Dr's Casebook: Neighbours – a TV soap that gave a great core message

Well, the final episode of Neighbours last Friday marked the end of an era.

Dr Keith Souter writes: There will be no more stories from the good neighbours of Ramsay Street.

The show first aired in the UK in 1986.

Back then it was on BBC One twice a day, at lunchtime and teatime.

Good relations with one’s neighbours seems to be good for one’s health.

I actually used to watch it at lunchtime between morning rounds and the first afternoon surgery.

I found it a great opportunity to switch off and relax for a while.

About 20 years ago I reported on research that suggested that babies born to mothers who had watched Neighbours settled down to sleep whenever the Neighbours theme tune was played, whereas those born to mothers who hadn’t watched it remained wakeful.

The suggestion was that the babies had learned in the womb that the tune was associated with a time to relax, because their mother had relaxed at lunchtime and put her feet up with a cup of tea.

Good relations with one’s neighbours seems to be good for one’s health.

People say that in days gone-by, communities seemed to be more together, more supportive.

But I would say that during the pandemic people have been neighbourly and looked after each other.

Perhaps that has something to do with the show, too.

During the pandemic with the change in working patterns, it became a staple for people working from home.

And with the reappearance of stars like Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce and Margot Robbie the viewing figures have soared again.

When I first started in practice, GPs were often called out in the middle of the night, often alerted by friends or neighbours about a particular case.

Back then, long before mobile phones, many households did not have landline telephones.

If I needed to admit someone to hospital it was not uncommon to either leave the house and find the nearest telephone box, or you went down the road to a friendly neighbour’s to borrow their telephone.

All this in the middle of the night and no one minded.

But there, I’m getting into anecdotage.

I’ll just finish by saying that not only was Neighbours a feel-good show, but it had a great core message of being a good neighbour.

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