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Happy New Kids On The Block Day

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It’s that time of year again. The one where I get to dress up and go back to being a thirteen year old again.

No Halloween has not come early. I’m talking about New Kids On The Block Day, and as I’m a die hard fan, I absolutely love this day which remembers all that is fabulous about the most awesome boy band ever to walk this earth: Jordan, Jon, Joe, Danny and Donnie.

New Kids On The Block

New Kids On The Block

 

So come on Blockheads: don those ripped jeans, flash those smiley faces and peace sign medallions, wear your New Kids T-shirts with pride, and crank up the volume so that the whole neighbourhood hears those NKOTB tunes. Watch those videos to your hearts content, and prepare to fall in love with the Boston boy band all over again. It’s what today is all about.

Back in 1989, then Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis, declared 24 April to be National New Kids On The Block Day (for that alone, Mr. Dukakis should have been president!) National it may have been, but it didn’t stop fans from all over the world from honouring them. And twenty six years later it’s still a pretty big day in the Blockheads’ calendar.

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I’ve already driven the Hubby mad by singing New Kids On The Block Songs on the tube on the way to work. He should just be thankful that it was a packed carriage or I would have had to get on the floor and do the New Kids dance!

I’ve been in love with the five bad brothers from the bean town land from the moment I clapped eyes on them, and whereas most people go through phases of liking bands before moving on to the next big thing, it’s always been the New Kids for me and I’m so proud to say that they were my boy band when I was growing up.

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So as it’s National New Kids On The Block Day, I’m going to share the New Kids moments, experiences, memories and events that are special to me personally.

1.  BEFORE I’D EVEN SEEN THEM

“Do you lot like that new group, what are they called again? New Kids In The Neighbourhood?

“Oh you mean New Kids On The Block!”

“Oh my gosh, I really like them.”

“I really like them too!”

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That was a conversation that took place in my Year 7 class just as the New Kids were really starting to take off here in Britain. I can still  vividly remember this scene as we waited for our form tutor to arrive. At this point I’d definitely heard of New Kids On The Block but I hadn’t seen them and I didn’t really know anything about them. I wasn’t even a hundred per cent sure I’d heard anything by them. But I remember for the upcoming Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards many of the pop stars du jour were casting their vote for a little known band called the New Kids for Best Newcomer and various other awards so I knew there was something special about this band.

Little did I know just how special.

2. NUMBER ONE ON TOP OF THE POPS

It was Thursday night which meant that it was Top Of The Pops night, so us kids and Dad – who always likes to think he’s down with the kids – were huddled around the TV waiting to check out that week’s chart climbers and sliders and more importantly, who’d hit the top spot.

When the new number one was announced, I was thrilled to hear that it was that cool new group that everyone was talking about,New Kids On The Block with You Got It (The Right Stuff.) That was great because I’d finally get to see what they looked like – and what was so great about them. Little did I know that my little pre-pubescent self was NEVER going to be the same again.

The New Kids didn’t make a live appearance so the video was played instead, and when I tell you that it was love at first sight, I am not kidding. I’d had lots of crushes up until that point (yep, always had an eye for the boys!) but this was indescribable. I’d never seen a whole bunch of really great looking boys before. They sang and danced amazingly. I loved their style and they just had this thing… this thing that I couldn’t and still can’t quite put my finger on. And when a band or artist has this special quality, you just know they’re going to be huge. So it was no surprise when the New Kids blew up big time.

My sister and I had found our new crushes – as did most of the female population under the age of twenty five. I still didn’t know their names but the one who made the biggest impression on me was the extremely handsome, dark-haired boy who appeared to be the lead singer…

3. SMASH HITS COVER

Shortly after seeing them on TOTP for the first time, New Kids On The Block graced their first ever cover of Smash Hits magazine. And they were every bit as gorgeous as I’d remembered. I learned that their names were Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg, and Jordan Knight was Jon’s brother and the hottie who’d caught my eye. I’d never heard of anyone called Jordan before (we weren’t that exotic growing up in North-West London!) but it soon became one of my favourite boy’s names and remains so to this day – although Hubby is adamant that if ever we have a son, he is NEVER going to be called Jordan!

Thanks to that issue of Smash Hits, we also got to learn all sorts of other extremely useful snippets of info about them which came in very handy for discussions with our classmates. It was long before I was buying every magazine that they featured in.

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I bitterly regret not hanging on to that issue of Smash Hits.

4. WINNING SMASH HITS AWARDS

The year was 1990, the year my baby brother was born and the year New Kids On The Block scooped almost everything at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards. I’ve always loved watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party on BBC One, and then reading about it in the following issue of the magazine.

That year the New Kids appeared at the party via satellite link (that’s kind of when you know someone’s really famous!) but for the screaming girls present and those watching at home, those boys from Boston were definitely the highlight – as was seeing their excitement every time they got an award. But oh my goodness that was nothing compared to the hysterics when Jordan Knight found out that he’d won the award for most fanciable male. I loved when he looked in to the camera and said, “It’s me, boys” and then went on to thank all us “fine, English girls” for the award. Ooh, I’ve come over all funny!

Jordan Knight winning the award for most fanciable male was hardly a surprise but as all the New Kids are hot, it’s a pity they weren’t all joint first.

