Last episode of Neighbours: behind the scenes
Herbison briefly considered all sorts of crazy possibilities — alien invasions, bomb blasts, dream cheats — to conclude. “I’ve always wanted to make a sinkhole, he admits, but At home and away went for one, which was a bit boring.
In the end, however, he realized what he felt most was a sense of responsibility. “I love this show, it was my favorite when I was a teenager, and I have a long, very long history with it, so I definitely feel a responsibility to end it in a way that respects the show and our viewers.
“Yes, it’s a TV show, but some people have watched it for 37 years. It’s really huge to have people in your living room for 37 years when there’s so much other stuff that we could do with our time.
Stefan Dennis was there the first day, when the show was owned by Seven (they scrapped it before the end of the year, and the following year, 1986, Ten took it over). He’s been away for 12 years, but he’ll also be here at the end, along with his resident villain character, Paul Robinson, who no doubt continues to unearth some kind of mischief.
What will Dennis miss most when it’s all over?
“What you’re witnessing today,” he says, sweeping his hand to soak up the general vibe of a shitty day in 12th grade. “The camaraderie, the laughs, the friendship, the greatest work in the world. It’s the people. Ultimately, without the people here, it’s a dead place.
Well, not quite. The Fremantle production company has a lease on the large red-brick studio complex and its surrounding park until December; already, the production of against the currenta new miniseries created by Herbison, moved in. Beyond that, who knows.
It was a factory, this studio complex in Nunawading (or Forest Hill, as rezoning has it now), pumping out an insane amount of content at a ridiculous rate, giving us stories, characters and performances of varying quality , gradually adapting to more accurately reflect the changing face of suburban Australia (hello gay couples, people of color and a transgender teenager).
The show has launched and/or supported an insane number of careers. The list still starts with Jason and Kylie, Guy and Delta and Margot, but push the memory banks and you’ll be amazed to recall the litany of names that have passed. Natalie Imbruglia, Radha Mitchell, Holly and Olympia Valance, Madeleine West, Daniel MacPherson, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Craig McLachlan, Brooke Satchwell, Peter O’Brien, Stephen Curry, Deborra-Lee Furness, Nicki Wendt, Luke Hemsworth, Kimberley Davies, Caitlin Stasey , Tony Briggs, Pia Miranda…they, and many more, all appeared on the show at or near the start of their careers. It was also a launching pad for writers, directors, producers, and countless crew members, and it could do just that because there was simply so much work to do.
The television landscape has changed so much over the past decade that a long-running drama like this is unlikely to emerge again. But you’d be crazy to rule out the possibility of Neighbors brand and all that it represents to take flight in another form, once the dust has settled.
It’s certainly a possibility that Herbison factored into his calculations when writing the finale.
“It leaves the door wide open, because who knows what will happen on the track,” he says. “It was important to me too that the public felt that life goes on on the streets.”
As for what’s in the finale, we know there’s a wedding and Guy Pearce’s Jason and Kylie and Mike are returning. Beyond that, however, details remain scarce.
“I think the ending is very warm and joyful and celebratory,” is all Herbison will say. “I’m just going to say it’s very Neighbors.”
The 90 minutes Neighbors The finale airs Thursday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. on the 10th.