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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year Nostalgia Addicts!!!

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Oh my goodness! 2015 is less than half an hour away, and as is always the case at the end of a good year, I’m starting to feel a little emotional. 2014 may not have been perfect but I really can’t complain. It’s a been a good year without any major problems, and all the people and things that matter are still here. So I’m sorry to see it go.

But I have to say I’m more than a little excited as to what 2015 may hold. I hope that there are lots of good things for all of us.

So everybody, I hope you’re celebrating in style and having fun. I hope that 2015 will be your best year ever!

Happy new year!

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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in This, That and the Other!

 
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With This Ferrero Rocher Advert You Are Really Spoiling Us

It’s New Year’s Eve. People all over the world are going to be celebrating, partying, guzzling Champagne, and generally having a good time as is customary all over the world. So I thought it would be very appropriate to share one of my favourite television adverts. It’s the Ferrero Rocher ad where the ambassador (not sure of which country) is throwing a lavish reception and has invited guests from all over the world. Despite their numerous languages, they all understand the language of fine chocolate – and Ferrero Rocher was definitely considered top quality confectionary back in the day. And let’s face it – during the festive season, there would always be at least one box of Ferrero Rocher among the tins of Roses and Quality Street.

Even though this advert is more than two decades old, it is still very well remembered. It’s the cheesy piano music along with that classic line, “Monsieur, with Ferrero Rocher you are really spoiling us.” It’s a line I still use when I want to be sarcastic – and of course everyone instantly knows where it came from!

 
 

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Bad Boys Inc. Had Us Walking On Air

Writing about The Perfect Year sung by the beautiful Dina Carroll reminded me of another song that was also released in December 1993 in the hope of becoming the Christmas number one (wasn’t that the case with all November/December single releases?) It’s by blink-and-you’ll-miss them boy band Bad Boys Inc. and it was a delightfully schmaltzy (nothing wrong with that!) ballad which I really liked at the time, and listening to it now, I’m transported back to the early nineties and my teen years. And like The Perfect Year, it reminds me of a really fab Christmas and New Year with my family.

Check out the video for Walking On Air, and look out for the post about the gorgeous Bad Boys Inc. who I think were one of the best British Boy bands – too bad they didn’t stick around for long enough!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in The Sound Of Our Youth

 

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The Perfect Year Makes The Perfect New Year’s Eve

No matter where I am, who I’m with or how I’m celebrating, there are some traditions that I have to adhere to for New Year’s Eve every year: I must have a glass of something sparkling; I must make sure Hubby’s nearby for me to kiss on the stroke of midnight, and I always see the New Year in – so no getting an early night! And another New Year’s Eve must have: a listen to Dina Carroll’s The Perfect Year, which I think is the perfect song to play at the end of the year, just before we see in the new one.

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Those who are familiar with the song will also know that it’s from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard but Dina recorded her own version of it which was released towards then end of 1993. I was a teenager at the time she released The Perfect Year and I’ve always loved her version of the song. There’s something about the power of her vocals and the emotion in her voice that really adds to the song and Dina really makes the it her own. This song played a huge part in me taking voice lessons and wanting to be involved in musical theatre. Furthermore 1993 was something of a great year for me and the festive season of that year was probably one of the most memorable we’ve ever celebrated, and The Perfect Year naturally reminds me of this wonderful time and the fab early nineties. Oh how those years passed by so very quickly!

 

The beautiful Dina Carroll

The beautiful Dina Carroll

 

1993 could also be described as the perfect year for Dina Carroll too – the only British singer to have had a natural American accent! She’s worked with David Cole and Robert Clivillés of C&C Music Factory. Her album So Close, released that year, entered the Top Ten of the UK Album Charts. Her hit Don’t Be A Stranger – wonderfully soulful ballad – reached number three in the charts becoming Dina’s biggest hit. Not only that but when The Perfect Year entered the UK singles chart, Dina became the only British female singer in the 1990s to have had two singles simultaneously in the Top Ten, along with  Don’t Be a Stranger. And in February of the following year, Dina topped off her phenomenal success with a much deserved Brit award.

 

Unfortunately even though Dina had accomplished a lot and still had the potential to go much further in her career, she gradually faded from the music scene. Sure she was still in the music industry and she made a couple of comebacks, with her last release was back in 2003 but since then very little has been heard about her. It’s a shame because she was a stunning lady with a stunning voice, and vocally, she was right up there with Whitney and Mariah. Dina also acted with a great deal of grace and class – something we don’t always see from celebrities nowadays. I still remember how apologetic she was when accepting her Brit award, and a couple of semi-rude words accidentally escaped her lips. How times have changed!

I do hope that Dina will return to the music scene soon but in the meanwhile, I will forever be thankful to her for recording the most beautifully sentimental track that makes New Year complete.

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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in The Sound Of Our Youth

 

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Sunshine In Winter With Delia Smith’s Summer Collection

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I am so excited with my latest purchase. This afternoon I bought a copy of Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and it brought back so many memories. This cook book accompanied the 1993 BBC series which used to be broadcast once a week on a week night which I used to watch when I should have been doing my homework!

