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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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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.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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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Bored Of Board Games? Never!

Christmas is about to descend on us very soon and for me nothing screams Christmas more than… board games! Or any sort of indoor games that can be played at the dining table actually. Why? Because until I reached my late teens, I was guaranteed at least one board game every Christmas. In fact one year I got nothing but board games – and some of them had been duplicated as well (that wasn’t a good year!) but my aunts and uncles knew I enjoyed playing such games with my siblings and it was the cause of many great bonding moments between me and my immediate family – and at times such as family gatherings, with my extended family too.

 

Kids today are still very much into games. But today’s games are often electrically-powered and need to be played via a screen of some kind while pressing a multitude of buttons. I’ve been told by those who consider themselves experts that it’s great fun. Maybe it is but I still prefer games that were ‘made in the days before electricity’ as my younger brother – and computer game addict- would say. Not only were those games thoroughly enjoyable but they had a social element which I feel that today’s games don’t have. Nothing beats having your family gathered around the table all shouting, screaming and laughing – and those are the ones who aren’t even playing!

Opening the box to a new board game was always an exciting moment. We loved checking out the board; looking the pieces; familiarising ourselves with the rules before trying it out for the first time. However, you can forget about the game being in a playable state a year later: most of the pieces would be missing and one of my younger siblings would have scribbled all over the board! Maybe that’s why we got so many of the same board games over the years…

So here’s a list of traditional games I have received, played and loved during Christmases past. Which reminds me, I really need to build up my board games collection again… even if I am the only one playing them!

1. SNAKES AND LADDERS.

Who hasn’t played a game of Snakes and Ladders? This was probably our most-received board game and let’s face it – you can’t go wrong with Snakes and Ladders! It might be simple enough in concept (roll the dice; make your move; drop down if you land on a snake; move up if you land on ladder) but it’s great fun and the game can continue for quite a long time.

My favourite version of this game which originated in India, is one that had a moral element to it. The design on the board focuses on children learning the moral consequences of their actions. The ladders represent good virtues such as hard work, generosity and kindness while the snakes represent vices like carelessness, extravagance and vanity. The top of the ladder or bottom of the snake show the consequences of such virtues or vices with the final square showing a child enjoying a reward. Not only is it fun but also educational (I personally feel there are a few people who could benefit from playing this!)

2. LUDO

Another game we’ve played a million times and boredom (or boardom even) has still not set in! Like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo originated in India and is based on a game called Pachisi. Unlike Snakes and Ladders which can have an unlimited number of players, Ludo is game played between 2-4 people although we tended to divide the people who wanted to play into four teams rather than individual players.

Ludo

Ludo

Each player (or team) is assigned a different colour and is given four counters. The objective of the game is to move all four of your counters around the board before making it ‘home’. The first person to get all four of their counters around the board is the winner.

As I have three siblings, this was the perfect game for us – and sometimes Mum joined in too. In fact I’m sure it was Mum who taught us how to play. We always had great fun playing  Ludo – until all the pieces started to go missing one by one…

3. GUESS WHO?

I probably played Guess Who? for the first time when I was about 7 – and I loved it. I think we must have received this game four times or more which is just as well considering we were forever losing the cards! A two-player game, you have to use your powers of deduction and memory, to find out who the mystery character on your opponent’s card is. You can ask questions only of the yes/no variety as part of the elimination process.

Guess Who? as I remember the game.

Guess Who? as I remember the game.

The game still exists but over the years it has undergone a bit of a revamp and characters now include pets as well as people. Furthermore you can also go online to download more characters. So glad that a new generation of players can still play Guess Who?

4. CLUEDO

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The Waddington’s murder-mystery themed board game known as Clue in North America was a huge hit in our household. We received two of these board games on two separate occasions and I remember around that time in the early 1990s, there was also a television series based on this popular board game, starring Jerry Hall as Miss Scarlett which we always used to watch. It was a very interesting and intriguing game which once again used powers of deduction and elimination.

The characters

The characters

The aim of the game is for six players to assume the identity of one of the game’s six colourfully named characters including Mrs. Peacock and Professor Plum and move around the board, representing the rooms of a mansion. They have to collect clues in order to deduce not only who murdered the victim, Dr. Black, but with which weapon and in what room.

The TV show

The TV show

Cluedo was great fun but if I’m honest we loved the show a little bit more because it had that much more drama!

5. SCRABBLE

A universal classic, who couldn’t love Scrabble? I was an avid bookworm who loved to write, create stories and learn new words, so my family knew that Scrabble was the game for me. Which explains why I received this board game many, many times. One year I received it three times, including the magnetic, travel version which I did use on a flight. Of course it was just as well that I was given so many sets of the same game as, you’ve guessed it, I kept losing the pieces!

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The objective of the game is for players to score points by placing tiles, bearing a single letter, onto a game board which is divided into a grid of squares. The tiles must form words – which must be defined in a standard dictionary –  which must flow from left to right in rows or downwards in columns.

This was without a doubt one of my favourite games and one which brought out my competitive streak and I have to say I’ve very rarely been beaten – but put me against a Scrabble champion and it might be a different story!

