I’m an eighties kid, and I started watching Neighbours way back in the early days – I think my first ever episode was when Des and Daphne got married, so I was familiar with the character of Clive Gibbons, played by Geoff Paine, who moved into Ramsay Street back in 1986. He was an amiable, slightly eccentric character – a trained doctor who had abandoned medicine and made a living from being a gorillagram.
This year Clive rejoined the cast, and I am always happy to see an old face return to Erinsborough, so I was excited to welcome Clive back to Ramsay Street. It wasn’t long before he struck up a relationship with Sheila, and after a false start they are now going strong.
The Neighbours writers do enjoy having a little bit of saucy fun with their story lines, keeping it just clean enough for a tea-time soap. We’ve had Dipi and Shane’s roleplay, the baffling and unidentifiable accent Sonya uses when she’s trying to get Toadie in the mood and, of course, the unseen horrors contained within Karl and Susan’s blue box. Lately it’s fallen to Sheila and Clive to provide us with a little bit of Carry On humor. There was the afternoon that Clive spent helping Sheila revise for her exams by doing a bit of strip revision, which was all going swimmingly, until Xanthe walked in just as Clive dispensed with his boxers. Cue lots of horrified expressions and jokes about Clive’s buns.
Slightly less saucy was the time that Sheila tried to prove her devotion to Clive by dressing as a gorilla to surprise him, as a nod to his days as a gorillagram. The terrified expression on Clive’s face as he was confronted by a gorilla wandering around the Lassiters complex will be something that I will think about to cheer myself up for years to come. Of course he freaked out and bopped Sheila on the head with his briefcase, in a bit of classic Neighbours slapstick.
Last week Neighbours reached what I think was possibly peak innuendo in a story about Clive’s performance in the bedroom. Listening to a bunch of characters discussing how best to tackle Clive’s erectile dysfunction without using any of the key words was one of the most glorious things in Neighbours history. I wonder if the writers have a big book of euphemisms they turn to in situations like this, because we pretty much had them all. Talk of “rising to the occasion” and other family-friendly terms went on for almost two weeks – just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be any euphemisms they hadn’t used they’d come up with a slew of new ones. On top of that, there was the heavy inference that Dipi was performing the role of Clive’s fluffer before each of his encounters with Sheila. Of course this turned out not to be the case, with Dipi merely giving Clive a special brew of tea that helped initiate the launch sequence (even I’m at it with the euphemisms now), and the final twist in this story line was the fact that Dipi had been secretly slipping the tea to Shane for years as a preventative measure.
Obviously Clive and Sheila discussed their problems with pretty much the entire street, which is of course what most normal people would do if they were struggling with embarrassing sexual performance issues. My personal highlight was Sheila’s conversation with Paul, using a salt and pepper shaker as a substitute for Sheila and Clive, with plenty of references to grinding. Paul visibly trying not to gag was absolutely priceless.
This story line might not quite have reached the heady heights of that episode where everyone was making filthy jokes with fruit for no discernible reason, or the time that we were lead to believe that Courtney was giving all the men on the street massages with a happy ending, but it was a lot of fun – Neighbours at its silly best. I hope it’s not too long before the writers have to get out their encyclopedia of euphemisms again.