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia's Summer Collection

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia’s Summer Collection

 

I’ve pretty much grown up with Delia; it’s no secret that my mum was a huge fan of TV cookery shows – she still is – so I got my liking for such shows from her. And Delia Smith was probably the first TV cook I watched in the early 1980s and her career started long before I was even born. I’ve watched all of her TV series as I was growing up which I’m sure contributed to my interest in food, cooking and trying new culinary delights. And I have to say it – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Delia Smith’s Christmas.

The great lady herself!

The great lady herself!

 

Delia is most definitely on a different plane when compared to today’s TV chefs. Not that I’m saying anyone’s better or worse as I have a lot of respect for those guys, but whereas they’re more fast-paced, energetic and often prone to tantrums, Delia is a lot more calmer with a no-nonsense approach. She reminds me of a school teacher with a great deal of patience! She also had a reputation for complex dishes and for using obscure ingredients that were difficult to source but flicking through Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, there’s very little evidence of that. Many of the dishes seem extremely easy to rustle up with ingredients that are easily obtainable. I was also surprised to see some recipes for Thai and Sri Lankan dishes so I’m guessing the British public were starting to become more adventurous when it came to food just over twenty years ago!

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

 

There are a lot of tasty recipes in here, as well as ones I remember her making from the show such as Coconut ice-cream with lime syrup, ice-tea, and coconut lime cake. That last one is especially interesting because I’ve never been much of a fan of desiccated coconut but it looked so fantastic on the show that I wanted to try it!

So here’s the recipe for coconut lime cake taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection which I will also be attempting soon. Go on – inject a little sunshine into winter!

INGREDIENTS:

 2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
 2 limes
 6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
 6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter
 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder
 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
For the icing:
 3 limes
 8 oz (225 g) icing sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
Equipment
You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) round sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, greased and the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).

METHOD:

For the cake, start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with clingfilm and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.

To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes. Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.

To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith. Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.

When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest. Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over. Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.

 

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Books Galore, Childhood Legends

 

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Mike Loves Plain Jane Superbrain… And Other Hot Neighbours Couples

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Anyone who saw Hollywood actor-turned-musician Guy Pearce’s recent music video for his new single Fly All The Way, will have noticed that there was another familiar face that we haven’t seen in a very long time. The familiar face was non other than Guy’s former Neighbours co-star Annie Jones, who played Jane Harris, the love interest of Guy’s character Mike Young in the hit Aussie soap back in the eighties and nineties.

Fly All The Way is taken from Guy’s debut solo album, Broken Bones, and the video sees Guy playing a number of different characters. Both the track and the video are very reminiscent of Foo Fighters in their earlier years so it’s right up my street. But what I was really excited about was to see Guy team up with Annie Jones again as she played his wife in the video. It was a very quirky indicator of what Mike and Jane could have been if the powers who be at Neighbours hadn’t insisted on splitting them up.


 

I absolutely loved Mike and Jane as a couple, and the video got me back into reminiscing mode. I thought about all the other hot couples from the early days of Neighbours who were a hit with the fans. Of course today Neighbours is still going strong with a lot of awesome double acts: Toadie and Sonia; Karl and Susan Kennedy; Brad and Therese Willis… but for me, my most memorable couples – even if they have been forgotten by some – have come from the eighties and nineties, when Neighbours was probably the most watched soap in Britain. And as fab as some of today’s Neighbours couples are, I don’t think they have that same spark as the couples of back in the day.

So here’s a look at some of the Neighbours’s couples that I think are tops!

1. SCOTT ROBINSON AND CHARLENE MITCHELL

Even though this list is in no particular order, it would have to be Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue) at the top spot, wouldn’t it! I don’t just think that Scott and Charlene are the hottest Neighbours twosome but they’re probably the most popular soap couple of all time; a screen romance that led to the actors who played them to become international stars. Their soap wedding, that was screened in the eighties, is still the most talked about TV wedding.

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Scott and Charlene met as teenagers, when Charlene greeted him with a punch in the face after Scott mistook her for a burglar. Despite the unlikeliest of starts, they soon started going out and became seriously loved-up although their relationship suffered a lot of ups and downs – which didn’t end even after Charlene became Mrs. Robinson. Their families didn’t expect their union to last due to them having married so young, but Scott and Charlene proved them wrong. The day sadly came when the Robinsons packed up and left Erinsborough for a new life in Brisbane where they are still living in happily married bliss. But the legacy continues as their son Daniel is now a Ramsay Street regular thus ensuring the legend that is Scott and Charlene will never be forgotten.

2. MIKE YOUNG AND JANE HARRIS

I always thought that Mike (Guy Pearce) and Jane (Annie Jones) were equally as fantastic as the Robinsons but their pairing was always overshadowed by their best friends Scott and Charlene. But nonetheless, their antics kept me glued to the screen. And as with the actors who played Scott and Charlene, I had hoped that Guy Pearce and Annie Jones would also become a real-life couple. It never happened but it seems as though they’re good friends which is pretty awesome too!

Dubbed ‘Plain Jane Superbrain’ by her less than friendly classmates, Jane Harris was the butt of jokes when she moved to Ramsay Street to live with her grandmother, Mrs. Mangel. Shy and awkward, Jane was desperate to fit in but didn’t have any luck in making friends – until she was befriended by Scott, Charlene and Mike after an initial frosty start. Despite looking quite plain, Mike asked Jane to be his date to the school dance – and I still remember the episode where Mike’s jaw hit the floor after Jane had had her makeover and he saw just how stunning she really was.

