Here’s What TV Soap ‘Neighbours’ Did for Animals in 37 Years
After 37 glorious years, the final episodes of long-running TV soap Neighbours air on Friday, 29 July.
From fatal fires and kidnappings to extortion and murder, Erinsborough’s seen it all – and some characters have had more than their fair share of drama. (We’re looking at you, Paul Robinson!)
But it’s the stories involving animals – on and off screen – that have had PETA hooked all these years. Here, we look back on some of the times that Neighbours really did become good friends with animals.
On Screen: Susan Was Yet Another Victim of the Dairy Industry
In line with what we already know – that dairy does more harm than good – one plotline saw Susan Kennedy slip over in a puddle of spilled cows’ milk, resulting in retrograde amnesia .
Of course, Susan could have had the same accident with a plant-based milk, but buying vegan would at least have ensured that calves weren’t ripped away from their mothers to produce it, as they are for dairy, and would also have helped the planet. Win-win!
Off Screen: Imogen Bailey Called Out Rodeo Clowns
Imogen Bailey, who played Ramsay Street resident Nicola West, stood up for cows in a raunchy anti-rodeo ad for PETA Asia, declaring “No One Likes an 8-Second Ride”.
Shamefully, rodeos still play out across Australia and other countries, causing countless animals to incur catastrophic, often fatal injuries. Nicola’s ad went down a storm and shone a spotlight on this un-neighbourly cruelty.
On Screen: Wild Dream Sequence Showed That All Animals Have Hope
PETA has always known that all animals dream of a better life, and Neighbours writers agreed. In one dream sequence, Bouncer the Labrador envisioned frolicking among the flowers with his canine soulmate Rosie to the romantic sounds of a flute.
It’s not just dogs who have desires – all sentient beings have a sense of self and what they want from life. Scientists found that sheep mourn absent friends, seek out plants that help when they’re sick, and feel emotions such as love, loss, and jealously – all traits ignored by the wool industry, which commodifies sheep by the millions. Thanks to Neighbours, animals’ feelings took centre stage.
Off Screen: Natalie Imbruglia Spoke Up for Animals Whose Fur Is ‘Torn’ Out
Aussie songbird Natalie Imbruglia (who played betrayed wife Beth Brennan) spoke up for all the animals trapped on fur farms.
While fur is on its way out, thanks to luxury designers like Versace, Prada, and Giorgio Armani ditching it, animals are still suffering and being farmed for their fur, enduring short, miserable lives in cramped, filthy wire cages before being gassed, electrocuted, or poisoned. Natalie’s support helped spread the word that fur is dead – and belongs on those born with it.
On Screen: Viewers Were Schooled in Speciesism (Even if They Didn’t Realise It)
Viewers got a double lesson in racism and speciesism when Julie Martin’s (played by Julie Mullins ) dog, Holly, went missing and she outrageously accused her Chinese neighbour Jenny Lim (played by Diane Bakar-Coleclough ) of barbecuing her .
Bad enough that Julie stormed over with one prejudice, but the fact that she was also fine with Jenny barbecuing any other animal shows her speciesism, which is prejudice or discrimination based on species.
Why love one and eat the other, Julie? Why?
Off Screen: Tottie Goldsmith Urged Animal Guardians to Sterilise Their Companions
As Margot Robbie’s mum in Neighbours, the seductive and wild Cassandra Freedman, Tottie Goldsmith had to play up being selfish , but she was far from it in real life when she helped PETA spread the word about animal birth control.
Every year, thousands of healthy cats and dogs are euthanised because there aren’t enough good homes for them. Tottie explained why we should always adopt, never shop, to help solve the homeless-animal crisis.
On Screen: Duck Hunters Kill Yet Another Innocent Being
While gallantly protesting duck hunting , Harold’s daughter, Kerry Mangel (played by Linda Hartley ), was killed by a stray bullet.
This tragedy saw Kerry’s husband, Joe, lose his wife and his unborn baby and led the neighbours to do some soul searching on animal rights.
Kerry’s dad even proclaimed, “Nobody has the right to mistreat or hurt any animal .” Hear, hear, Harold!
Shockingly, duck hunting still takes place in the UK and Australia. PETA is campaigning for an end to the cruel practice.
Off Screen: Julian Clary Bared All for Bears
Comedian and novelist Julian Clary, who made a cameo appearance on Neighbours when the show filmed in London, stripped off in a PETA advert to protest the use of slaughtered bears’ skins for the iconic Queen’s Guard’s caps.
Julian and his strategically placed teddy bear are in good company, as a dozen other stars, including Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, and Pamela Anderson, have supported this PETA campaign . Like Julian, no caring person wants a dead bear on their head.
How You Can Shine a Light on Animal Rights
Neighbours and its stars have, like PETA, helped shine a light on animal rights issues, but while the hit show is ending, PETA’s campaigning continues.
Find out how you can speak out for animal rights by joining our Action Team and visiting our Action Centre: