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A Tearful G’bye To Doug: A Look-Back At Ramsay Street’s Willis Family

 Hotel Death Trap week on Neighbours was truly gripping stuff! But it’s also been incredibly heartbreaking, and I think it’s safe to say that life on Ramsay Street will never be the same again. Viewers watched Josh Willis die after bravely sacrificing his life to save his nemesis, Daniel. Today his grandfather Doug collapsed and died shortly after reuniting son Brad with his own estranged son, Ned. What is it with those scriptwriters – they really had it in for the poor Willis family!!!

The scenes of Doug’s death, featuring three generations of Willis men, were extremely poignant. When you mention the Willis family, fans of Neighbours  today will think of Brad and Therese, their three children, Josh, Imogen, and Piper plus Brad’s daughter Paige. But when I think of the Willises, I go right back to the early nineties, when the Willis family consisted of Doug and his wife Pam, and their children Adam, Gaby, Cody and of course – Brad!

When Des Clarke sold his house to Doug Willis, I didn’t think that I’d take to the Willises the same way I did with the Clarkes – I was wrong. I  absolutely adored this family and still do. At this time there weren’t really many families as such living on Ramsay Street so this new family unit made a very welcome addition and their lighthearted attitude to life proved to be a breath of fresh air.

THE MARRIAGE

Neighbours Viewers already knew Cody Willis but they got to meet her parents Doug and Pam just before they took over Des Clarke’s  house and set up home in Ramsay Street. They may have been married for over twenty years but anyone could see that the spark was very much there between Doug and his wife. And they didn’t behave like a couple of old marrieds either. Who can forget when Pam tricked Doug into removing all his clothes before locking him out of the house and refusing to let him back in until he promised to take her out dancing?

It was probably because the Willis marriage was so strong that Doug’s habit of flirting with attractive women didn’t bother Pam at all. But there were times when it caused Pam to worry: when Doug’s ex-girlfriend, Alexandra showed up briefly in Erinsborough, and when Lou’s sister, Brenda, became infatuated with Doug.

Both times Pam’s fears proved unfounded. But neither she nor Doug could have predicted what was around the corner…

While nursing neighbour, Jim Robinson back to health, Pam realised she was attracted to him. Her behaviour caused Doug to become quite suspicious of her and Jim but Pam made the fatal error of confessing her feelings for Jim to her ‘good friend’ Jill Weir – not realising that Jill had set her sights on Doug.

Jill used this information to her advantage which resulted in her spending the night with Doug in his hotel room. When she found out, a furious Pam threw Doug out of the house and started divorce proceedings before embarking on a brief fling with Jim.

But it took Doug getting lost at sea to make the warring Willises realise they still loved each other and reunited, ending one of the lowest points in their marriage. And after four years in Ramsay Street, Doug and Pam upped sticks and moved to Darwin after Doug was offered a job there.

THE KIDS

Doug and Pam were the proud parents of four children: two boys, Adam and Brad, and two girls, Gaby and Cody. 

All the Willis kids were extremely close and looked out for each other. They were all fun-loving  but they were also as different as they were alike. Adam was studying to be a doctor who couldn’t decide between Caroline Alessi and Gemma Ramsay (although he eventually left the Street to start a new life with Gemma.) Gaby had been studying business in Hong Kong before coming to live with her family in Erinsborough. Brad was the typical, ultra laid- back surfer, and as a sign of what was to happen in years to come, was caught up in a love triangle between Beth and Lauren. Brad eventually chose Beth but Lauren would get her chance in years to come… Then there was baby of the family, Cody. Headstrong and independent, Cody was a rebel who was always determined to get her own way but nonetheless was doted on by both her parents. She was madly in love with Todd Landers but left to study in America.

All the Willis kids eventually left Ramsay Street to start new lives elsewhere. After a while the characters of Cody and Brad were brought back – although they were not played by the original actors – and Gaby made a cameo appearance in Annalise Hartman’s documentary. Only Adam seems to have been forgotten about but viewers can only assume that Dr. Adam Willis is still living happily in Newcastle with Gemma.

THE LAUGHTER

One thing that I loved about this family was that there was always a lot of love and laughter in the Willis household. Sure they had their problems like everyone else and they endured some pretty rough times, but on the whole, they were very fun loving and never took themselves too seriously. I loved the scene where Brad and Gaby were play fighting with Doug despairing if they’d ever grow up because it reminded me of my own family.

Adam once explained that practical joking was a family tradition, and the Willises did indeed like pranking each other. I remember after one prank got Doug arrested, he got his own back by getting Cody arrested by a police officer. The way it played out was so funny.

And then there’s was Adam’s disastrous first date with Caroline Alessi where his car broke down. It would have infuriated most people but not Adam. Ever the optimist, Adam got a take away pizza and then turned on the radio so that he and Caroline could dance while roadside assistance repaired the car. “Told you I’d take you out dancing after dinner,” Adam told Caroline, looking thoroughly pleased with himself, demonstrating the Willis ability to look on the bright side.

THE HARDSHIPS

Despite all the fun and laughter, the Willises also faced some pretty testing times when laughing was the last thing they wanted to do. There was the time Pam was arrested after being accused of helping one of her patients to die. It was a very worrying time for the family and Pam was determined not to go to prison for something she didn’t do. Thankfully charges against her were dropped.

