Monday, 12 January 2015

The Perfect Blend: Corrie vs. Neighbours


This March marks 30 years since Aussie soap Neighbours was first broadcast. And as well as being a fan of Corrie, I'm also a fan of Neighbours and have been since 2008 although it had featured in my life for years before then. I think I like Neighbours because it's very similar to Corrie in that it mixes drama and comedy and has produced some memorable characters and moments. Let's compare and contrast the two soaps that have equally become part of British culture in their own ways:

Location: 

The only thing that's common with the soaps' locations is that they both begin with 'M': Manchester and Melbourne! While Manchester and Weatherfield lack the exoticism and sun-kissed scenes of Melbourne and Erinsborough, Coronation Street and Ramsay Street are very similar. There is a community spirit there and the neighbours come together in times of crisis. Okay, there aren't any driveways or balconies on the cobbles, but that's just a technicality isn't it?

Local businesses:

Like Corrie, the local businesses play a vital role in Neighbours. While the Rovers, Corner Shop and Kabin have never changed their names over the years, Neighbours has often changed the names of the local pub or shops. You could say that Neighbours eras can be separated into when the name of the pub changes - from the Waterhole to Chez Cher or Lou's Place to Charlie's. And there's the cafe that has a mix of Roy's Rolls, the Kabin and the Corner Shop. As well as serving cappucinos and milkshakes, it also sells newspapers and groceries. Turning Underworld into a hotel and Corrie could have its own Lassiters!

Age demographic:

The main difference between the two soaps is the age demographic of the cast. This was one of the main reasons of Neighbours' popularity when it began - it had a younger and fresher feel that hadn't been done before in soap. While Brookside and Eastenders had challenged Corrie's social portrayal of life effectively, the age of the cast hadn't been addressed. It wasn't until 1997 that Corrie started having the younger cast being the stars of the show. Corrie had younger characters before but they were portrayed as being much older than they actually were and took a back seat. I'm happy now that the average age of Corrie is starting to rise again. It had become too dependent on younger characters to carry characters but I don't think we'll ever see characters in their 50s becoming top of the bill!

While Neighbours has always had an interchangeable younger cast, it is the older characters that we really remember: Helen Daniels, Jim Robinson, Madge and Harold, Mrs Mangel, Lou and the Kennedys. They are the constant thread through the changing cast.

The women:

Like Corrie, Neighbours has always had strong women - from matriarchs to gossips. They aren't just middle class housewives - they've been businesswomen, teachers, managers and are independent from their husbands. You just have to think about classic Corrie women who've been independent and strong - Elsie, Bet, Rita, Vera, Gal, Denise, Alma, Carla and Liz. One achievement Reg Watson, the creator of Neighbours, did was portray a mother in law who was against the stereotype. Helen Daniels, played wonderfully by Anne Haddy, was the matriarch of the Robinson family but never interfered, just counselled. That aspect of the matriarch has always been a strong presence in Neighbours with the current holders being Susan Kennedy and Sheila Canning. 

The men:

Here is the main difference between the two soaps. The men of Ramsay Street have traditionally been well-groomed, professional and pillars of the community. Jim Robinson, Doug Willis, Karl Kennedy, Harold Bishop, Lou Carpenter, Philip Martin, Toadie Rebecchi and Paul Robinson over the years have been patriarchs of the street and are keen family men. While in Corrie, when we think of men, we think of the layabouts like Stan Ogden and Jack Duckworth, although there have been the rare professionals like Ken, Alf, Roy and Mike. But Corrie men have always been henpecked and it is mainly the women that we remember.

Theme tune:

Both soaps have been fortunate that they have iconic theme tunes. While Corrie has the northern sound of  a brass band, Neighbours has its cheery theme tune, the most iconic being Barry Crocker's between 1985 and 1992. 

Magic moments:

Like Corrie, Neighbours has had its fair of iconic moments. The ones that spring to mind include Harold falling off the rocks and going missing for 5 years; Susan confronting Karl over his various affairs; Paul Robinson being pushed off a balcony; and then how can we forget that wedding - Scott and Charlene in 1987! 

So I've compared both soaps. Can you think of any thing else? Are there any fans of Corrie who are also fans of Neighbours who visit this blog perhaps?

Happy Birthday Neighbours!

by Llifon

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Patrea Smallacombe who wrote for Corrie in the 1990s was a writer for Neighbours in the eighties.

Martin Leay said...

Neighbours is my "second soap" - it was on the TV in our house pretty soon after it started in the UK. Like many, I grew up with it (every night after school - with tea) and it was staple student viewing at Uni. I fell out of the habit for a good 10 years but have got back into it recently. It's great - it doesn't take itself too seriously, has some strong storylines but also some ridiculous moments, which are all good fun. The plot moves on really quickly too.

Another link between the two - remember when Hannah Martin turned up in the Rovers as an Aussie Backpacker in the early 2000s and briefly lodged at Les Battersby's?

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