5. NEW YORK GIG

OK so I never got to go to the New York concert as part of the Hanging Tough Tour but I did get to see it and I loved it! I enjoyed every second of the show and so it seemed, did the New Kids, who looked as though they were having an awesome time. The bond between the boys has always been obvious but it was even more evident here. There have been many renditions of I’ll Be There but I definitely think there’s is the best by a long shot. I loved watching Jordan pulling faces into the camera and showing off his breaking dancing skills, Wild man Donnie serenading a little girl, and the boys really working that crowd.

Awesome gig!

6. PROVIDENCE GIG

I’d never even heard about Providence, RI before (sorry to all the residents there!) But now when I hear it mentioned, I immediately think of the gig the New Kids did there back in 1991 as part of the Magic Summer Tour. A friend recorded it for me and I’d never get fed up of watching it. In fact I spent more time watching it then I did studying for end of year exams. But it was worth it seeing Jordan perform Baby, I Believe In You.

I wish I had been there.

7.THE COMEBACK PT.1

I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled when the New Kids announced that they were reuniting but I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long to happen. There were apparent recording hitches and all kinds of other calamities that they had to contend with. And their eagerly-awaited appearance at the 1993 Smash Hits Poll Winners Party mysteriously never happened (Donnie later said that it was because the band were asked to change some of the lyrics to their very risqué hit, Dirty Dawg, which they refused to do.)

They did a feature in Smash Hits and it was awesome to hear what they’d been up to during their two year break. And I loved their lively banter with Clive Warren on capital Radio, as they promoted their new album Face The Music. It appeared that the boys were back, and us Blockheads – the real ones who never went away – were doing cartwheels.

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But this is where the memories aren’t so good. Even though I loved Face The Music, and I think it was lyrically and vocally one of the strongest out of all their early offerings, the critics and haters had it in for the New Kids. They slammed the boys’ harder, edgier street image and sound, and claimed that the lyrics in Dirty Dawg degraded women. Dirty Dawg only got as far as number twenty seven in the UK charts and the following single Never Gonna Let You Go barely made it into the Top Forty. Then Jon quit the group the New Kids soon disbanded. What I call the ‘wilderness years’ soon followed.

It is such a great pity that the boys weren’t as successful as they could have been because everything was put in place for an awesome comeback but there was so much stacked against them. But we can be thankful that they gave us another fantastic album.

8. THE COMEBACK PT.2

When it came to chart music and boy bands, no one could ever match up to New Kids On The Block. From being everywhere they were suddenly nowhere – and us fans missed them like crazy. I would get so excited if I so much as saw them mentioned in an article or if one of them made a fleeting appearance on a TV show.

And my biggest regret?

My biggest regret was that I got to see them perform live. That’s right – I might have been a fan for most of my life but I never got to go to a concert for many reasons and that did make me sad.

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I used to wish that they’d get back together if only for a little while so that I’d be able to fulfil my wish of being a hysterical Blockhead at one of their gigs. But I knew that it was unlikely to ever happen. The band had always seemed reluctant to get back together with many of them clearly stating that they’d moved on to other things.

So I was stunned, totally stunned when the New Kids reunited back in 2008. I was thrilled but apprehensive. What if this comeback was like the first one?

Luckily for us, it so wasn’t.

The group are still going strong today.

9. MY FIRST CONCERT

As soon as the UK tour was announced, I got tickets to the gig in Wembley. There are no words to describe how excited I was. For the New Kids to have gotten back together was beyond my wildest dreams. But to actually be going to their concert was a case of if-this-is-a-dream-please-don’t-wake-me. I was so happy that my dream was coming true.

But then tragedy struck when I lost my beloved grandfather just three weeks before the concert. In my grief the last thing I wanted to do was have a blast. I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a corner and stay there for a year. But my family had other ideas and persuaded me that it was what I needed.

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They were absolutely right. So a slightly subdued me went to Wembley with a very dear friend and we had an amazing time. We laughed, we sang, we danced, I may have shed a tear or two. It’ll always be very memorable for me. I loved the intro when the boys walked out on stage, and during If You Go Away, they displayed an emotional montage as a tribute to the loved ones they lost, which obviously struck a chord with me.

It was an extremely bittersweet experience and one that I’ll always be thankful to the New Kids for. I feel that they played a part in getting me through one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced, and I fulfilled my wish.

They were definitely worth the wait.

 

10. STAR ON HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME

When New Kids On The Block got their star on Hollywood Walk Of Fame it was as though they’d come full circle and there wasn’t a prouder bunch than us Blockheads. All I could think was “It’s about time!” New Kids have their place among the stars where they belong.

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Happy New Kids Day!

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Legendary Soap Couples

The sad passing of Anne Kirkbride means that we will never see Ken and Deirdre Barlow grace our screens when we settle in front of the box to watch Coronation Street. Ever since their wedding in 1980, they have kept us entertained with on-screen antics. Affairs, break-ups, divorce, remarriage, endless rows, passionate reunions, long-lost children, Deirdre’s scrapes with the law, Tracey’s shenanigans… this couple have been through it all. And through it all, there wasn’t a couple we wanted to see together more than Ken and Deirdre. We may sadly never see them again but they’ve gone down in television history as a legendary soap couple.

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I got thinking about other soap couples, those who were a perfect match in every way. Though perfect match or not, they didn’t always get their happy ending but then that’s the way it often is in soap land. So I’ve come up with my list of ten soap couples who I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching; who captured the nation’s hearts, and who most definitely belonged together.