But worse was to come when the Willises youngest son, Brad, was imprisoned on false drug smuggling charges in Asia- a crime which carried the death penalty. An extremely frantic Doug and Pam flew out, leaving the elder two kids, Adam and Gaby, to raise the funds they needed to get Brad out of jail. After a while Doug and Pam arrived in Erinsborough – with Brad in tow!

Despite Doug having his own business, the Willis family weren’t exactly rolling in it. Pam often took to driving her father’s cab when money was tight, and once many years ago, Pam was forced to pawn her engagement ring, and was extremely relieved to get it back. So financial worries were nothing new to the family.

But things went from bad to worse.

After a joint business venture with Paul Robinson went wrong, Doug found himself in debt. Forced to sell the business, Doug was then employed by the new owners but a difference of opinion led to Doug being sacked. He then spiralled into depression, leading to excessive drinking and a near- breakdown.

But being made of tougher stuff, the Willises got through it.

THE TRAGEDIES

Despite their happy demeanor, the Willises experienced more than their fair share of heartache. Doug and Pam lost one of their children – a baby boy called John – when he was around eighteen months old. Then tragedy struck again years later when their youngest child Cody was accidentally shot and killed during a shoot out on Ramsay Street, leaving the family distraught.

In more recent times, Doug’s health began to deteriorate rapidly as he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unable to cope with the demands of looking after her husband, Pam sent Doug to stay with Brad where the whole family rallied round and did their best to care for Doug but it was painfully clear to everyone that Doug was steadily getting worse.

And of course as viewers saw last week, fate decided that it wasn’t done with the Willis family as the explosion that rocked Lassiter’s, claimed the lives of Doug and his grandson, Josh, ensuring that the Willis family would never be the same again and that the union between Doug and his beloved Pam had finally come to an end. However will Pam cope?

THE NEXT GENERATION OF WILLISES

The fact that a new generation of Willises were brought back to Erinsborough almost twenty years since Pam and Doug had left for Darwin proves that the Willis family had indeed made an impact and were still fondly remembered. Brad, his second wife, Therese, twins Josh and Imogen, together with youngest daughter Piper, and Brad’s long- lost daughter Paige make up the new Willis family. There may not be as much larking about in the Willis household this time round but they’re definitely not short on drama!

I had always believed that it was the decision of the actors who played Pam and Doug – Sue Jones and Terrence Donovan – to leave Neighbours, marking the departure of the last two Willises left in Ramsay Street. But an interview with Terrance Donovan revealed that Pam and Doug were written out to make way for a family unit with teenage kids, thus keeping in line with the hotter, younger, sexier new image the show was trying to convey. Enter the Kennedys! To be honest its only in recent years that I’ve grown to love Karl and Susan which means I’ve finally forgiven them for ousting the Willises from their home! But I never really did take to the Kennedy kids the way I did with the Willis kids and I would have loved for them – the whole family – to have stayed.

I think another reason why I’m so fond if the Willis family is because the were around during Neighbours’ heyday – a time when we all rushed home from school to watch Neighbours so that we could discuss it at school; when Neighbours’ stars got all the magazine covers, and the show’s actors appeared on our TV screens more than our own homegrown talent. The Willis family are a reminder of those days and of everything that was going on in my own life at the time.

It’s sad that Terrence Donovan’s association with Neighbours which has spanned a period of more than twenty five years has come to an end. And as Terrence is the real-life father of Jason Donovan – who brought the role of Scott Robinson to life – it makes that association somehow stronger. And let’s not forget Terrence’s sensitive portrayal of a man battling Alzheimer’s which raised further awareness of the illness. Doug’s time on the Street has come to an end but we will always have very fond memories of Doug and remember him as a hardworking, down-to-earth family man who loved his wife and kids – not to mention having a laugh.

G’bye Doug – Ramsay Street just won’t be same…

 

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in TV Shows

 

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Nul Points – No Way! My Most Memorable UK Eurovision Entries

It’s that time again. Eurovision is here. My mum no doubt is glued to the box right now and die-hard Eurovision fans across Europe – and for the first time ever, Australia (yeah I don’t understand that either) – are throwing Eurovision themed parties and trying to work out which country will be hailed this year’s winner, which will be revealed in just over an hour.

And this year’s Eurovision isn’t any old Eurovision either as the annual European song contest is in its sixtieth year. who would have thought that a musical competition that was initially created as a means of bringing peace and harmony back to post-war Europe would still be going strong today? Well it’s aim was to bring peace and harmony but as we all know that judging by the tactical voting and obvious bias towards certain countries, politics is very much at play. But it’s also a display of musical talent, fun, entertainment and over the top performances.

The Eurovision Song Contest used to be a big deal in my family, and every year we would huddle around the TV and watch all the acts. We’d even be allowed to stay up late to watch the voting. I remember one year in the mid-eighties, I really wanted Italy to win because one of the singers looked a lot like my aunt. When they didn’t win, I burst into tears – much to the annoyance of my dad!