6. COMPENDIUM

We’ve received a compendium of games, again on more than one occasion. Anyone who thought of doing this was extremely clever because they were in fact buying us fifty games for the price of one! A compendium of games contained many well-loved, popular games including:

  • Chess
  • Ludo
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Draughts
  • Backgammon
  • Bingo
  • Dominoes
  • Noughts and Crosses
  • Solitaire
  • Tiddlywinks
  • Four-In-A-Row
  • Card games…

… and more! We had hours of fun but to be honest probably played about five out of the fifty games!

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7. BLOCKBUSTERS

“I’ll have a P, please Bob!”

Blockbusters. the ITV quiz show. Image from www.ukquizshows.com

Blockbusters. the ITV quiz show. Image from http://www.ukquizshows.com

Based on the well-known ITV quiz show hosted by the legendary Bob Holness, I was given the board game version of Blockbusters one Christmas. I had – and still have – a head for trivia so it was a great gift idea for me. I used to watch the long-running quiz show with my granddad and knew how the game worked in which contestants had to complete a line across a board of hexagons after successfully answering questions. I actually opened the box expecting to find an electric board with flashing lights (I was just a kid!) so naturally I was a bit disappointed that there was just a regular board with plastic pieces used to for a line.

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t a game that my siblings – or anyone else for that matter – wanted to play (probably too intellectual for them!) So I had to settle for answering the questions on the cards provided by myself!

8. CONNECT FOUR

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This game was a massive hit with my family, my dad in particular. Any Connect Four game we played was destined to be extremely loud and would go on for hours. We often got this game out at family parties and most people were only too willing to have a go.

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It’s a two-player game and the aim of the game is for each player to drop a disc into a vertically suspended grid and the first person to complete a row of four discs was the winner. Simple concept but huge amounts of fun – and noise!

9. DREAM PHONE

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This was a game my sister received one year which I was pleased about because I’d always wanted to play Dream Phone. It was similar to Guess Who? in that you had to use deduction and the process of elimination to figure out who the secret admirer is using clues obtained from the phone’s handset.

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The game looked great when it was being advertised on television and being a real girly-girl, it seemed perfect for me. But when I finally got to play it, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. I think it might have been more enjoyable had I been slightly younger and into make-believe – or slightly older and into boys! Though I’d still recommend Dream Phone as a great game to bring out girly get-togethers, sleepovers etc.

10. PERFECTION

I must have been really young when I received Perfection (the game sadly not the quality!) because I only vaguely remember playing this. The game consists of different shaped pieces which have to be pushed down into the correctly shaped holes on the board before the time limit runs out. When time runs out, the board springs up, causing many, if not all, of the pieces to fly out.

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I was a right slow coach as a kid which might explain why I remember pieces flying everywhere!

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Many of these games are still available having been revamped and given a new look for the twenty-first century. Even though an old fuddy-duddy like me wishes that they had left the original intact (it was fine as it was!) I’m glad that they are still around for a new generation of kids to experience. If only they’d leave that Wii alone!

 

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Toys and Games

 

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Dear John: Unforgettable… But Sadly Forgotten!

If ever there was a prize for the most underrated TV sitcom of all time, never mind gold, Dear John, would win platinum every time! Despite being the brainchild of the legendary John Sullivan, Dear John is something of a forgotten gem. Today, Dear John conjures up images of Channing Tatum’s bare torso but back in 1986 before anyone had even glimpsed such delights, it was compulsive Sunday evening viewing with a catchy, bittersweet theme tune.

 

The show’s title refers to break-up letters sent by girls to their soon-to-.be ex-boyfriends – although for years, I thought ‘Dear John’ letters got their name from the show! Middle aged and recently divorced school teacher, John Lacey, is the show’s reluctant hero forced to start his life over again after his wife runs off with his best friend. With his love rival taking residence in the former marital home with his family, John is forced to find lodgings in a dingy bedsit, where his encounters with his eccentric, elderly landlady, Mrs. Lemenski lead to moments of great hilarity.

However John’s unlikely saviour arrives in the form of a group for the divorced and separated: The 1-2-1 Club. Chaired by the overbearing Louise “Were there ever any sexual problems?” Williams, the club consists of a group of unhappy, lonely misfits: The frosty, thrice married Kate; geeky Ralph with the runaway wife; insecure Eric /Kirk St. Moritz; Sylvia with the irritating laugh and transvestite ex husband and quiet, dowdy Mrs. Arnott.

It’s understandable why viewers warmed to this comedy masterpiece from it’s very first episode. Sullivan incorporated the themes of loss, heartbreak and middle aged loneliness with great sensitivity and humour. There are many touching and poignant moments where we see the characters evolve and bond, being supportive of one another despite their flaws and differences. Ralph Bates was outstanding in his realistic portrayal as the too-damn-nice yet downtrodden John. There was something about his hangdog expression that made viewers feel genuine sympathy for his character’s plight. Viewers lived in hope of John overcoming his adversities and adversaries but sadly it was not to be as the sitcom was cancelled after two series due to Bates’ untimely death – although the American version endured a lot longer.

Watching episodes of the show in my adulthood has brought back a barrage of great memories and has been a real revelation of how great this sitcom is. Fashion aside, there is nothing dated about this show: the jokes are still funny; the characters are believable and the sensitive social issues are still in existence today. This comedy is proof of what great writing can achieve. Such a shame they don’t make sitcoms like this any more.

And yes, I will be splashing out on the DVD collection!

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Comedy Shows

 

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