt of marrying his sweetheart, Rosie the sheepdog, who lived next door.

Bouncer ended up moving to the country with the Mangels, but not before he fathered a litter of puppies in Anson's Corner.

11. Melanie Pearson's laugh

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Madcap Melanie (played by Lucinda Cowden) was best known on the soap for her foghorn, seal-like laugh and her frequent trips to the local Erinsborough astrologer, Madame Zolga.

She ended up marrying Joe Mangle, who fell in love with her after his wife Kerry was killed while out protesting a duck hunt. The marriage didn't last long though - they separated after a few years and Melanie moved to London.

12. Famous Hollywood face #3 - Alan Dale

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Alan Dale played Robinson family patriarch Jim Robinson for eight years, before falling out with producers over his pay. "I didn't like it there, they were not nice people," he later recalled.

Australia's loss was Hollywood's gain, as Dale became one of US television's most sought-after bit part players, with roles in Ugly Betty, The OC, The West Wing, ER and 24, in which he played the vice president.

For some reason, he always ended up dying... although nothing could top his Neighbours exit, in which Jim, mid-heart attack, knocked a fruit bowl to the floor in a suburban re-enactment of The Godfather's famous orange-spilling scene.

13. Famous guest star #3 - Little Britain

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Little Britain characters Lou and Andy made a cameo appearance in the background of a bar scene in 2007. True to form, Andy rose from his wheelchair to play a motorbike arcade game while Lou was given directions by Harold Bishop.

14. Lassiter's fire

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The Lassiter's complex has suffered a number of unfortunate incidents over the years. An explosion hit the area in 1993, destroying everything but the Waterhole pub; and an unknown arsonist (who later turned out to be Paul Robinson) set fire to two buildings in 2004, which devastated half the area - and handily led to a revamp of the soap's sets.

15. Mark and Annalise's wedding

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Mark Gottlieb and Annalise Hartman's wedding didn't quite go to plan in 1994. With both parties feeling pre-wedding jitters on the day, it was Mark who ended up backing out in the church. He later explained to his jilted bride it wasn't that he couldn't marry her, he couldn't marry anyone - and had decided to become a priest instead.

16. Helen Daniels' death

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Anne Haddy played Jim Robinson's mother-in-law Helen Daniels from the soap's start until 1997. Best friend to Madge, budding artist and head of the international Daniels Corporation, Helen was the caring grandmother of Ramsay Street.

Over her time, she was duped by a conman who took her life savings, had an affair with her daughter's fiance, fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a stroke.

Trying to settle a feud between the Ramsays and the Robinsons, Helen gathered the two families to watch Scott and Charlene's wedding. But as everyone remembered the old times and put their differences aside, Helen quietly passed away on the sofa.

17. The Lou, Madge and Harold love triangle

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The love triangle between Madge Ramsay (Anne Charleston), Harold Bishop (Iain Smith) and Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver) was a storyline that began before Neighbours even aired.

The trio first met at high school, where Madge first fell for the old "fuddy duddy" Harold, although she preferred the more roguish Lou. Then, unexpectedly, she married Fred Mitchell - a union that proved more than volatile.

Realising her mistake, Madge and Harold reunited and he proposed. But Lou flew down to Erinsborough to fight for Madge's affections, leading to many comedic moments. Madge ultimately chose Harold and they married in 1988.

After Harold's death, Lou pursued Madge again and they were set to be married, although he called it off when he realised he could never replace his love rival, whom he nicknamed "Jelly Belly".

18. Harold returns from the dead

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Loveable Harold was killed off in 1991 (aired in the UK in 1992), apparently swept out to sea when Madge's back was turned. All he left behind were his glasses.

Five years later he returned to Erinsborough, afflicted by that most convenient of soap opera diseases, amnesia. Ramsay Street stalwart Helen Daniels stumbled across him while in a Salvation Army shop and reunited him with his beloved Madge.

19. Madge's death

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Fiery Madge Bishop was a much-loved character on Ramsay Street - which was named after her grandfather - appearing from 1986-92, and again from 1996-2001.

After reuniting with Harold after he returned from the dead, the couple renewed their vows and took in foster child Paul McClain. But tragedy struck when Madge was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Told she only had months to live, it was further shortened when she developed septicaemia after cutting her finger.

Returning home, Lou confessed his never-ending love for her and she died in the arms of her beloved Harold.

20. Famous Hollywood Face #4 - Liam Hemsworth

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The Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth starred as paraplegic Josh Taylor - who was injured in a surfing accident - from 2007-08. Caught in a love triangle between regular characters Bridget Parker and Declan Napier, he dated Donna Freedman to get back at Bridget, but ended up losing both girls in the process.

Liam wasn't the first Hemsworth brother to appear in the soap, either, Chris - aka Thor - played Jamie Kane in 2002; and older brother Luke played Nathan Tyson in 2001 and 2002.

21. Susan's memory loss

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You know the saying "don't cry over spilt milk?" Well, in Susan Kennedy's case, that is terrible advice.

In 2002, the character slipped on an upturned bowl of cereal and sustained a head injury, erasing 30 years of memories.

She started to believe that she was 16 years old again - a state of affairs that only got more complicated when she accidentally wandered into a 1970s theme party.

Jackie Woodburne, who plays the character, is Neighbours' longest-serving actress, having filmed more than 5,000 episodes of the show.

22. Toadie's weddings

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Jarrod "Toadfish" Rebecchi has been unlucky when it comes to weddings. His marriage to Dee Bliss in 2003 (above) came to an abrupt end within hours of their nuptials when he lost control of their car and drove off a cliff into the ocean. Her body was never found.

On his second wedding day in 2010, Toadie left Steph Scully at the altar after realising she didn't really love him.

And on his third, to Sonya Mitchell in 2013, a gas bottle exploded during the reception which destroyed their marquee, leaving Sonya with a fractured skull and no memory of the wedding. The explosion also killed characters Priya Kapoor and Rhys Lawson.

23. Like father, like son

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Following in his son Jason's footsteps, Terence Donovan joined the soap for a four-year stint in 1990 and came back for a brief appearance last year along with his on-screen wife, Pam, where it was discovered he was developing Alzheimer's Disease.

24. Characters return with a head transplant

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Neighbours has never been averse to sending a character away and bringing them back with another actor in the role.

Lucy Robinson has been played by no fewer than three different actresses - beginning with Kylie Flinker (1985-87), Sasha Close (1987-90) and Melissa Bell (pictured above, 1991 to date).

Other characters to be played by multiple actors include Cody Willis, Cheryl Stark, Summer Hoyland and current Ramsay Street residents Brad Willis and Lauren Turner (nee Carpenter).

25. Famous Hollywood face #5 - Margot Robbie

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Margot played feisty teen Donna Freedman in the soap from 2008-11 before she went on to disrobe in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.

During her time on the show, Donna had numerous storylines which saw her search for her biological father, explore her bisexuality and get involved in numerous love triangles.

The 6,000th episode of the soap featured Donna's wedding to Ringo Brown (played by Sam Clarke, pictured above), but a month later the groom was run over by Steph Scully's motorbike and died. Donna ended up leaving Ramsay Street for a fashion design school in New York. Probably for the best.

26. Pop princesses

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Many who got their start in Neighbours went on to forge pop careers - although not all on the same scale as Kylie Minogue.

Holly Valance starred as Felicity "Flick" Scully (1999-2002), who was best known for chasing most of the neighbourhood boys and left Erinsborough to work for Lassiter's hotel branch in New York.

Delta Goodrem appeared as aspiring singer Nina Tucker (2002-05), written in to specially promote her single, Born to Try. Nina ended up finding success as a Bollywood star in Bombay, before becoming a film and TV star.

And Natalie Imbruglia played Beth Brennan (1992-94), a simple country girl who fled to Erinsborough after being abused by her stepfather. She was meant to marry Brad Willis, but left him at the altar after he admitted he was having an affair with her best friend Lauren.

27. The plane crash

In a storyline almost Hollywood-esque in ambition, a bomb on board an aeroplane killed off three characters - Harold's son David, daughter-in-law Liljana and grand-daughter Serena - back in 2005.

The Lassiter's 20th anniversary party ended in tragedy when the plane Paul Robinson had chartered for a joy flight exploded mid-flight and plunged into the sea.

Thanks to some strobe lights, dry ice and a wave machine, Ramsay Street residents were left fighting for their life while rescue helicopters scrambled to their aid - but it was too late for David who died. Liljana and Serena's bodies were never found and it was assumed they met a watery fate. Hmmm… does that sound a little familiar?

28. The Eclipse

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Set around an annular eclipse, episode 6,646 in May 2013 saw the lives of several Ramsay Street residents change. Detective Mark Brennan returned from the dead, Kyle Canning did serious damage to his eyesight by looking at the sun (after his dog Bossy ran away with his safety glasses) and there was also a child kidnapping.

It also saw the return of Brad Willis (complete with head transplant) to the street with his wife and two children (pictured above).

29. The Erinsborough tornado

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The residents of Ramsay Street were left in a spin when a tornado unexpectedly hit Erinsborough in August 2014.

There were broken ribs, the cracking of a prosthetic leg, and a marriage proposal, but it was unfortunate Kyle who was found trapped in a portable toilet when the wind hit. Let's hope he flushed first.

Poor Lou Carpenter became trapped in Harold's Store, lodging a piece of food in his throat. Luckily, Susan Kennedy was on hand to perform an emergency tracheotomy and save his life. As you do.

30. Neighbours vs Zombies

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A 2014 web-only Halloween special saw several Neighbours characters come back to life... or, rather, death.

The cast included Drew Kirk (Dan Paris) who died in a horse riding accident in 2002, and Stingray Timmins (Ben Nicholas), who was written out with a brain aneurysm in 2007.

To give the spooky mini-series a twist, the dead were unaware they'd passed away. "Could a dead person punch you in the arm?" Stingray asked a slightly startled Bailey Turner.

The answer, it transpired, was yes.

Additional research by Mark Savage and Caroline Briggs.

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