I have to say that in recent years, I have been much of a Eurovision fan. I can’t really pinpoint why other than there have been quite a few changes over the years and it’s just not as good as it once was – in my opinion at least – and given the choice, I’d much rather be doing something else than watching Eurovision.

But I won’t knock it. I’m glad it’s still around as it brings back great memories for me. This got me thinking about some of my most memorable UK entries. The ones I’ve selected aren’t all necessarily the most amazing or my most favourite. But they are definitely the ones that are most memorable or most well-known to me, and good or bad, they’ve all stood out in some way.

1. 1981, DUBLIN BUCKS FIZZ – MAKING YOUR MIND UP 1st Place

I’d definitely entered the world by the time Bucks Fizz represented the United Kingdom back in 1981 with making your mind up. I’d either have been perched on my Eurovision nut mum’s lap or I’d have been fast asleep in my cot – either way I obviously don’t remember seeing the moment Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby G – who had been specially put together for the song contest – performed in Dublin.

However I do remember seeing it years later, and that skirt ripping moment is definitely one of the most iconic in Eurovision history – that still gets talked about. Furthermore we were all big Bucks Fizz fans at home so they played a big part in our childhood.

 

2. 1984, LUXEMBOURG,  BELLE AND THE DEVOTIONS – LOVE GAMES 7th place

Even though I don’t remember the song very well, I did remember Belle and The Devotions. I remember them appearing on television a fair bit before they took part in the song contest. As I watched the contest, I remember wondering why Belle and The Devotions were the only act I recognized and moreover why the other acts were not singing in English. I remember very little about the 1984 show but I’m pretty certain I lost interest soon after Belle And The Devotions performance. I was still only a little ‘un and had a while to go before I entered into the Eurovison spirit of things – and under my mother’s influence I did!

3. 1985, GOTHEBURG, VIKKI – LOVE IS 4TH PLACE

To be totally honest I don’t remember the song at all but I do remember Vikki and seeing her perform on Top Of The Pops. despite finishing at a not-at-all-bad fourth place, Vikki didn’t become a household name unfortunately but she continues to work as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles where she is now based.

4. 1987, BRUSSELS, RIKKI – ONLY THE LIGHT 13TH PLACE

I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who would love to forget this song – Rikki included – but I think they’re being a bit harsh as listening to it years later, I actually think it’s quite catchy and a fine bit of pop music and Rikki’s vocals were pretty good. In fact it’s not just years later – I actually thought that at the time.

I remember Rikki and the track he wrote himself, Only The Light, much better than the previous UK entries because my sister and I not only used to sing Only The Light (much to the annoyance of the neighbours no doubt!) but we also came up with some choreography as well – though looking at the performance I think it’s fair to say that Rikki beat us hands down!

Although Rikki wasn’t the first UK entry to place below the Top Ten, never before had a UK entry placed so low at a disappointing thirteen – though I think this was extremely unfair as it wasn’t a bad song and Rikki, accompanied by his backing vocalists, gave it their all. I do remember this entry getting a lot of stick in the media the next day.

Then Jemini came along and all was forgiven!

5. 1988, DUBLIN, SCOTT FITZGERALD – GO 2ND PLACE

We all have our personal favourites and most memorable performances when it comes to Eurovision entries and Go, a track penned by Bruce Forsythe’s daughter Julie and performed by Scott Fitzgerald just happens to be mine. I wasn’t into ballady type numbers when I was a kid (that was more Mum’s thing) but there was something about this song that really jumped out at me. It could have been Scott’s powerful vocals, or the emotion in his voice, or just simply that it’s a great song. Naturally we always backed the UK when it came to Eurovision (even if we did sometimes secretly think that other countries had better songs and performances) but now we were convinced that Scott Fitzgerald was going to bring it home for us.

And he very nearly did.

It was nailbitingly neck and neck between the UK and Switzerland but Mum wasn’t too worried.

“That Swiss song wasn’t all that fantastic,” was Mum’s expert opinion.

By the time there was only one country left to vote, Switzerland was in the lead by only one point but we were so sure victory was going to be ours. I can’t remember who the last country to vote was but I do remember the moment when I knew it was all over:

“And finally twelve points goes to -”

Please let it be the UK, please, please…

“France.”

Cue much shouting, cheering and cartwheels from the Swiss team.

Of course the press had a field day about the unfairness of it all. Fancy the United Kingdom being beaten by just one measly point. It was like Mexico ’86 all over again – we’d come so far and victory was in our grasp only for us to have it snatched from us. But at least this time there was no cheating or Hand of God involved.

The press also commented on whether it was acceptable to have a Canadian representing Switzerland in the song contest.

Clearly the singer didn’t Think Twice about the fuss as she – Celine Dion – was on her way to bigger and better things.

6. 1991, ROME, SAMANTHA JANUS – MESSAGE TO YOUR HEART JOINT 10TH PLACE

When the future Ronnie Mitchell/Branning/Cotton was flying the flag for the United Kingdom back in 1991, I sadly was unable to watch it due to our prehistoric telly being on the blink! However I do remember a lot being said about the absolutely stunning, blonde twenty one year old then unknown, Samantha Janus,  who was going to perform Message To Your Heart, a song intended to prick the listeners’ social conscious regarding serious world wide issues. It was probably in the same vein as New Kids’ This One’s For The Children – and as everyone know New Kids On The Block can do no wrong in my eyes – but Message To Your Heart just didn’t make the same impact.