They soon started going out, but like Scott and Charlene, Mike and Jane also had their share of problems, from Mrs. Mangel standing in the way of their relationship to Mike’s ex-girlfriend Nikki returning to Erinsborough. then Mike did the unthinkable and cheated on Jane while on a trip to Canberra and the two broke up although they later became friends.

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After some time apart Mike soon saw sense and won Jane back who by now was the Lassiter’s Girl. This time round they seemed more rock solid than before. They still had storms to weather but they got through them and they were definitely one of my favourite couples. Then just when we thought that Mike and Jane had a real chance to be happy together, Jane fell for Mike’s closest friend and father figure, Des Clarke, which wrecked their relationship once and for all. Eventually Mike and Jane each left Ramsay Street to care for sick relatives without getting back together again.

I was so disappointed when they split. Even after Jane got with Des, I kept hoping that Mike and Jane would get back together again but sadly it never happened. Quite frankly, I don’t know what the scriptwriters were thinking because Des and Jane just weren’t suited – it was just infatuation on both parts. They didn’t have the same chemistry that Mike and Jane had. Whereas Scott and Charlene had their happily ever after, it would have been great if Mike and Jane had sailed off into the sunset together but it was not to be…

3. DES AND DAPHNE CLARKE

There aren’t many grooms who would fall for and eventually go on to marry the stripper at their bucks party but Des Clarke (Paul Keane) did just that! It was hardly love at first sight for either of them but they struck up a friendship, especially after Des was jilted by his bride-to-be Lorraine, and Daphne (Elaine Smith) eventually moved in with Des – as his new lodger!

Des and Daphne were destined to be together but in soap land, the path of true love never runs smoothly, and Des and Daphne had more than their fair share of obstacles to overcome: a kidnapping attempt; former flames; Daphne’s on-off relationship with Shane Ramsay; a supposed love child… but they successfully overcame these problems and Daphne went on to become Mrs. Clarke in what is considered to be Neighbours’ first big wedding.

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They soon had a son, Jamie, and Daphne became the first character to make television history by giving birth while wearing dungarees! But together with Mike Young, who was in their care, Des, Daphne and baby Jamie settled into family life. Unfortunately, this was cut short when Daphne was tragically killed in a car crash, leaving Des and Mike heartbroken. Who could forget Madge and Harold’s wedding, where their joy contrasted sharply with Des’s pain, and actor Paul Keane who played Des, gave a very moving performance as the devastated widower.

I couldn’t decide who was better suited to Daphne: Des or Shane. They both really seemed to love her, and Daphne had real chemistry with both men. However, I think the scriptwriters got it right with Des and Daphne and they certainly seemed to have something special. Des found it very hard to move on after Daphne’s death, and although he eventually left Ramsay Street to remarry and start a new life, his new marriage didn’t last, which is hardly surprising as Daphne Lawrence was his true love and a very hard act to follow.

4. HAROLD AND MADGE BISHOP

Madge Ramsay (Anne Charleston) had dated Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) when they were both at high school but the romance had fizzled out and they both went on to marry other people. But Madge returned to Ramsay Street after her marriage ended where she was eventually reunited with Harold.

As usual, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and Harold had to work hard to get Madge to the alter, determined not to lose her a second time. He finally got to make an honest woman of Madge and despite the fact that they were as different as night and day – Harold could be a little too serious, self-righteous and a bit pompous, while Madge was very straight-talking, fiery and feisty -they were a twosome that worked well together.

Tragedy struck when Harold went missing on a trip and was presumed dead. A heartbroken Madge returned to Ramsay Street and later started a relationship with Lou Carpenter – another former boyfriend. However Madge soon realised what we all knew – that no one could ever measure up to her beloved Harold. So she ended her relationship with Lou and left Ramsay Street to live with Scott and Charlene in Brisbane.

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During the years that Madge and Harold were away from Ramsay Street, I thought of a little scenario where Harold hadn’t drowned but was out there somewhere suffering from amnesia. It seemed that the show’s writers had the same idea too because years later Harold turned up in Ramsay Street as a Salvation Army officer and was spotted by Helen Daniels, who informed Madge that her husband was back in Erinsborough. Madge came to see for herself and wasted no time in helping Harold to remember his past and their life together. She succeeded and Neighbours’ fans cheered when Madge and Harold wed for a second time.

Sadly their second chance at happiness was short-lived as Madge passed away after losing her fight with cancer, leaving Harold beyond devastated. Harold left Ramsay Street after marrying lawyer Carolyn Johnstone years later, and the two set off to begin their life together.

But for the viewers, it will always be Madge and Harold.

5. HENRY RAMSAY AND BRONWYN DAVIES

Joker Henry Ramsay (Craig McLachlan) fell in love with Bronwyn Davies (Rachel Friend) as soon as he laid eyes on her. But the pretty blonde couldn’t take Henry seriously, and started going out with Henry’s friend and neighbour Mike Young instead. However Bronwyn’s relationship with Mike didn’t last and she soon realised that Henry was the man for her – much to his delight. Henry had gone out with Melanie Pearson in the past, and had suffered the experience of unrequited love with Des Clarke’s sister Sally. But it looked as though he might have found the right woman in caring, strong willed, country girl Bronwyn.

