Home And Away (Seven, 1988-present)
It’s Australian soap time. When Seven dropped Neighbours after a short while, only to see it picked up by rival channel Ten where it became a big success, they began to regret the decision, and decided that it was about time to launch a new mainstream soap that would fill the gap. So after some thinking, Home And Away was created, and much to their relief it did become a hit.
The show was set in the fictional town of Summer Bay in New South Wales. It originally concentrated on the foster home that was run by Pippa and Tom Fletcher. They took in various children who were tearaways or orphans and so on. Of course, they would then move on and be replaced by some more youngsters. This meant that the main core of the cast could always be about 16 years old, meaning that the show would always appeal to teenagers.
So even though I watched it for a while, it probably isn’t a coincidence that I remember enjoying it most when I was in my mid-teens, and for about a year or two I did find the stories of characters including Shane, Angel, Shannon, Jack, and so on all rather interesting, I still remember them all these years later. This also meant that a pub wasn’t a regular feature, you’d be more likely to see people having a milkshake at The Bayside Diner.
There were a few older cast members of course, including Mr Fisher who was the headmaster of the local school, and Alf, who was very grumpy, and is the only character who has been there since the first episode (which is now over 30 years, a record for an Australian TV series). Home And Away was shown in a primetime slot in Australia, the theme music was performed by Karen Boddington and Mark Williams (not that one) and was released as a single in the UK in September 1989, where it reached No. 73.
The show came to ITV in an afternoon slot about a year after the launch in 1989, and the aim was clearly hoping that it would become their equivalent of Neighbours, even showing it twice a day. For a while it did succeed, with very good ratings, earning TV Times covers, and a few episodes were made on location in the UK. It’s a difficult choice to make, but this is among my favourite of the imported soaps from the 80s and 90s. There were also annuals released, along with a few classic episodes on DVD.
By 2000, ITV had been showing Home And Away for over a decade, and interest had begun to wane. It was then poached by Channel 5, who showed their first episode in July 2001, and it remains there to this day. There have now been over 7,000 episodes. There were also repeats on UK Living and ITV2, where some mid-90s episodes were shown around 2000 for some reason, but it was good seeing my favourite era again.