1. SCOTT AND CHARLENE ROBINSON

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They may be the youngest couple on this list but they’re right up there when it comes to soap legends. Scott and Charlene were just one of the reasons why Neighbours back in the 1980s was so popular. Who could forget that phenomenal wedding that’s still being talked about more than twenty five years later? They may have been on-off-on again-off again even after they were married but there’s no denying that Scott and Charlene belonged together. It was a sad day in Erinsborough and for Neighbours fans when Scott and Charlene left for a new life in Brisbane. And even though many couples may have met and fell in love on Ramsay Street, there was never anyone quite like Scott and Charlene.

2. DEN AND ANGIE WATTS

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The Cockney version of JR and Sue Ellen Ewing may have been a relatively short-lived couple and not together as long as Ken and Deirdre but Den and Angie are legends with a capital L. When people talk about the good ol’ days of Eastenders, they usually mean the Den and Angie years.

True, Angie loved Den more than he loved her. And it was Den who turned her to drink with his dodgy deals and numerous affairs. Goodness knows what Angie would have done if she’d found out about Den’s love children. Despite all the ups and downs (mostly downs) there was never a dull moment with Den and Angie. We all hoped for a happy ending for our fave soap couple – and there were times when we thought it might be a possibility – but it wasn’t to be. Angie ran off to start a new life with her new fella while Den was presumed dead for years before popping up in Albert Square again.

3. TOM AND PIPPA FLETCHER

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When Home And Away first aired, it was all about the Fletcher family: Tom, his wife Pippa and their foster children. Despite issues with the children, they were a very tight family unit with Tom and Pippa having a strong marriage that seemed able to withstand anything life through at them. They initially thought they couldn’t have children of their own (until baby Christopher came along) and they were often worn down by their foster children’s dramas but they often came across as quite young at heart, totally devoted to each other, and quite sweet as a couple.

It was terribly sad when Tom was killed in an accident, and I remember Pippa’s shock and denial which eventually gave way to grief. They may not have been together for a long time, but they’re still a very memorable couple.

4. STAN AND HILDA OGDEN

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Stan and Hilda were the Ken and Deirdre of Coronation Street long before the latter achieved legendary status. This classic Corrie couple had been in the soap since the 1960s but my earliest memories of them are from the 1980s which must have been just before Stan died. I still remember when Stan gave Hilda a box for her birthday and when she opened it, there was nothing in it. Stan explained that it was for Hilda to put her jewellery in – which she accepted. I thought it was a great idea at the time but I was too young to know any better. Now I just think it’s hilarious – not to mention a bit cheeky!

Stan and Hilda may have been off our screens as a couple for more than three decades but when I think Coronation Street, I still think of Stan and Hilda Ogden.

5. MADGE AND HAROLD BISHOP

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The king and queen of Ramsay Street! Who couldn’t love the Bishops? Former childhood sweethearts Madge and Harold reunited after many years apart, and despite them being polar opposites, there was no doubting that Madge without Harold was like tea without biscuits. Yes Harold annoyed Madge with his fuddy-duddy ways and Harold sometimes found Madge a bit too harsh but they loved each other dearly.

Unfortunately Madge and Harold didn’t get the chance to grow old and grey together as Madge passed away and Harold eventually remarried and left the street. But rumour has it that Madge and Harold will be returning to Erinsborough as part of the show’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations. How Madge will be returning from the dead, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Bishops together again.

6. DENNIS AND SHARON RICKMAN

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The couple who the public affectionately nicknamed ‘Shannis’ may just be my ultimate favourite soap couple. No, I take that back: Sharon Watts and Dennis Rickman are my ultimate favourite couple. I think I may love them even more than Scott and Charlene and that’s saying something. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an on-screen couple together and got goose-bumps. The chemistry between Letitia Dean and the gorgeous Nigel Harman was astounding. I did have my reservations when I heard that Eastenders’ writers were going to get Sharon and Dennis together – in fact I thought it was bizarre: Sharon was Dennis’s adopted sister after all.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sharon and Dennis were perfect together. Their complicated family situation meant that on more than one occasion one of the twosome got cold feet and called the whole thing off which eventually resulted in Dennis starting a relationship with Zoe Slater. Thankfully he saw sense and realised that Sharon was the woman for him – and the nation cheered. They married but the marriage was sadly short-lived when Dennis was murdered on New Year’s Eve – just as they found out that Sharon was expecting their much longed-for baby.

I totally miss seeing Sharon and Dennis together in Eastenders. I’m sorry but Sharon and Phil… well, they’re no Shannis, are they?

7. BOBBY AND PAMELA EWING

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Dallas’s Bobby and Pam were the complete opposite of JR and Sue-Ellen. This was a couple who truly loved each other but being Texas’s answer to Romeo and Juliet, they had to put up with a lot of family hostility, especially from Bobby’s brother JR who hated the Barnes family with a passion and couldn’t get his head around the fact that his little brother was shacking up with the sister of the enemy.

And family pressures did indeed split them up with them both meeting other partners – Bobby’s relationship in particular with Jenna Wade a.k.a Mrs. Elvis Presley really had viewers on the edge of their seats – but we all knew that Bobby and Pam were a great match and thankfully they realised that too. Despite discovering that Jenna was pregnant with Bobby’s child, Pam went on to remarry Bobby. But in true soap style, there was no happy ever after. Pam was badly injured in a car accident, and although she survived, she couldn’t bear for Bobby or their son Christopher to see how badly disfigured she was, so she left the hospital without telling the Ewings where she was going and filed for divorce.