But surprise, surprise – as with all Ramsay Street couples, Henry and Bronwyn encountered problems which saw them split on a couple of occasions, but the bond between them was too strong and they would always find their way back to each other. Their biggest test came just before their wedding, when Bronwyn’s father, not convinced that Henry was the right man for his daughter, persuaded Bronwyn to postpone the wedding. And she did just that – on the morning of the day that she was supposed to marry Henry alongside their friends Joe and Kerry in a double wedding ceremony. Both Henry and Bronwyn were heartbroken and even though this incident could have split them up again – it didn’t. And both of them were determined that next time, they’d make it to the alter without any hitches.

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The next test came when Henry landed a radio job in New Zealand, and had to leave without Bronwyn who was unable to get a job transfer. Having to endure a long-distance relationship, Bronwyn felt lonely and miserable without Henry. But luckily for her, the opportunity to work at a veterinary surgery in New Zealand came up. So Bronnie bid farewell to everyone in Ramsay Street and was once again reunited with her beloved Henry. The two married off screen and are still believed to be happily married – with a family – in New Zealand.

The on-screen chemistry between Henry and Bronwyn spilled over into real-life as the actors who played them, Craig McLachlan and Rachel Friend, started dating and eventually married much to the delight of the show’s fans – although they sadly divorced a few years later.

6. JOE MANGEL AND KERRY BISHOP

Stereotypical Aussie bloke Joe Mangel (Mark Little) and free-spirited hippy Kerry Bishop (Linda Hartley)seemed like a very unlikely pairing – and to be honest, I didn’t like Kerry’s character when she first graced our screens. But the two were drawn together by the fact that they both had children – and they soon found that opposites did in fact attract.

Over a period of time, Kerry’s hard-edged, stubborn streak subsided and viewers found her to be a very loving and caring woman who still had her own unique way of doing things. This softer side came about as the result of her relationship with Joe, proving that the two really were a good match.

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But of course there were issues that had to be resolved especially as the two had very different ways of living and doing things but they managed to make compromises. The biggest hurdle they faced occurred when Kerry found herself attracted to Clive Gibbons, who had recently returned to Ramsay Street, just before her wedding to Joe. Thankfully Kerry soon saw sense and realised that Joe was the man for her. Joe and Kerry were planning to marry at around the same time as their friends Des and Jane, and Henry and Bronwyn – but Joe and Kerry were the only ones who made it to the alter that time.

Further problems arose after their marriage with Joe’s ex-wife getting custody of their son Toby, and the father of Kerry’s toddler daughter Skye returning: two things which threatened the tranquillity of their perfectly blended family. However, Joe and Kerry got through these episodes – including comforting a very traumatized Toby after his mum died – and were delighted to discover that Kerry was pregnant with their first child. The stage was set for a happy ending.

But in true soap style, tragedy was just around the corner, when a pregnant Kerry was shot and killed while out on a protest against duck hunters. Joe was distraught and didn’t know how he was going to go on without his beloved Kerry.

Joe left Ramsay Street about a year later, and before he did so, he married whacky Melanie Pearson. Melanie had always irritated me and I never warmed to her the way I did to Kerry, and I didn’t think that Joe and Melanie made such a great couple. And it was on Skye’s return to Erinsborough when she was a teenager that viewers learned that Joe and Melanie had split up just a few years into their marriage.

6. PAUL AND GAIL ROBINSON

Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) is undoubtedly the Ian Beale of Ramsay Street. How did such an unpleasant man end up with so many wives and girlfriends? And this is clearly a man who likes wedding cake because despite so many failed marriages, he still insists on proposing!

However, I think it’s his second wife Gail (Fiona Corke) who was Paul’s perfect woman – and quite possibly the only woman that Paul ever loved. It’s ironic that their marriage was only ever supposed to be a business arrangement but the truth was that they both loved each other but were too afraid to admit it. It took Gail leaving to live in New York for Paul to come clean about his feelings for her – and their passionate embrace was witnessed by a delighted Scott and Charlene.

It still wasn’t all plain sailing though. Gail desperately wanted to start a family but had problems conceiving. It was while she was undergoing fertility treatment that she and Paul learned that he had a child with an ex-partner; a revelation that devastated Gail. So fans were thrilled when Gail not only managed to get pregnant, but got pregnant with triplets. It seemed to be a new beginning for Paul and Gail.

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And new beginning it was – just not in the way that fans had hoped. Fed up with Paul’s workaholic ways and feeling anger towards him for the accident that killed her father Rob, Gail had had enough of Paul’s lack of support and left him while she was heavily pregnant to start a new life in Tasmania. Paul was heartbroken and wanted to be there for Gail and the babies – but she was having none of it. When Paul realised that Gail wanted nothing more to do with him, he was forced to move on. And move on he did – to wife number three Christina, and after Paul and Gail, I really didn’t like this pairing; they lacked the fire that Paul and Gail had had.

It was incredibly disappointing when Paul and Gail split up especially after everything they’d been through. I really liked Gail and thought that she was a very strong, intelligent person who was one of the few people who could put Paul in his place and wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense from him. I also think that she brought out the best in him. Would Paul have turned into Mr. Nasty if he’d still been married to Gail? Hard to say but I’d like to think he wouldn’t have. The characters definitely had a special bond but so too did the actors who played them, with Stefan Dennis, quoted as saying that he’d love for Fiona Corke who played Gail to return. She appeared for two guest appearances but we’d love to see her return full time.

7. NICK PAIGE AND SHARON DAVIES

So this is a couple from the early days who I’m sure many of you will have forgotten, especially as they weren’t together for very long. But I thought Bronwyn’s little sister Sharon (Jessica Muschamp) and artist Nick Page (Mark Stevens) were an interesting couple. Both were very headstrong and rebellious. They didn’t like to follow rules but they were both often misunderstood by those around them.

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They faced opposition from Sharon’s strict aunt Edie, and then there was Sharon’s dalliance with local bad boy Skinner, which caused her and Nick to briefly split. Despite getting back together again, Sharon and Nick eventually split up for good although they remained best friends. Nick then went on to start dating Lucy Robinson but they didn’t have the same passion between them that Sharon and Nick had shared.

The two soon left Erinsborough for pastures new: Nick went to art college in London, and Sharon went to live with Henry and Bronwyn in New Zealand. But it would be great if writers brought back and older, wiser and more experienced Sharon and Nick to Ramsay Street…

8. TODD LANDERS AND CODY WILLIS

Todd (Kristian Schmidt) went out with Melissa Jarrett. Her best friend Cody Willis (Amelia Frid) went out with Todd’s best friend Josh. But it was no secret that Cody had always had an eye for Todd. Melissa and Josh started spending time together just as Todd realised that Cody was the girl for him. It could all have gotten messy but the foursome came up with the ideal solution: they just swapped partners – and it all worked out well with the four still remaining best friends!

Despite being so young, Cody and Todd were very much in love and I loved watching them on screen – although admittedly, I’d cringe when I’d watch them make out in front of ‘the olds’ just to get their backs up! They went through a lot together and faced a lot of opposition from their families, mainly because they were so young and also because Cody’s mother Pam was so overprotective of her youngest daughter.

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Just when it looked as though they were on their way to becoming the next Scott and Charlene, Cody was put forward for a two year scholarship to study in the United States. She and Todd came to the mutual decision that they had no choice but to break up, and promptly started seeing other people. But as Cody’s departure date drew close, they realised that they still loved each other and decided to give the whole long-distance thing a go. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as Cody soon fell for someone else in America and ditched Todd. A heartbroken Todd soon picked up the pieces and found love with Phoebe, who was expecting his child when Todd was tragically involved in a road accident and killed.

Cody returned from America and had a few serious relationships before she too met her maker. Too bad Cody and Todd couldn’t have had a happier ending.

9. JOSH ANDERSON AND MELISSA JARRETT

Melissa (Jade Amenta) seemed smitten with her boyfriend Todd, so it seemed unlikely that she’d end up falling for anyone else, and she was bound to take the news that Todd had fallen for her best friend Cody really badly, wasn’t she? Well you’d think so, but this is soap land where anything is possible. So while Todd and Cody were hooking up, Melissa was also falling in love… with Todd’s best friend Josh (Jeremy Angerson).

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And it seemed that the swap was a great idea as Melissa and Josh made as good a couple as Todd and Cody. When Melissa developed an interest in animal rights, Josh was there to assist her in many of her escapades. Sadly, their relationship had barely gotten off the ground when Melissa’s father was being transferred to the States resulting in the whole family moving out there. So after a final farewell to Josh, Melissa left Ramsay Street for a new life in America.

10. ADAM WILLIS AND CAROLINE ALESSI

Med student Adam (Ian Williams) was besotted with Caroline (Gillian Blakeney) who was already in a relationship with older man Jim Robinson. Caroline seemed a little too straight-laced and serious for the whacky soon-to-be doc who was fond of practical jokes but when her relationship with Jim ended she agreed to go out with Adam. And somehow they worked! Who could forget their first date where Adam’s car broke down and they ended up ordering take away pizza and dancing in the street while the breakdown service worked on Adam’s car?

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Unfortunately their romance suffered setbacks. Their differences in income and lifestyle proved to be too much for Adam and they split up. During this time, Adam started seeing Gemma Ramsay and they got quite serious – until he realised that he still had feelings for Caroline. So he gave his relationship with Caroline another go but it didn’t work as Adam finally decided that Gemma was the girl for him after all and ended it with Caroline for good although the two remained friends.

Even after Adam got with Gemma a second time, I was convinced that he’d end up back with Caroline, especially when Caroline stepped in to help the Willis family after Adam’s younger brother Brad found himself in trouble while travelling abroad. But it wasn’t to be and Adam soon left Erinsborough for Newcastle where he was reunited with Gemma and the two later got engaged.

Incidentally, I thought Gemma and her former boyfriend Matt were a great match. But hey, what do I know!

