I have been an avid follower of Neighbours since the days of Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue). I have seen the parachuting into stardom of Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Alan Dale, Kimberley Davies, Natalie Imbruglia, Delta Goodrem, Holly Valance et al.
I have been present at countless weddings, seen innumerable characters trapped in disused or burning buildings, have searched with parents and neighbours for lost children, and have even witnessed the resurrection/reincarnation of Harold Bishop who had been washed out to sea.
Of course, there have been, and still are, aspects that annoy me. For example, plot lines and dramatic scenarios are repeated; the quality of acting is uneven (although, overall, it is better than many critics would have us believe); officers in authority (such as the police and representatives of the social services) are constantly surly and aggressive; the doctor and the lawyer are seldom at their jobs and mostly eat at the local cafe; the school seems to have only two teachers, one of whom (the principal) walks around with his shirt outside his trousers, is addressed by the pupils as Michael, and also eats at the local cafe.
Occasionally characters undergo a personality change – probably due to the large number of plot writers used and the difficulty of maintaining continuity in a story that has been unfolding five nights a week for twenty five years.
This list of irritations provides sufficient reason for me never to watch another episode. And yet, like Philip Pullman, I watch no other soap but return unfailingly for my daily fix.
Why do I do it?
Is it because I enjoy the exuberance of the youthful cast?
Is it because I feel I know the characters and have a genuine interest in what happens to them?
Is it because I welcome the challenge of solving the various dilemmas – what would I do?
I’m not sure what the answer is. Help please!