Bobby went to remarry twice more but it was never the same. Bobby and Pam were an awesome couple.

8. JEFF AND FALLON COLBY

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Jeff and Fallon’s on-off antics had viewers gripped. Sweet, sensible Jeff and flighty Fallon Carrington may have been a bit of a mismatch but these two had plenty of passion and fire and I loved watching them together. Admittedly I did think that Fallon and Jeff’s cousin Miles – who Fallon married when she lost her memory also made a great couple – but they were no Jeff and Fallon. And I remembered being allowed to stay up late to watch Fallon become Mrs. Jeff Colby for the second time in a gorgeous pink gown. The ups and downs didn’t stop there but Jeff and Fallon always found their way back to each other again.

9. PAULINE AND ARTHER FOWLER

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Cardigan-wearing Pauline Fowler and her allotment-loving husband Arthur both appeared during the golden days of Eastenders. But unlike their fiery, passionate counterparts Den and Angie, Pauline and Arthur were considered a little less dramatic, and they definitely preferred a quieter life. But that’s not to say that that’s what they got as the Flowers had more than their fair share of drama over the years: Pauline’s surprise pregnancy; daughter Michelle becoming a teenage mum; Arthur’s breakdown and spell in prison; the death of Pauline’s twin brother Pete… and let’s not forget having to live with Pauline’s domineering mother, Lou.

But the biggest shock of all – just in case anyone thought Pauline and Arthur were too boring – was when Arthur had an affair with Christine Hewitt, who begged him to leave Pauline. On the day that Arthur confessed all to Pauline, he was rewarded, quite memorably, with a whack around the head  with a frying pan. However, this wasn’t enough to finish off Walford’s iconic couple: Pauline and Arthur eventually reunited and stayed married until Arthur’s untimely death.

10. ALF AND AILSA STEWART

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I was a huge fan of this Home And Away couple from day one. Ailsa was Alf’s first real relationship after his wife Martha died and they seemed perfect for each other. Unfortunately Alf’s teenage daughter Roo didn’t think so and tried to find ways to split them up. Roo thought she’d  struck gold when she found out that Ailsa had served time in prison for murdering her father, but when Ailsa explained that her father was an abusive bully and that she’d killed him in self-defence, Alf didn’t need to think twice about resuming his relationship with Ailsa – and told Roo where to go.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for this couple. They had to deal with Ailsa’s post-natal depression after the birth of their son Duncan and more of Roo’s shenanigans. But like Tom and Pippa, they dearly loved each other and made their marriage work until Ailsa’s shock death from a heart attack.

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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Childhood Legends, TV Shows

 

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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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Don’t You Know That The Time Has Arrived? NKOTB’s Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Don’t be alarmed if you see an overly ecstatic woman wearing a smiley face t-shirt and a peace symbol medallion doing cartwheels down the street. Chances are she’s a Blockhead and she’s got a great reason for being super thrilled!

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Us Blockheads knew that we’d be loving New Kids On The Block forever but on Thursday we were prouder than ever as the Boston supergroup were honoured with the 2,530th star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of thousands of screaming, banner-carrying fans who were out in full force to share this very momentous occasion with their idols. I have no idea why it took so long but it was well worth the wait. It was an emotional moment for band members, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood as they received this prestigious tribute – a poignant reminder that they will live on in entertainment history. And it was undoubtedly an equally emotional moment for the fans as we saw just how far they’d come from their humble beginnings to become one of the most famous musical acts ever. No doubt thoughts turned to the first time we ever saw them or heard one of their songs. For some of us, they were our first crush, but for all the fans, they have continued to live on in our hearts – and maybe even still have their posters occupying  wall space! These five special guys played a part during our childhoods and teenage years, and I’m delighted that all these years later, they’re still here and they’ve been given the reward they so richly deserve.

THE CEREMONY

“Fans have been asking for quite a while now when the New Kids on The Block were going to get their star. We want to thank them for “Hangin’ Tough” for waiting patiently to hear the announcement of their favorite boy band star ceremony.” Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies

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Even though I had to make do with watching the ceremony from the comfort of my own home – I so wish I could have been there – I could tell that the atmosphere in Hollywood Boulevard was electric. Fans who have been on this three decade long ride with the New Kids were screaming their heads off and waving banners as though they were still fifteen (I’m surprised no one fainted!) Donnie got very emotional, comedian and friend to the New Kids, Arsenio Hall, paid tribute to the band – and our favourite boys from Boston finally got their star.

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Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Jon and Joey looked super hot – and it had nothing to do with the LA sun – as they stepped up to the podium in co-ordinating suits complete with pink ribbons pinned to their lapels for breast cancer awareness. Even though they smiled and waved to the crowd as speeches were being made, it was evident that they were totally overwhelmed. I suppose that’s the feeling you get when you know you’ve been immortalized forever.

Leron Gubler, president and CEO of Hollywood Chamber of commerce was the first to welcome the band onto the podium, but before he did, he took a little time to remind the crowd of NKOTB’s numerous achievements and accomplishments, including their work for charity, especially for breast cancer awareness, hence the pink bows.

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A very excited bunch of New Kids appeared which drove the crowd wild – and they were very closely followed by Arsenio Hall who has been a supporter of the band from the very beginning. He shared his memories with the fans and explained why the world loved the band so much before it was the turn of Los Angeles City Council’s Mitch O’Farrell to say a few words, who then presented the band with their individual certificates of honour.

It was then time for the band to speak.

With Arsenio Hall

With Arsenio Hall

 

It was Donnie who gave the speech and he revealed that for the first time ever, none of the band wanted to speak because they were so completely overwhelmed and blown away by the day’s events. However I’m not surprised that it was Donnie who got to step up to the mic because he always came across the leader of the group, and the hinge that held them all together. He’s also known for having a way with words which is why my sister and I nicknamed him Words-Of-Wisdom Donnie. And after the speech he delivered, he’s definitely worthy of the name. He talked about the band’s hard work and aspirations from the early days; gave thanks to the band’s family and friends, in particular their children; mentioned all those who were instrumental in their success from the beginning, and remembered those who were no longer with them. Poor Donnie got a little emotional and teary, and I’m sure there wasn’t a Blockhead present who didn’t want to rush up onto the stage and give him a big hug.

Donnie gets emotional

Donnie gets emotional

 

And talking of hugs, I thought the big group hug the others gave Donnie after he’d delivered his speech was so sweet. I love the true friendship that the five of them share. They have a rapport that I don’t see with other members of similar bands. Yes they’ve had their ups and downs over the years, and we all know that there were times when they couldn’t stand to be in the same room. But they’ve grown up and worked out their differences. Whereas most bands are seriously manufactured and thrown together by a record company, the New Kids – with the exception of Joe – all knew each other before they joined the band, so there’s definitely a bond there. Donnie summed up the closeness between the five at the ceremony:

‘We’ve been together for pretty much 30 years. We’ve been friends for longer. We’ve been through the droughts of droughts, the highs of highs. We’ve been through things that most people could never imagine… I think I speak for all of us in saying that I would not have wanted to spend one moment of the last 33 years doing this with anyone besides this team right here. We say it often but we are brothers. And it’s real.”’

THE STORY SO FAR:

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The New Kids formed in 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts when producer Maurice Starr – famous for discovering New Edition – put together brothers Jonathan and Jordan plus their high school friends, Donnie and Danny. Joey completed the line-up and the rest is history. New Kids On The Block superseded the success of New Edition by far, and became more famous than anyone could ever have imagined. They are considered to be the blueprint for boy bands as we know them today, though in my opinion the New Kids set the bar staggeringly high because over the years, boy bands may have come and gone but there’s only ever been one for me… and all my fellow Blockheads know what I’m talking about!

 

But along with the highs came the lows, and the New Kids have experienced more ups and downs than a lift in a tower block. Their meteoric rise to fame; the mass hysteria that had not been witnessed since the days of The Osmonds; their eventual decline and virtual disappearance have all been well-documented. They took a break at the end of 1991, and after a brief comeback in 1994 – complete with abridged name and new image – NKOTB disbanded, seemingly for good, much to the devastation of their fans. For more than a decade, very little was mentioned about the members of the defunct band. Yes, we knew that Jon had moved into real estate; Jordan was working on solo material; Danny popped up as a member of Upper Street; Joey was still involved in the music industry but had also branched out into acting, as did Donnie, although Donnie’s fame was now eclipsed by that of his younger brother Mark Wahlberg, who was fast on his way to becoming a respected Hollywood actor. And of course there was talk of girlfriends, wives and babies – things that had to be kept under wraps when the band were at the height of their fame. With the former New Kids following their own paths in life, a reunion seemed out of the question. Who could forget Bands Reunited where only the Knight brothers agreed to return? As the years went by, the odds of NKOTB making a comeback were very, very low.

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Well it’s a good job I’m not a betting person or I would have lost. As much as it would have been a dream come true for me for my fave band to reunite, I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I’d gotten my hopes up before with their 1994 comeback, plus the boys appeared to have moved on and expressed no interest in reuniting. But to prove that miracles do indeed happen, New Kids On The Block announced that they were getting back together again in 2008 and the world cheered – well us Blockhead’s did anyway! Their first release in nearly fifteen years was Summertime from their album The Block and they’ve been going strong ever since.

With Maurice Starr

With Maurice Starr

 

That’s why their recent accolade is so poignant. If they had not reunited they would have just faded into obscurity and they would have been known as ‘that band what used to be famous.’ When they hit the big time, they had to put up with sneers from critics. When they disbanded they had to put up with even more ridicule and had to watch as part of their fanbase (not the real fans) moved onto the next big thing and forgot about them. They went from being everywhere to being nowhere. They were no longer taken seriously or regarded as cool.

But they rose above it all… and look where they are now…

THE FANS

A fan at the ceremony

A fan at the ceremony

 

“If we are the star that’s going to be on this famed boulevard with these legendary names for the rest of time, then you guys are the soil and the concrete – the foundation that inspires us everyday to get up, keep going and say, ‘To hell with the naysayers,’ and ‘To hell with our crinkly bones.’ You are our fuel, our energy and our inspiration.” Donnie Wahlberg

New Kids On The Block really do have the best fans in the world – even if I do say so myself. However, I know it’s something that the group agree with.

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NKOTB’s  real fans never forgot them or gave up on them and the band are lucky to have such a loyal, strong and supportive fan base. Even though we might have grown up – with a lot of us having New Kids of our own – we’ve grown up with them and their music. And what’s so important about the star that the New Kids have been honoured with is that it was something that the fans called for, especially Melissa Buja, a Blockhead from Massachusetts, who led the campaign for the group to receive a star for the last three years.  As a result, Donnie gave a special mention to the fans during his speech.