11. DOUG AND PAM WILLIS

This was a couple who seemed truly, madly, deeply in love. Pam (Sue Jones) and Doug (Terence Donovan) had been married for more than twenty years and had four children together. This was a couple who seemed to have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. Not only that but Pam seemed able to tolerate Doug’s non-stop flirting with other women, knowing that Doug didn’t mean anything by it and that he really loved her. And it was this strong bond that saw them through crises such as financial difficulties, their younger son being falsely imprisoned, and Cody being shot and killed.

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However, everything went downhill when Doug wrongly suspected Pam of having an affair with their neighbour Jim Robinson. This in turn led Doug to have a fling with the unstable Jill Weir who had developed an obsession with Doug. When Pam found out she did indeed turn to Jim for comfort but it didn’t go further than a kiss. Pam started divorce proceedings but stopped them when Doug went missing at sea and realised that she still loved him, and the two of them managed to patch things up before eventually leaving for a new life in Darwin, although they both popped up in Ramsay Street from time to time.

I really thought that Pam and Doug were a great couple, and something of a rarity because they were still besotted with each even after being married for so long. I was very disappointed when Jill Weir finally sunk her claws into Doug – who ought to have known better – especially as I felt that despite his flirtatious nature, he’d never cheat on Pam. It’s great that the Willis’ still visit Ramsay Street because even though they had been on the street for a relatively short time, they made such a big impact that I don’t feel that Neighbours was ever the same after they left.

12. RINGO BROWN AND DONNA FREEDMAN

Ringo (Sam Clark and Donna (Margot Robbie) are the most recent of all the really cool Neighbours couples and they’re most definitely not a couple from twenty years ago! But of all the most recent couples, I thought Donna and Ringo were awesome. That’s quite ironic considering I thought Donna was the most irritating character since Melanie Pearson to set foot in Ramsay Street, and also since Donna was initially meant to be a short-term character although due to Donna’s popularity, she became a regular on the Street.

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Donna and Ringo really were the cutest couple. They were madly in love and Donna’s kooky ways somehow complemented Ringo’s more sensible nature. In a nutshell, they reminded me of Hubby and me! I understand that killing Ringo off was great for ratings and for dramatic effect but seeing as Donna left a short time later, I think it would have been more fitting if they’d got their happy ending and sailed off into the sunset together – to America as they had planned to do.

So there you have it – my list of the greatest Neighbours couples of all time. All thanks to Guy Pearce and Annie Jones!

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in TV Shows

 

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OMG! 20 Years Of Friends

Genre: Sitcom
Started: 22nd September 1994
Ended: 6th May 2004
Created by: David Crane and Marta Kauffman
Series: 10
Episodes: 236
Main Cast: David Schwimmer – Ross Geller
Courtney Cox – Monica Geller
Matt LeBlanc – Joey Tribbiani
Jennifer Aniston – Rachel Green
Matthew Perry – Chandler Bing
Lisa Kudrow – Phoebe Buffay

Guest Stars: Elliot Gould – Jack Geller
Christina Pickles – Judy Geller
James Michael Tyler – Gunther
Maggie Wheeler – Janice Litman
Helen Baxendale – Emily Waltham
Tom Selleck – Richard Burke
Paul Rudd – Mike Hannigan
Jane Sibbett – Carol
Jessica Hecht – Susan

Plot: A group of six from New York who are very different in terms of personality but are firm friends nonetheless. They live in the same neighbourhood and are known for always hanging out at the same coffee shop, Central Perk. When they are not there they can usually be found at Monica’s apartment. The show focuses on the group’s strong friendship, as well as their romantic and career escapades with hilarious results.

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So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

I really, really cannot believe that this year marks twenty years since the first episode of Friends was aired. That’s right, the hit American sit-com about the lives of a close-knit gang of six New Yorkers first hit American screens in September 1994. That’s right – twenty years!!!! My goodness where has the time gone? Since then we’ve been glued to the antics of Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and co. And incidentally it’s been over ten years since the last episode aired in May 1994.

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I can’t put into words how special Friends is to me. Some might even think that’s weird. I mean it’s a television sit-com. Who gets sentimental over a television sit-com? Well, I do! Friends brings back great memories of school days, teenage years, and family moments. Plus it’s as funny as hell! What’s there not to like?

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I first started watching Friends when I was in my mid -teens. Thursday night was treat night, so after a hard night hitting the books, I’d grab a ready meal and settle down in front of the telly to watch my fave show… Channel 4’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?  But before Whose Line began, I’d manage to catch the last few minutes of a new American comedy. It wasn’t long before I started taking my study breaks a little earlier on a Thursday night so I could watch this new American comedy from the beginning of each episode. It was really funny and thoroughly enjoyable… but even then I didn’t realise just how huge it was going to become.

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It wasn’t long before the rest of my family got in on the act. By then Friends had gone from the near-enough graveyard slot to become prime time viewing on a Friday evening. So Friday evenings were spent with us gathered around the telly after dinner, laughing our heads off. Apart from me, my little brother was the biggest Friends fan in our house. We never missed an episode, and it in fact became known as ‘our tradition.’ And every Christmas, my brother would get a new Friends video (yes, it was videos back then) which he would practically watch on repeat. It wasn’t long before we knew practically every line of the script – and used to quote the characters to the point where it both amused and annoyed our sisters.