And for all those who suspected that Samantha Janus would probably end up pulling pints one day – they were right!

7. 1992, MALMO, MICHAEL BALL – ONE STEP OUT OF TIME 2ND PLACE

We just thought of Michael Ball as the Aspects Of Love bloke – the one who did a bit of musical theatre. So when we heard that he would be making a bid to represent the United Kingdom, we thought it would be a number that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lloyd-Webber production.

So sis and I were amazed when Michael Ball rocked up with an up-tempo pop song – a song we couldn’t get out of out heads for days. And we loved Ball’s choreography!

I felt disappointed at the time that the UK lost out yet again but hey, we came second (again) so not all bad!

 

8. 1993, Co. CORK, SONIA – BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW 2ND PLACE

We’d always loved Sonia ever since she burst onto the scene with You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You and my mum was a huge fan:

“Aw that Sonia. she sings all the old songs and gets to number one.” Er, really Mum???

Well the fact that Better The Devil You Know (not the Kylie classic) wasn’t an ‘old song’ might explain why Sonia didn’t get to ‘number one’ in the Eurovision charts and win. Well that’s what Mum would have said anyway. But Sonia did us proud all the same. She sang her heart out and gave a great performance with a song that’s in my head to this day. Furthermore Better The Devil You Know did well in the national charts.

Plus I loved that purple jumpsuit!

9. 1994, DUBLIN, FRANCES RUFFELLE LONELY SYMPHONY 10TH PLACE

I have to admit, I didn’t know who Frances Ruffelle was prior to her representing the UK in Eurovision. She was – and still is – star of the West End stage, and also the daughter of Sylvia Young, and the mother of Eliza Dolittle.

Frances’ song was quite different to the previous Eurovision entries as it was less pop driven, more soulful, atmospheric song with a moving melody, and definitely not as cheesy as previous offerings. It also didn’t go for the novelty factor. Definitely one of the most sophisticated entries we’ve ever had.

 

10. 1995, DUBLIN, LOVE CITY GROOVE- LOVE CITY GROOVE 10TH PLACE

For the first time ever, rap came to the Eurovision song contest via the United Kingdom. And to this day I can still remember the chorus. I know this song was heavily criticised at the time for not being ‘Eurovision’ enough but I don’t think it’s a horrendous song at all, and as urban music was the only thing I’d listen to back then, I actually quite liked it. It had that cool summertime vibe and pop beat that was typical of all mid-nineties rap that didn’t come over all gold tooth and gangsta! It did placed tenth just as their predecessor Frances Ruffelle had done the year before but it did a lot better than most people had expected. I think the truth of the matter is that Eurovision just wasn’t ready for rap from the UK.

11. 1996, OSLO, GINA G – OOH AAH… JUST A LITTLE BIT 8TH PLACE

This stunning Aussie redhead, born Gina Mary Gardiner, represented the United Kingdom back in 1996 and whereas most Eurovision hopefuls are rarely heard of again once the contest is over, Gina was very popular in Britain for quite some time. She had four UK chart hits after Ooh Aah… she also did well in America where she was nominated for a Grammy award, graced the covers of many mags, and was never off the telly!

I have to say although Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit was very catchy and something of a club anthem back then, Gina’s brand of pop, house and dance wasn’t really my thing as I was very much an urban chick but it hearing this track does bring back tons of memories of my secondary school days.

After years of living in London, Gina eventually relocated to Los Angeles where she still resides today and is still involved in the music industry.

12. 1997, DUBLIN, KATRINA AND THE WAVES – LOVE SHINE A LIGHT 1ST PLACE

I’m walking on sunshine… woah-oh, I’m walking on sunshine… woah-oh, I’m walking on sunshine…woah oh

And don’t it feel good! Hey!

It’s one of the most recognizable tracks from the eighties and the one that British rock band Katrina And The Waves were most well-known for.

But that was until 1997 when Katrina And The Waves represented the United Kingdom with Love Shine A Light. I remember watching lead singer, Kansas-born Katrina Leskanich, being interviewed just before the contest and being asked how she would feel if they ended up getting the dreaded ‘nul points’.

“But it’s not going to get nul points,” Katrina responded confidently, “come on – it’s a great song.”

Well she wasn’t wrong. That year, the UK headed to the top of the scoreboard and secured their first win since Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up sixteen years earlier.

It was the second time the United Kingdom have won the Eurovision Song Contest in my life time – but only the first time that I actually got to see and remember it.

Now if only I could see England win the World Cup…

13. 1998, BIRMINGHAM, IMAANI – WHERE ARE YOU? 2ND PLACE

Admittedly I’d forgotten this song and the singer Imaani – who still singning and putting out records – but as soon as I heard this song again, it all came flooding back. It was a very good entry and although it didn’t secure a second consecutive win for us, it finished at a very respectable place.

14. 2003, LATVIA, JEMINI – CRY BABY 26TH PLACE

OK, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who’d like to forget Jemini but how could we ever forget the only UK act ever to get the infamous nul point?