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When New Kids first burst on the scene, the whole world went New Kids barmy. We’d had Bros, Brother Beyond and Wham! before them but I’d never seen anything like it. We wore ripped jeans like they did; we made up dances to their songs; we wore black rubber bracelets; we thought rat tails were cool; we went to the concerts we bought anything that had their faces or the band’s logo on it… in short our lives revolved around New Kids On The Block. And it stayed that way until they split.

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Most of us were delighted when they returned in 1994 with Face The Music. We had images of New Kids world domination taking over again. But alas it was not to be. A lot of the fans who used to like NKOTB had now lost interest and were into other boy bands who had formed after seeing the success of the New Kids. No one had ever told either the bands or the fans that imitation is never as good as the real deal! What was sad after the group split was that it was suddenly seriously uncool to admit to liking the New Kids. We were supposed to hate them and toss out all the memorabilia. So I collected all the New Kids goodies that no one wanted any more – and accepted the ridicule that went with it. I look at my vast collection of New Kids memorabilia and it was all so worth it. As far as I’m concerned, the New Kids have always been in and always been cool and I really don’t give two sh**s what anyone thinks. At least I don’t have sheep mentality.

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I’d met and formed a friendship with another Blockhead after the group broke up. I always liked meeting people who were still very much Blockheads and proud of it, who said that she was a Boyzone fan because out of all the boy bands out there, they were the best of the bunch. But her heart well and truly belonged to the New Kids – especially Joey McIntyre. It still does.

Us fans have never been prouder of being Blockheads than we were on Thursday!

WHY WE LOVE THEM

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Goodness – where do we start! The New Kids are mega talented, gorgeous, they sing beautifully, have great moves, write amazing lyrics, show love to their fans, are very family-orientated, still love their hometown… I could go on forever. It’s so difficult to put into words why we love them. They’re a band like no other. They’ve captured our hearts and there will never be another group like them.

The Bean Town posse proved that it was possible for the ordinary kid on the block to live the dream and be a success. They proved that it was possible to get back up on your feet when you got knocked down and come back bigger and badder than ever. And they weren’t afraid of hard work. I remember listening to an interview with the New Kids when the interviewer, Clive Warren, remembered going on tour with the boys and described just how hard they worked:

“You would have breakfast just before the evening show,” Warren revealed.

"I don't care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama's..."

“I don’t care what any of you say, this selfie is way cooler than Obama’s…”

I also remember how Take That took a pop at them back in ’94 when the New Kids were making a comeback. The delightful Gary Barlow said that the boys would probably be opening up for Take That. A very dignified Joey McIntyre refused to rise to the bait but did say that he didn’t think Take That would be saying stupid things like that if they were all in the same room.

Too right! And far be it for me to gloat but I think we can all see who’s having the last laugh now.

I love the New Kids. Totally love them. I always will. I have been a proud Blockhead since day one – and I could not be prouder. Thanks for all the magical memories, New Kids. I look forward to many more and huge congrats on your success. You’re awesome!

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 “You know why I love them? They make us happy. You cannot listen to a song or watch a video and not smile. Their songs will be our oldies when we’re old. We’re going to have the greatest oldies in the history of music… because we have New Kids.” Arsenio Hall

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World Cup ’98: England Does Us Proud!

World Cup 2014 is still under way but unfortunately England’s early exit from the tournament has dulled our enthusiasm for a sporting event we’d spent the last four years looking forward to. To be honest despite my disappointment, I can’t say I’m too surprised – I’ve never seen a team play with so little passion and enthusiasm. I may not be a football expert or a professional footballer but from what I saw, I don’t think the England team gave it their all. ‘Could have done better’ is an understatement. This, I believe, is the second time that England has been knocked out after two matches, and for me, 2014 will be the year that our national team flopped spectacularly. What did they think this was – the Eurovision Song Contest? No room for nul points here!

The Magnificent Eleven

The Magnificent Eleven

 

I think back to World Cup ’98 in France. It was the very first World Cup tournament I followed closely (thanks to my then eight year old brother) and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s so memorable for me. The other reason is because I still remember how the England team played in their match against Argentina – the match in which die-hard England fans were hoping that England would avenge Maradona’s 1986 hand of God goal. And those England players really did take to the pitch as though they were going to war and totally played their football socks off. Yes, some underhand tactics were used (cough, cough, Mr. Shearer!) there was fury when Sol Campbell’s goal was disallowed (seriously, Ref, what was that all about?) and who could forget the tears, tantrums and frustration as Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, was given a red card. But I remember how  the England squad played and gave it everything they got. No one could ever forget the two goals scored by Michael Owen and the team’s captain Alan Shearer. And even though he didn’t score, Darren Anderton was commended for his performance and I can see why – poor Darren looked ready to drop but he went after that ball as though his life depended on it.

 

At home, we were all on the edge of our seats, screaming wildly at the telly – even Mum who normally has no time for footy. My little brother – who was in his England shirt – was the quietest even though he’s the most fanatical about football, but his little face was etched with worry one minute and brimming with exhilaration the next. We thought that this time, England might just have a chance.

But alas it was not to be as England went home without the cup yet again. It was a tie between the two teams, so it went into extra time, followed by penalties, which Argentina eventually won. But the difference back then was that we could be proud of our team for putting up an almighty fight and for playing as a team – I feel there was a real sense of brotherhood which didn’t sense with our current squad. I really believe they did our country proud. And even though, I never became what you could call a football fanatic, I definitely fell in love with our national team – and all because of one match. Who thought football could be so dramatic?