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Over the last twenty years, we’ve all lost count of how many times Friends has been repeated on the telly. But the thing is that it never gets old. Every time you tune in to each episode, you laugh like you’ve never heard the gags before – and I guess that’s the beauty of the show. In all these years, I’ve only met three people who have said that they can’t stand Friends. That’s just left me wondering what’s wrong with them!

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So in honour of Friends’ twentieth year, we’re taking a look at twenty things closely associated with the show that have made Friends so unique; this includes our favourite memories and things about the show that – without wanting to be dramatic – actually changed our lives.

1. COFFEE SHOP CULTURE

Today, teenagers hang out in coffee shops up and down the country. And right here in England they have plenty to choose from: Starbucks, Café Nero, Costa, as well as millions of independent coffee shops. Yep, word has gotten out that coffee is big business!

When I was a teenager, we hung out at either McDonalds or the local chippy. If we really wanted to push the boat out, then we had Pizza Hut. But Friends changed all that once we saw how much fun the Friends gang were having at Central Perk. We decided that coffee shops were the only place to lounge around in too. And it seems that we’re not the only ones who thought it was a great idea, as coffee shop culture has now taken off all over the world.

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2. SOFAS IN COFFEE SHOPS

The sofa at Central Perk was very much the gang’s domain. Remember the gang’s dismay when another group took over the sofa?

I’d never seen a sofa in a coffee shop until I started watching Friends. We certainly didn’t have them here in UK coffee shops. But I thought it was a super cool idea. There’s nothing like getting comfy on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee whilst having a natter to make yourself feel really at home. Now you can find a comfy, cosy sofa in just about every coffee shop – and I’m willing to bet that that’s mostly thanks to Friends.

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3. JENNIFER ANISTON: HAIR ICON

When Jennifer Aniston accepted the role of Rachel Green, I bet she didn’t think that her hair would become just a tad bit more famous than her. The ‘Rachel’ cut was the Farrah Flick of it’s day, and the most requested hairstyle in salons worldwide.

I sported a similar do for a while but it was probably not as fab as Jennifer’s. Her hairdo was a layered, longer length bob but it was the savvy way she wore it that made it such a hit. This particular style paved the way for Ms. Aniston to enter into hair icon territory, because even though the numerous great hairstyles she sported throughout the series never quite eclipsed the success of the ‘Rachel,’ Jennifer inevitably became known as ‘the one with the great hair.’

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4. SMELLY CAT

Phoebe may have known how to rock a guitar but when it came to songwriting, she was known for some rather dubious lyrics. But despite this fact, Smelly Cat became something of a classic – and proof to aspiring musicians everywhere that inspiration for a hit can come from the most unlikeliest of topics!

5. MONICA’S APARTMENT

Who wouldn’t want a spacious yet cosy apartment as inviting as Monica’s. There was criticism that a waitress (Rachel) and a just-starting- caterer (Monica) could never have afforded an apartment in NYC as cool as that in real-life but who cares? It was nice just to dream about it! And even though Monica and hubby Chandler eventually bought a house in the suburbs to raise their family, I think it’s definitely Monica’s apartment that’s the place to be.

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6. RACHEL’S AMBITION

Rachel Green may have started out as something of a rich, spoilt brat but she eventually learned to stand on her own two feet when Gunther hired her as a waitress at Central Perk. However Rachel’s real dream was to work in fashion – a career she’d pursued once she’d found the confidence to do so.

This resonates well with me because I’ve been there too (no, not the rich, spoilt brat bit!). We’ve all had to abandon our dreams at some point in our lives because real life got in the way. But Rachel showed us that with a little perseverance and dedication, it’s possible to get there in the end.

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7. WE WERE ON A BREAK!

Rachel wanted a break from her relationship with Ross. Ross thought that meant he could date other people – so he did. This didn’t go down too well with Rachel when she found out, so she decided that their temporary break should become a more permanent one.

This Ross and Rachel saga struck fear into the hearts of most people who were going through a rough patch in their relationships causing them to spell out exactly what ‘being on a break’ meant!

8. NEW YORK BECAME THE PLACE TO BE

OK, so even before Friends, New York was hardly on the bottom of everyone’s ‘must visit’ list. In fact for many people it was at the top of their ‘must live there’ list! But Friends – along with Sex And The City – was a great advert for New York City and made those who didn’t live there want to take an even bigger bite out of the Big Apple (even though the show was filmed in California!)

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9. ROSS: THE PATRON SAINT OF GEEKS

Straight-laced, socially-awkward brainiac Ross Gellar who revelled in his staus as ‘Dr.Gellar,’ was overly-enthusiastic about science and loved his career as a palaeontologist, was the saviour of academics, and dare I say it, geeks everywhere! He proved that you didn’t have to be the coolest kid on the block to land the hottest girl.

10. THOSE CATCHPHRASES

Oh…My…God! How you doin’? Could you be any more stupid? We were on a break!

If you’re a Friends fan, those catchphrases will need no explanation!

11. THE ONE WITH THE…

Friends writers knew that even if they gave episodes an actual name, that viewers would refer to these episodes as ‘The one with the eggplant,’ or ‘The one where Rachel finds out.’ So that’s exactly what they called these episodes with the title beginning with the words ‘The One…’. No other TV show has done this and I think it’s quite clever really!

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12. EVERYONE HAD A FRIEND WITH THE WORD ‘FUN’ IN THEIR NAME

Remember Monica’s ex-boyfriend, Fun Bobby? He was the life and soul of the party… until everyone discovered that without alcohol, he really wasn’t that much fun!

Nonetheless some of us took to prefixing the name of our loudest and wildest friend with the word ‘Fun’ so that it became a part of their name. I know I did and I have to say that hanging out with Fun Lucy was always a barrel of laughs!

13. IT’S OK TO GET WITH YOUR FRIENDS

So serial divorcé Ross got with Rachel, while his sister Monica cured his commitment phobic friend Chandler. Both couples highlighted the pitfalls of dating a good friend – but in the end, it all worked out for the best. And Friends’ fans cheered when these couples got together – and probably plucked up the courage to ask their best friend of ten years who they’d secretly admired from afar out for a drink.

We all waited for Phoebe and Joey to hook up but the scriptwriters had other ideas. Perhaps they didn’t want to be too predictable. Perhaps they thought Mike Hannigan was better for Phoebe. Perhaps they wanted to give Joey his own show…

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14. SIMILAR SHOWS

To say Friends was huge is like saying that water is a little bit wet. It was a phenomenon – and still is! It wasn’t long before other program makers the world over got in on the act and tried to recreate the show’s winning formula: a group of close friends who are almost like family in an apartment/coffee shop/bar setting, who support each other through trials and tribulations especially romantic disasters. Unlike soap operas were friends could stab each other in the back, in these types of shows, friends had each other’s back.

Some of these shows popped up even before Friends had finished its run, and not all of them were sitcoms, but the ones that were injected the same kind of wit and humour that made Friends so popular. So before we knew it, we were settling down to watch Cold Feet, Coupling, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Sex And The City, and That 70s Show.

But of course, as awesome as these shows are, and I do enjoy watching them too, there can only ever be one Friends.

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15. THE CAST BECAME MEGA STARS

The cast of Friends were all established actors before they played our favourite group of New Yorkers. But they hadn’t reached the dizzying heights of stardom with any of their previous work (although I remember Matt LeBlanc’s Heinz ketchup commercial very well!) But Friends changed all that for the six actors who went on to become household names. And ten years after the show ended, they’re still very much in the spotlight.

I also think that it’s fantastic that all six actors wanted to remain in the show through the course of its ten year run. Nobody chose to quit the series to concentrate on other projects which meant that all six of our favourite characters appeared in every series and were played by the same actors during the course of ten years which I think is amazing and quite unusual.

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16. IT BROUGHT THE WORLD CLOSER TOGETHER

I’m wondering if there’s a country in the world which hasn’t broadcast a single episode of Friends… no, I didn’t think so! Maggie Wheeler who played Chandler’s ex-girlfriend, Janice, expressed her surprise when a fan from India approached her to say how much she loved Friends, proving just how much of a world-wide phenomenon the show had become. Despite the hit comedy being dubbed in multiple languages, everyone understand the language of friendship, and it’s great to know that you can go anywhere in the world and you’re bound to bump into someone who knows who the Friends gang are.

I wonder how you translate, “How you doin’?” in Cantonese…

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17. TACKLING SOCIAL ISSUES WITH HUMOUR

Looking back, it amazes me that my brother was allowed to watch Friends at such a young age because as funny as it is, it did deal with some pretty adult themes: divorce; infertility; surrogacy; adoption; single motherhood; casual sex; alcoholism… not exactly a barrel of laughs. But despite the heavy content, each issue was handled with humour and sensitivity so you didn’t feel as though you were watching the most depressing show on earth.

Eastenders, take note!

Ross with his son Ben - who lives with his two mums

Ross with his son Ben – who lives with his two mums

 

18. WE WANTED OUR OWN FRIENDS GANG

I had a friend at university who explained that his posse were “just like Friends from off the telly.”

“There’s six of us as well. And we all hang out at a coffee shop too. And each one of us are just like one of the characters.”

Well he ‘s not the only one who thought that way. The truth is we all wanted our own little Friends gang, and we could relate to at least one of the characters. Me? I’m a strange mix of Phoebe and Rachel!

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19. THEME TUNE

There can’t be a single person on the planet who doesn’t know the words to that famous theme tune or who wouldn’t be able to recognise the melody. Performed by The Rembrandts, it is without a doubt their biggest hit and the one they’ll always be remembered for.

The lyrics fit the concept of the show perfectly and furthermore illustrates the meaning of friendship.

20. FRAMILY

Most of us were brought up on the mantra that family comes first – and for the most part that’s how it should be. But the show taught us that it was possible to love your friends like family. It’s not always about blood, genetics or DNA – it’s about the strong bond of genuine love, respect and friendship. Even the friends cast have said that they’ve become like family which is most inspiring.

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So there you have it – all the things that makes Friends so fantasically unique and one of a kind. I’m so glad that Friends is as relevant today as it was when it began twenty years ago. Whereas a lot of once popular comedies now appear dated, I really do believe that Friends will remain a classic.

Here’s to the next twenty years.

 

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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Comedy Shows, TV Shows

 

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