 

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Soon-To-Be Thirty Neighbours Congratulates EastEnders

With all the celebration that has been surrounding EastEnders thirtieth birthday celebrations, it’s very easy to forget that there’s another legendary soap that’s less than a month away from turning thirty. That’s right – our favourite Aussie soap Neighbours began the same year as EastEnders and it quickly became a hit this side of the world.

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So just when you thought the soap-themed posts at Nostalgia Pie were almost over, there’s going to be another bumper crop starting very soon as Neighbours reaches it’s fantastic milestone. In the meantime, check out this hilarious parody by the Neighbours cast as they congratulate EastEnders on reaching thirty – great effort with the Cockney accents! I almost had a bit of a lump in my throat as I realised just how loved our home-grown soap is.

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Hopefully EastEnders will return the kind sentiment.

http://www.channel5.com/shows/neighbours/clips/happy-birthday-eastenders

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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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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E(xpress) Y(ourself) C(learly): I Feel It!

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

I got a text from a friend last night in which she told me that she’d been to a club and heard a song that we used to love when we were teens (music was so much better back then!) This led to a conversation about other groups and songs we used to jam to back in the day, and I remembered a group we really, really used to love way back when. I cannot believe I ever forgot them in the first place but it’s as though a piece of the jigsaw that is my memory has finally slotted back into place!

It’s no secret that I was and still am a massive New Kids On The Block fan. But there was another American boy band in the early nineties who arrived on the scene just as NKOTB were preparing to make their long awaited comeback. They may have been tagged with the boy band label but the truth is they were a lot slicker, edgier and cooler than all the boy bands who had popped up after the New Kids split. They veered more towards r’n’b/pop rather than cheesy pop, and for all those who think that boy bands are for twelve year old girls, well, this was a boy band with a difference. They were a raunchier, sexed-up version of a boy band with a more mature look and sound. In interviews, they certainly didn’t act as though they’d never been kissed and that’s putting it mildly! Yep, this was definitely one for the adults.

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Who am talking about? EYC of course! In fact said friend pointed out that we first spotted them more than twenty years ago. Twenty years? That’s crazy! I swear it was just last week!

WHO ARE EYC?

EYC – which stood for Express Yourself Clearly – comprised of the gorgeous Trey Parker, Dave Loeffler and Damon Butler. They formed in 1990 and were signed to MCA Records. The band were influenced by R n b, hip-hop and gospel music. Their motto was express yourself clearly, but their catchphrase was “EYC-ya!” which they yelled at the end of performances and interviews.

Their debut album

Their debut album

The first time I saw them perform was when they appeared on The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party back in December 1993 where they won the award for best new act. Rumour has it – and this is just a rumour – that EYC were scheduled to perform in order to fill in for NKOTB who had been due to make their first live UK appearance since getting back together. However, the Boston boys had been asked to change some of the lyrics to their controversial new single Dirty Dawg, so they refused to perform and pulled out from the show. Enter EYC! Incidentally, there’s also another NKOTB connection as before they formed the band, both Damon and Trey were backing dancers for teen sensation Tiffany… when she supported the New Kids on tour!

While sat at home watching The Poll Winners Party, I wondered who these guys were. They were awesome! I liked their style, their moves, their vocals, their energy, their stage presence… and their song Feelin’ Alright wouldn’t leave my head! For guys who were relatively new to the scene, they arrived with an almighty bang! And at school the next day, EYC was all my classmates and I could talk about:
“OMG! Did you see those three guys?”
“Do you mean EYC?”
“Yeah, I did!”
“OMG, they’re so hot!”
“I like the blond one.”
“The one with the brown hair’s really cute.”
“When’s the single out?”
“What happened to New Kids? I thought they were performing?”

Trey Parker

Trey Parker

After that Damon, Dave and Trey were everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE! Their faces were on the covers of teen mags; you couldn’t watch Saturday morning TV without seeing the band; they regularly performed on Top Of The Pops and other music shows; they toured all over the world… In a nutshell, EYC were making it big! I specifically remember an interview the group gave to Smash Hits magazine in which the topic was… cola! One member of EYC said that he loved Coca-Cola, another said he preferred Pepsi, while Dave, bless him, said he’d never touch either – or any kind of fizzy drink for that matter – because it always made him feel as if his teeth were disintegrating! One thing I loved about EYC is that they really seemed to gel and they worked well together. You got the feeling that they weren’t just members of the same band – but that they were great friends as well.

Dave Loeffler

Dave Loeffler

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE GUYS

All-round entertainer Trey had worked in film, TV and musical theatre when he moved to California from Alabama in the hope of hitting the big time. There he met dancer Damon from Los Angeles, and the two hit it off and became firm friends. They both later became backing dancers for Tiffany.

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Trey then met Dave, who was also from LA, at a party and after introducing him to Damon, the three teenagers, drawn together by their love of music and dance, decided to form a group and began working on material. Thus EYC was born.

GETTING STARTED

Despite being so young when they started out, the trio knew that they wanted to have creative control and a say in what they did as a group, and were desperate to avoid falling into the manufactured band trap. They were lucky when they signed with MCA that they were allowed a say in their image, their sound, who they worked with etc. Industry puppets, they were not!

imagesLVQ57FL7 Their first album, Express Yourself Clearly was written and produced in a year.

