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Features > 20 Embarrassing Moments by Steve

We may love Neighbours, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see when things turn a little strange. It’s usually one of those episodes when you’ve gathered your family and friends and told them “It’s a lot better than last time you saw it, honest”, then Toadie appears with a robot and you’re a social outcast for another 10 years. Anyway, here are 20 of those moments when we weren’t quite so proud to be a fan…

The Christmas Panto
They may have had the excuse that it was a dream sequence, but still. Clive’s dream in the 1986 finale involved all of the residents dressed up as panto characters, which appropriately reflected their personalities. Hence Clive was Santa, Jane was a fairy and Mrs Mangel was… Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. Only in Neighbours.

Bouncer gets married...
Amidst reminisences about Kerry and Joe’s wedding (she was about to die, you see), Bouncer suddenly got to thinking about what it would be like were he to marry Clarrie McLachlan’s dog, Rosie. And so began one of those scenes that may never be lived down, such is its infamy.

The Lim family
When accusations of racism were levelled at Neighbours in the early 90s, they decided that they would tackle the issue in a way that only Neighbours could. In 1993, the Lim family made Ramsay Street their temporary home, while building work on their new house in Eden Hills was being completed. Julie Martin – a character with a bizarre set of morals to begin with – was chosen as the person who would object to the Chinese newcomers. Things started when Julie objected to Hannah spending time with youngest Lim child, Tommy. It soon escalated into madness, however, when the Martin’s dog, Holly, went missing and Julie accused the family of eating her. Although the story could have worked on some level, the appalling performances of the actors playing the Lims made it into a disaster from the beginning.

Hannah's rock
It’s widely known that it’s bad luck to take a piece of Uluru away from the rock and for Hannah Martin, the rock took its revenge when her Aunt Lucy gave her a piece as a present. The rock ended up being passed from house to house as more and more bizarre things started happening to the residents of Ramsay Street, until they were forced to take the rock back to its home where they thankfully buried the storyline too.

Helen the drug dealer...
As if a pre-cursor for what 1995 was about to give us, 1994 saw Helen Daniels accused of dealing drugs. The arrival of Mark’s hippy father Dave Gottlieb kicked things off when he gave her a remedy to help with her glaucoma. When Helen tried to get her hands on some more, she found herself being busted by the drug squad.

Pet Shop Boy
Describe in the media as “hilariously crap”, the cameo appearance by Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe took place in, yes, you guessed it, 1995. He turned up and asked Marlene and Helen, of all people, the directions to a local recording studio. Marlene, being the recording artist that she was, knew exactly where to send him. Annalise then trotted out to see the car leaving and asked who it was. Upon learning that an international pop star had been on her doorstep, she was understandably miffed, as she apparently owned all of their cds. The incident was never mentioned again.

Marlene and the gnomes
The year was 1995. Marlene’s gnomes were going missing. Normally, this would be a minor comedy plot that would last for a few episodes. However, Marelene’s missing gnomes suddenly became the crime of the century. When it was revealed that it had all been a prank by Dr. Karl Kennedy, everyone felt a little let down, if not completely confused.

Flakey the clown...
Evidently the writers had been watching too much of The Simpsons when they came up with this strange plot, involving Ramsay Street’s very own Bart Simpson, Joanna Hartman, saving a down-and-out TV clown, Flakey. Nobody could quite understand where the plot was going, until we found out it wasn’t actually going anywhere.

Cassie and Suede Tess fall in love
Because Bouncer’s wedding apparently wasn’t enough canine love for Ramsay Street.

It was certainly a nice idea – tying in Neighbours with World Vision’s attempts to raise the profile of the plight of people in Africa. The plot saw Brett win a writing competition and his teacher, Susan, join him on the trip as chaperone. Although some of the footage was harrowing, it just didn’t seem to fit into Neighbours and, like much of 1995, it was quickly forgotten.

Mark becomes a priest...
It was certainly… different. In actual fact, his decision to become a priest wasn’t really the embarrassing part of all this. It was his bizarre descent into lunacy and the fact that he thought he’d become immortal because he’d pledged his life to God. I don’t think any of us saw that one coming. Luckily, one coma later, he was back to his old self.

Harold returns from the dead
OK, so it all turned out for the best, but I’m sure we weren’t all quite so convinced at the time. When plans were announced to bring back Harold Bishop – presumed dead after falling into the ocean in 1991 – everyone wondered how they could possibly manage it. When amnesia was mentioned, we cried. Quite a lot. Thankfully though, having Madge and Harold back at number 24 soon cancelled out any embarrassment felt by the whole amnesia plot and, in actual fact, they saved the show.

Lance's Seven labours
Without Amy, Lance suddenly had no storylines – and no girlfriend. Then he met Allana Truman, the girl of his dreams. Since they were both huge sci-fi fans, it was decided that their courting ritual would take the form of him completing seven labours in order to win her hand. Andrew Bibby subsequently quit the show.

Beauty Tree
Having done nothing for her first year on the show, Lyn Scully’s first venture into the world of a storyline came about with the bizarre cosmetics-selling organisation known as Beauty Tree. After several weeks of irritating friends, family and viewers by going on about the wondrous people of Beauty Tree, Lyn realised she was being conned.

Roxy the fox...
Nobody was quite sure what kind of storyline this was meant to be. Boyd found a fox. It then appeared that both Boyd and the fox had a stalker. The stalker turned out to be Dee’s sister, Cecile. The fox was meant to be put down, but was saved by a kindly vet. The viewers woke up.

Susan's amnesia...
Yes, some people thought it was a good storyline, but they’re all safely locked away now. When Susan Kennedy banged her head and thought she was 16 again in 2002, it was a strange time for Ramsay Street. The storyline – unlike previous amnesia attempts with Mrs Mangel and Harold – was taken very seriously, some might say, a little too seriously to be taken seriously. The only consequences of the entire ordeal was the end of the Kennedy marriage. By the end of the year, they were back together and renewing their vows. Go figure.

Robot wars
There’s been many an occasion when we’ve wanted the boys from the House of Trouser to grow up and get a proper storyline. This was a prime example of them taking the comedy to a point where it wasn’t actually funny. For some reason which we’re still not quite clear about, Seamus challenged Connor to build a robot. He built a robot, and Toadie helped, which got Sindi’s back up. So she built a robot. Sindi’s robot won the whole thing and everyone returned to their normal lives.

Yes, they were necessary to keep the characters in the show and they mostly worked out well, but they also proved to be the source of many a critic’s jokes about Neighbours. When Beverley returned to Ramsay Street, after six weeks at a medical conference in Perth, with completely different face and a new hair colour, it was all very amusing as everyone recognised her straightaway. Similarly, Lucy Robinson survived one recast with her short, dark hair intact. But when the character came back after a year away at boarding school, she’d suddenly blossomed into a blonde bombshell.

Clubbing scenes
Neighbours has never been the trendiest of programmes, we know. But surely they could hire some extras who can actually dance. And find a nightclub that doesn’t have a pot plant in the corner.

Shopping scenes
Like those scenes featuring clubbing, the mid-90s saw a sudden surge of “shopping montages”, whereby a selection of characters would go to the mall and try on various unsuitable outfits, with some music, that may or may not have been fashionable, played over the top.