♫ Neighbours … ♫
♫ Everybody needs good neighbours … ♫
♫ With a little understanding, you can find the perfect bleennnNN ♫
*cough* – that was always too high for me to sing.
In many pubs you’ll find a Trivial Pursuit missing a cheese (it’s not a wedge, or a pie or whatever else you think it’s called) full of questions that were already out of date by the mid ‘90s, a similarly incomplete collection of Jenga bricks that barely make a stack 4 high and a random assortment of other charity shop oddities.
What you may not find is a Neighbours board game gathering dust – but I did.
Neighbours is an Aussie soap, seemingly only created for the British market and really had its heyday in the 90s. In fact, it was this TV show that launched the careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and, erm, Holly Valance.
Anyone born before the millennium (never known as millennials) can badly sing the theme tune as I just attempted.
What a bizarre gem of a find. What’s more, this edition was created in 1987 and thus was full of all your favourite characters (or soon-to-be favourites if you haven’t heard of them before).
I can’t tell you how excited I was upon discovering that my friends and I would be crafting our very own Neighbours script featuring characters and actions such as “Bouncer the Dog”, “Secretly Marries” and “The boy next door”.
I want to tell you exactly how the very first few turns went.
Cheers around the table as our best loved Neighbours character lands on the table. What an exciting start to the episode (even more so as he was one of the only characters we could remember).
On a side note, the actor that played Harold Bishop wrote an infamous dream sequence for Bouncer the dog that can be seen here.
It’s heating up. The episode is opening with a 50-year-old man snogging away … and who will be the lucky lady?
“ooo … wait, WHO?”
We were excited but none of us actually remembered who Jamie Clarke was.
Still, an opening homoerotic scene was sure to excite the audience. We consulted the rule book for additional flavour.
“Jamie Clarke is the 3 year old son of Des Clarke. Shortly after his birth, Jamie suffers breathing problems, but recovers.”
Oh … oh dear.
The much loved Harold Bishop is having an intimate moment with this kid with breathing difficulties. This kid.
I’m not sure if this is what the makers intended, but sure enough Jamie Clarke became our trump card for every episode.
In subsequent games, he wore a sexy dress to the street party, skinny-dipped during a wedding and later would secretly marry our soap villain The Butcher.
Yeah that is a card that says “starts beating his wife”. Welcome to old misogynistic boardgames.
There are some rules to this game and in theory there is a winner, but we quickly threw all those out in favour of putting down the cards that made the best story.
This allows you to create more exciting scenarios alongside very mundane moments. Such as a moving the “Tips a bucket of water over…” card from between two characters into a sentence ender, turning a potential assault into a minor tantrum.
Very soon the characters we loved the most were not the shows beloved roster, but the extras. Characters so minor they are just a description of a person and not worthy of a name. That means beautiful heartfelt scenes like “The Girl Next Door” “Marries” “The Boy Next Door” end an episode.
Continuing this theme “The Butcher” became our key villain after murdering other minor characters as we sidelined our core cast in favour of Bouncer the dog, the old man that runs the shop and the milkman.
There is one rule we did add after removing virtually all of the others: at the end of every episode, whoever played the last card had to read out the entire script and then on cue we all had to sing the Neighbours theme tune as loudly as possible.
You might be surprised at the number of others who quickly join in if you do this in a pub.
If you wish to buy this game…well, tough. Funnily enough, it’s not in print anymore, but you might be able to find it on Ebay.
I later bought my own copy, which was the 1988 edition, but to my distress they had removed Jamie Clarke – presumably the publishers realised he probably wasn’t being used in the most PC of ways by players.
If you too end up with the ‘88 edition and decide to go to the pub I did not name to steal their Jamie Clarke card … you’re shit out of luck.
I’ve already done it.
EVERYBODY NEEDS GET NEIGHBOURS