THE FAME GAME

However, it was in 1993 that EYC really hit the big time – the same year they released their self-titled debut album and picked up a Smash Hits Poll Winners awards. In 1994, they toured Australia with Salt n’ Peppa. The following year, EYC opened up for Irish boy band, Boyzone, on their UK tour. They had also supported Prince and Whitney Houston, and even won an Australian Grammy. Furthermore, they came extremely close to touring with one of their idols, Michael Jackson, but turned down the opportunity to embark on their own international tour as the headline act. In addition, Dave bagged himself a girlfriend in the form of British then-model-now-presenter Lisa Snowdon. Lucky, lucky lady!

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It was also in 1995 that EYC released their second album Put It On. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well as their first album, Express Yourself Clearly. but they managed to get things back on track for a while when they recorded a Dr. Pepper commercial in 1996. After years of solid touring, writing and recording, Damon, Dave and Trey decided that they needed a little time out and to take things easy, which sadly meant that their fans saw a lot less of them. However, in 1999 EYC went back to doing what they did best and embarked on a national US tour; made appearances on Nickelodeon, and supported The Backstreet Boys – another American boy band who’d experienced success in Europe before cracking the market in their homeland; and crack it they did! EYC put out their third album, I Feel It, which was released in the United States only. The bad news for fans was that I Feel It turned out to be their final album, as EYC disbanded in 2002, when Trey, Damon and Dave decided to concentrate on separate projects.

The boys released seven singles and put out four albums. I actually received their debut single Feelin’ Alright as a Christmas present from a school friend who was also a massive fan. I’m actually surprised that despite all their success, their highest chart position was No.13 for Black Book. And I was shocked to realize that EYC hadn’t even scratched the surface of the American market. They only releases two singles there, where their highest chart position was N0.30 for This Thing Called Love. I vaguely remember reading a magazine article in which the band were interviewed and they revealed that they had not yet cracked America, deciding instead to concentrate on Europe first. I was stunned as I had assumed that they were already huge in their homeland, and being the kind of act that EYC were, I would have thought that the Americans would have been eating them up with a spoon. One explanation could be that during the early to mid nineties, the United States were grunge mad. Oh well, America’s loss was our gain.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW

They may have put away their baggy pants and stopped wearing their caps back-to-front but Damon, Dave and Trey are still involved in entertainment – the industry that they know and love.

Dave is now described as an entertainment mogul. He is a producer, promoter and co-manages Usher. He has also worked with Justin Bieber. He has also cut his long brown locks, opting for a much shorter style. Trey resumed his acting career and was also in a band called The MVPs. He is also the owner of an entertainment company, The LA Allstars, and has worked with artists such as Anastasia. Very little is known about Damon but after the group split, he had starred in some movies including Hairspray.  It is believed that he still works as a dancer and has appeared on Broadway. With so many bands making or attempting to make a comeback, it doesn’t seem likely that EYC will ever reform as they all seem to have moved on. But one can only live in hope. They really were an awesome band. eyc2 EYC-ya! RELATED LINKS: http://luxepearllife.com/2013/02/09/memorable-cuts-feelin-alright-by-eyc/ gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 

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It’s Dinky, It’s A Diary… It’s Dinky Diary!

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A friend and I had a wander around a book shop this afternoon when we stopped at the diaries that were on display. My friend picked one up and flicked through it, declaring that she’d never be dedicated enough to fill it in every day. Talk then turned to the diaries we used to keep when we were teenagers and the sort of things that we used to write in them. Yes, it was the usual teenage girl stuff, though by the sounds of it, hers sounded more angst-ridden than mine. It wasn’t that I had an idyllic life – I just chose to gloss over the not-so-great stuff!

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

But the conversation reminded me just how much I used to be into keeping a diary. There were some years where I was very good and managed to fill it in almost every day. Then there were years when there’d be nothing written after March! but I definitely had an addiction to diaries, and it was what I looked forward to at the end of every year. Even though I tended to buy myself diaries, I think there were a few years where I knew that one of the beautifully-wrapped gifts under the tree contained a book in which I would later write all my inner-most thoughts, courtesy of one of my friends who knew about my diary addiction. And one year I actually bought myself two diaries because I couldn’t choose between them – how’s that for an addiction?

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Today, I’m not sure that people keep diaries the way they used to. I used to manage a stationary shop and I’ve lost count of the number of organizer inserts and diaries that we had to reduce to almost nothing in order to get them out of the shop once we reached March. A lot of these would eventually end up getting binned. It’s hardly surprising – modern technology has made it so that we don’t need book-style diaries anymore. Our mobile phones perform all these kinds of functions and more making it unnecessary for us to buy a book to scribble down reminders and our thoughts. It’s a real shame because to me, using your mobile phone – as practical and convenient as it may be – it’s just not the same. I find it so impersonal. There’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper, and holding an actual book in your hand. I may be super old-fashioned but… you like what you like!