The night didn’t end so well. Little brother stomped up the stairs; opened the door to his room; switched on the light; slammed the door shut; turned off the light and went to bed – probably while still in his England shirt.

If only he knew that worse was yet to come… and how the team back then could have taught our current team a thing or two.

Do us proud in 2018, England!

 

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I’ll Be Loving You Forever: NKOTB Celebrate 30 Years With Vegas Bash

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Back in 1994, I was listening to a radio interview on Capital Radio where presenter Clive Warren was speaking to Boston boy band New Kids On The Block as they made their comeback after an absence of three years. During this interview, Donnie Wahlberg revealed that the band had been together for ten years.

“Ten years!” exclaimed Warren, “that’s incredible!”

As they were back in the day!

As they were back in the day!

And indeed it was. Despite a few exceptions, pop acts aren’t expected to last longer than a couple of years so ten years seemed like a lifetime, and as I sat at home listening to the interview while having naughty thoughts about that Jordan, I shared Warren’s sense of amazement.

The very first album cover three decades ago

The very first album cover three decades ago

 

Fast forward to 2014 and guess what? New Kids On The Block – or NKOTB as they like to be called – have announced that they will be hosting a four day party and concert extravaganza in sin city itself, Las Vegas, to celebrate – wait for it – thirty years since the group was formed. That’s right – THIRTY YEARS!!!

Las Vegas: The soon-to-be scene of much musical mayhem!

Las Vegas: The soon-to-be scene of much musical mayhem!

It’s not a typo of any kind – the New Kids were formed by Maurice Starr in 1984 when they really were just, er, New Kids. Many Blockheads have taken to the forums to say that although they are delighted by news of the Las Vegas residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood and the fact that the beloved boy band have been together for thirty years… the news also made them feel very old! Thankfully for me, I never did get past the age of fifteen, so I don’t feel old – but I am wondering where all those years went…

 

I still remember the very first time I saw the ’80s favourites. It was November 1989 and I was sat at home watching Top Of The Pops with my dad and sister. The New Kids were starting to make a name for themselves on this side of the Atlantic. I’d already heard (You Got It) The Right Stuff played on the radio a million times which was just as well because I never got bored of it, and all my classmates couldn’t stop going on about them (I went to an all-girls school!) I’d had phases of being into other pop acts: Wham! Duran Duran, Bros, Brother Beyond, Kylie and Jason… but seeing NKOTB for the first time doing the New Kids dance was something I will never forget. Was it possible to get five hotties in one band? Did Jordan Knight need a license to be that gorgeous? Where did they get those magic feet from? Damn, they could sing! I fell in love with Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jon and Jordan there and then and it has most definitely not been a phase because I’m still besotted with them after all these years.

New Kids On The Block And Backstreet Boys Shop At Sugar Factory At Paris Las Vegas

The band went on to sell over eighty million records; become the kings of merchandising; have their own cartoon show; appear on just about every music program and talk show (as well as in our dreams!) and generally conquered the world with their combination of smooth vocals, choreography that kids were trying to recreate in school playgrounds and drop-dead-pass-out-and-die looks. They were also the boy band who gave us the erm, boy band! Love them or hate them for that, there is no denying that there have been a zillion boybands since them, all trying to emulate the success of the New Kids. Take That were formed as a British boy-band to rival the New Kids, and Boyzone’s Shane Lynch has revealed that he harboured ambitions to join a boy-band after seeing New Kids On The Block on the telly. To be honest, I really do wish that boy-bands had began and stopped with the New Kids because there hasn’t been a group who has been even half as good as the New Kids – not really a surprise as you can’t improve on perfection!

Beautiful Boston where it all began

Beautiful Boston where it all began

Sadly along with the highs, there have also been a lot of lows. An extremely loud cracking noise that could be heard all over the world in 1991 was identified as the sound of millions of young hearts breaking as New Kids On The Block announced their split amid rumours of escalating tensions and rivalries among the band. Even before that there were scandals as Donnie Wahlberg was accused of starting a fire at a hotel and was rumoured to be living with a much older woman (remember this was in the days when teen heart-throbs couldn’t admit to having a girlfriend!) The comeback in 1994 proved to be short-lived: NKOTB went their separate ways for good (so it seemed) once die-hard fans ripped up their posters and moved on to the latest pop group du jour. Jordan Knight later admitted in interviews that launching a solo career was hard as he was regarded as a has-been at the tender age of twenty six and couldn’t escape the band’s perceived cheesy image.

The NKOTB dolls

The NKOTB dolls

During the years that followed, the New Kids virtually faded into obscurity and never again graced magazine covers or were top billing at any show.  There were a few precious glimpses of our favourite Bostonians over the years: Donnie and Joe were both forging ahead with acting careers; Jordan embarked on a solo career, and Danny got a place in short-lived boy-band Upper Street. Jon was the only one who withdrew completely from the crazy world of showbiz and settled for a more quieter life, although he did make the odd television appearance.

As cartoon characters

As cartoon characters

But then everything changed in 2008 when a miracle happened and the five bad brothers from the Beantown decided to make one final attempt at pop domination. And thank goodness for that because they’ve achieved what they set out to do plus healed the hearts of the fans who never went away. The rest is history and the band are still going strong.

I was so sure I was going to be Mrs. Knight... along with a million other girls!

I was so sure I was going to be Mrs. Knight… along with a million other girls!