Image from journalbuddies.com

Image from journalbuddies.com

Why did I like diaries so much? Well, I liked the idea of having something to record my thoughts. I also knew that it was something that us girls did. I don’t recall ever having one with a lock (although I did want one!) but I didn’t wrap a hundred hair bands around it either – I kind of figured that that wasn’t going to stop anyone from breaking and entering! I also really liked the ‘extras’ that came with the diary. These were the additional pages that contained interesting and useful information. Some of the diaries I bought were typically aimed at girls, so there was information on diet, beauty, fashion, socialising etc. A diary for girls that I bought in the early ’90s by Letts, even contained weird and wonderful real life stories as well as self-defence tips. I loved it!

Image from apeekatparadise.com

Image from apeekatparadise.com

I also think that at the time I harboured ambitions about being the next Pepys. However when I look back, I really don’t think that there’s anything in them that would have made people want to read them five hundred years later. I remember at school, during a life skills class, one of my classmates revealed that although she kept a diary and wrote in it every day, she would throw it out once the year was over as she didn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding and reading them. I thought that was a terrible shame; after all in years to come it’ll serve as a reminder of your youth.

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Fast forward many years, and I think I may, just may have one diary lurking around somewhere. So I probably did the same as my classmate did and chucked them out. Or they somehow got lost. Within the last decade, I’ve probably received just a couple of diaries as gifts. I certainly don’t buy them for myself any more. And when I do have a diary, I’m more likely to jot down appointments and other reminders rather than pour out my heart and soul into it!

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Apart from the Letts Girls Diary, I had two other favourites. One looked more like a Filofax, the must-have accessory from the decade I remember too well – the 1980s. As well as space to record your thoughts, there was also a school planner, recipes, all kinds of useful information, and stickers which could be used throughout the diary. It was very brightly coloured and interesting.

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like - but with tons more colour! Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like – but with tons more colour!
Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

The second diary that I had was the fabulous Dinky Diary. This came out, I believe, at the end of the eighties, although I didn’t buy mine until the early nineties and it really was a craze among teenage girls. Dinky Diaries, which were made by an Australian company, were very brightly coloured and were available in hot pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple and possibly red. They were more like organizers than basic diaries. I remember mine being purple while my sister nabbed the hot pink one. It was like a fold out book with a thick, hardback magnet cover that opened up into 3 sections: one for notes, one for addresses and a journal. It was and we felt very grown-up as we carried this diary around with us as though we had an exorbitant amount of information to either jot down or be reminded of. I went to an all-girls school so it went without saying that just about every pupil had one, and they would often adorn our desks. Why they were never confiscated I don’t know as I’m sure we spent more time fussing around with them than we did paying attention to the teacher. I don’t think that Dinky Diaries or anything that closely resembles them are available any more which is such a shame because more than two decades on, I’m sure there’s a new generation of young girls who’d love them just as much as we did.

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it's very similar to the organizer I had. Image from pinterest.com

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it’s very similar to the organizer I had.
Image from pinterest.com

I was probably in my early twenties when I stopped using a diary. I’m not completely sure of the reason why. I don’t think I could be bothered to write in it at the end of every day – the adult world leaves you very little time for such pursuits. However, writing this post has made me think about keeping a diary again. I’m sure it won’t amount to me doing anything more than jotting down appointments and reminders, but if I find one for 2015 that I think is interesting, not overly business-like and unashamedly girly, I could be tempted…

RELATED LINKS:
http://lynleystace.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/on-keeping-a-diary/

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Video

10 TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To

I grew up watching a lot of TV and I do mean a lot! It’s strange because now, in comparison to my childhood years, I hardly watch TV at all. I put that down the fact that most shows today just aren’t as top quality as the programs I grew up. Yeah, I know – I’ve been accused of being biased many times!

However it’s not just the shows themselves that are memorable – the theme tunes and opening credits of many of this shows have made an impact and are equally unforgettable. So here’s my list of the TV theme tunes that we didn’t just like listening to but we sang along with as well.

1. NEIGHBOURS

Title:Neighbours

Composed By: Tony Hatch

Lyrics: Jackie Trent

Performed by: Barry Crocker

Year: 1985

I don’t care what anyone says – the Neighbours theme tune may have been revamped and jazzed up a million times, but for me, the original theme tune is undoubtedly the best.

Even now I get all nostalgic when I hear it. It reminds me of my childhood years; the early days of the Aussie soap, and a time when Neighbours was extremely addictive. Whether it sounds dated or not is debateable, but I think it has a certain charm and quality that the current one just doesn’t have. Sorry! Barry Crocker’s vocals suit the song perfectly. It makes you want to be good neighbours with your, er, neighbours!

The song was created by the legendary Hatch and Trent. Jackie Trent explained that the soap was originally going to be called Ramsay Street, but it was a little too close to Coronation street, which at the time 9and still is) Britain’s longest running soap. The song Jackie penned with her husband Tony was called Neighbours – which was the name that they eventually settled on for the soap. So the theme really did have a huge impact on the actual soap.

2.HOME AND AWAY

Title: Home And Away

Composed By: Mike Perjanic

Lyrics: Mike Perjanic

Performed by: Mark Williams and Karen Boddington

Year: 1987

Neighbours’ rival Aussie soap also had a fantastic theme song. It was a show about foster families and second chances, and the lyrics of the song fit in perfectly with the show’s concept. I stopped watching Home and Away a long time ago, mainly because it just wasn’t the same without Bobby, Pippa, Fisher and co. What I loved about the original were the vocals of Mark and Karen which were extremely powerful and full of emotion.