The last thirty years have been one hell of a ride! Speaking to People magazine, Jordan Knight revealed that passing years have done little to curb their enthusiasm:

” It is cool because it is still the same because no matter how old you get, there is still a kid inside of you.”

Knight also went on to say that it was the success of their annual cruises that gave them the Vegas idea and inspired them to host the residency and have a “cruise on land” in order to do something special to mark this momentous occasion – and the boys are really looking forward to performing at night and hosting pool parties during the day : 

“At the end of the four days, I’m sure we will be almost dead. But it is fun and kind of intoxicating just hanging out with all the fans.”

Donnie Wahlberg added in a statement:

“The band has been focusing on all sorts of solo projects and now prepping for our European tour, but we knew we wanted to do something special Stateside for 2014. We knew we had a limited time block where we could do something fun and we knew we had to make it memorable! What better place than Vegas?”

Paul Natkin

 

And what better people to party with than the New Kids On The Block? The short festival will be called After Dark and kicks off on July 10. Tickets go on sale on 4th April. Will I be going? Well, I’m trying to twist Hubby’s arm and convincing him we need a Las Vegas holiday around that time but he’s having none of it. I am working on it though. After all i’s not every day your fave pop band celebrates their thirtieth anniversary.

 

Damn! Now I do feel old!

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Happy Anniversary Scott And Charlene: 25 Years Since THAT Wedding…

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My goodness; how time flies…

Neighbours’ Scott and Charlene Robinson celebrate their silver wedding anniversary? No way! Well apparently they just have. November 8th marked 25 years since that wedding episode was aired on UK screens in what was the show’s 523rd episode, watched by 20 million avid Neighbours’ fans. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will! TV weddings have come and gone but Scott and Charlene’s screen nuptials is without a doubt the most iconic and the most enduring in soap history.

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I remember it as though it were yesterday…

The slightly nervous but dashing groom; handsome groomsmen, Paul and Mike; mother-of-the-bride, Madge got her hat out; Nell Mangle making eyes at Harold Bishop; pretty-in-pink bridesmaids Jane Harris and Lucy Robinson… and lets not forget Charlene in that dress! In a gown that rival’s Lady Di’s in terms of memorability, Charlene’s wedding dress didn’t disappoint. It was very full on 80s: a huge skirt, sheer gigot sleeves with Chantilly lace, high Edwardian-style neckline, the organza, the tulle, the rose detail not to mention the dress taking on a slight peachy-pink hue. This dress was busier than the bride’s mother with so much going on. And that’s before we get to the 1980s gypsophilia in her hair.  All that was missing was the 100 metre train! It may seem a little dated now but at the time, I bet many real-life brides-to-be took inspiration from Charlene’s gown and there’s no denying that outdated or not, it’s still beautiful.

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As UK viewers were 18 months behind episodes in Australia, fans already knew that Scott and Charlene had got hitched; saw the dress, and we knew who was in the wedding party due to British newspapers and magazines delighting in revealing every detail about the wedding which was hugely anticipated by the media to become the wedding of the year. The were wrong – it went on to become the wedding of a lifetime.  But the coming together of this storyline was devised for less than romantic reasons: apparently viewers back in the 80s weren’t cool about seeing an unmarried couple living together (oh how times have changed!) But had it not been for these complaints, we wouldn’t have witnessed the greatest TV wedding of all time.

Scott and Charlene: two of the hottest characters in Neighbours

Scott and Charlene: two of the hottest characters in Neighbours

 

To say that Neighbours was huge back in the 1980s is a bit like saying that Australia is a bit on the warm side! Neighbours-mania had struck England harder than any meteorite could and two of the show’s biggest stars were… the bride and groom themselves, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. In fact it’s arguably due to Kylie’s pop career that the success of the show skyrocketed. Was there a girl anywhere who didn’t want to copy Kylie’s perm (the ‘Rachel’ cut of the eighties) and marry Jason Donovan? Was there a boy who didn’t want to have Donovan’s surf hunk looks in the hope of catching a Kylie lookalike for himself? I didn’t think so!

As the fans remember Kylie and Jason: performing Especially For You

As the fans remember Kylie and Jason: performing Especially For You

 

It was also well-documented that Kylie and Jason were a real-life couple would have delighted fans and left them heartbroken in equal measure (I was definitely in the heartbroken camp and couldn’t understand why Jason wouldn’t wait for me to grow up!) But whereas Scott and Charlene are still happily married and living in ‘Brizzy’ with two kids, Kylie and Jason didn’t last the course, although they are still friends and delighted fans with a one-off musical performance last year.

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When I watched it as a kid, I was just in awe of seeing ‘Kylie and Jason’ getting married and admiring the all-important dress but it’s only when I watched it again when I was much older that I realised just how moving it was: a young couple overcoming the disapproval of their families who feared they were too young to commit; their closest friends and family gathered to witness the impending nuptials; Charlene’s walk down the aisle with her brother, Henry; the way the couple gazed at each other as they said their vows; tears from the mother of the bride, Madge Ramsay… and who could forget Angry Anderson’s Suddenly that played as Scott and Charlene said their vows? That song has become a classic and will forever be synonymous with the wedding episode.

 

Aussie rocker, Angry Anderson

Aussie rocker, Angry Anderson

 

 

You have to watch it just to understand how brilliantly awesome it was in a classic 80s kind of way. There’ll never be another soap wedding like it.

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Happy anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Robinson!

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Childhood Legends, Our Idols, TV Shows

 

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