3. DIFFERENT STROKES

Title: It takes Diff’rent Strokes

Composed By: Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

Performed by: Alan Thicke

Year: 1978

This American sit-com was a huge family favourite, and was very popular when I was growing up. It was on television a lot when I was a child but I wasn’;t old enough to fully appreciate it. But I began watching Different Strokes again about a decade a go, and Arnold’s capers had me howling. And I fell in  love with that theme song all over again. Incidentally Alan Thicke, who composed the theme song, is the father of singer Robin Thicke.

What? You don’t like the song?

What you talking about, Willis?

4. ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES

Title: Only Fools And Horses and Hooky Street

Composed By: John Sullivan

Lyrics: John Sullivan

Performed by: John Sullivan

Year: 1982

It’s not just the show that’s iconic – the theme song is too. Well theme songs I should say as the opening and closing credits featured different songs. Only Fools And Horses was used for the opening credits, while Hooky Street was used for the closing.  The Beeb insisted on using a saxophone instrumental by Ronnie Hazelhurst for the credits of the first series. But when it came to the second series, the show’s creator, John Sullivan, put his foot down and told the BBC to use the theme songs he had created. And he was right to do so as both songs totally capture what the show’s about: Cockney wide-boys, wheeling and dealing, the market trade and selling hookey gear. For years I was convinced that it was Nicholas Lyndhurst -aka Rodders – who was singing the show’s theme songs but it wasn’t. Both songs feature the show’s creator, John Sullivan’s vocals. But the two sounded so similar, I was sure that there was a mistake in the credits and it really was Nicholas Lyndhurst.

5. FRIENDS

Title: I’ll Be There For You

Composed By: David Crane, Marta Kauffman, Michael Skloff, Allee Willis, Phil Solem, and David Wild

Performed by: The Rembrandts

Year:

Probably the most famous theme song in the world. It took six people to write this song, and it’s the only hit that The Rembrandts are famous for which seems a little sad, but then that’s their fault for co-creating a song so amazing that it was all the fans wanted to hear. The theme song was just under a minute long but a year later it was released as a three minute pop song. The video for the song features hilarious antics from the Friends cast.

6. GLADIATORS

Composed By: Muff Murfin

Year: 1992

Everyone at school was Gladiators crazy – and this was long before Russell Crowe came along! This contest which tested competitors sporting abilities was massive back in the early ’90s. We didn’t have X-Factor then – this was our Saturday night viewing. And the theme song did just the right job in getting you hyped up.

7. SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Title: Surprise, Surprise (original) and Life Is Full Of Surprises

Composed By:

Lyrics:

Performed by:

Year:

A show hosted by Cilla Black which was all about… surprises! It was a show in which ordinary, unsuspecting people were reunited with long-lost friends or relative, or were rewarded for some kind deed. I remember in one episode, I spotted an acquaintance in the audience as a member of her family was there to be ‘surprised.’ Cilla used to open and close the show by singing the theme songs. There were two theme tunes as I recall. The original one was slower and was written by Kate Robbins.There was a more fast paced one and a much slower one. After series eight, there was a new more up-tempo theme tune. I remember how kids at school used to change the lyrics of the slower theme song:

“Surprise, Surprise… you’ve got tomato ketchup between your eyes…” Oh those were the days!


8. THE GENERATION GAME

Composed By: Ronnie Hazlehurst

Performed by: Bruce Forsythe

Year: 1971-77, 1990-94

Oh how I loved this show! And how I miss it. Back in the early ’90s, Friday nights were Generation Game nights. I never got to watch The Generation Game when it was hosted by Bruce Forsythe and Anthea Redfern, or by Larry Grayson and Isla St. Clair. Bruce Forsythe was at the helm again with Rosemarie Ford when I started watching it. The theme tune as I knew it was a revamped version of the original tune. I know that I liked it, but I’m sure that viewers who watched the show first time around probably preferred the original.  I’ve  heard that it’s making a comeback with Miranda Hart as the host. I just hope that they keep that fantastic theme song.

9. BAYWATCH

Title: I’m Always Here

Composed By: Jimi Jamison, Cory Lerios, John D’Andrea and Joe Henry

Performed by: Jimi Jamison

Year: 1989

I’m sure that this theme is as familiar as the red swim wear that featured on the show. It’s probably up there with the Friends theme as the most easily recognised and well-known – even after all this time. The vocals were by Jimi Jamison of legendary rock outfit, Survivor.  At my friend’s hen party last year, the DJ actually played the Baywatch theme – cue much hilarious beach running antics!

10. THE LITTLEST HOBO

Title: maybe Tomorrow

Composed By: Terry Bush

Lyrics by: John Crossen

Performed by: Terry Bush

Year: 1979

I loved this Canadian show when I was growing up. It was about a dog who travelled from place to place, having adventures, and helping those in need. Great family entertainment. My mate Dave aka Pancake Lady, posted the lyrics from the theme on Facebook recently so I have her to thank for jogging my memory.

 

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