We all hoped that 2021 would be less awful than 2021, but it only ended up being very slightly less awful, so I am insanely thankful to the soap gods for my daily dose of ridiculous Erinsborough escapism. There’s nothing quite like an episode of Neighbours to help me unwind after spending a day trying not to catch Covid in my terrible office. Typical that as soon as I’m working from home again, Neighbours goes on a break for Christmas…

Anyway, to show my appreciation for the world’s greatest soap, I’ve decided to give out some awards to the characters who deserve special recognition this year.

Bin Bag Award for Being the Biggest Trash Person

I’m not even going to pretend that there are any other real contenders for this award. It’s Paul. We all know it’s Paul. It could only ever be Paul – he is the biggest bin bag that ever graced the streets of Erinsborough. From buying actual human babies to emotionally manipulating his entire family, Paul has done it all this year. He tried to get his granddaughter’s boyfriend locked up in prison, he’s driven his alcoholic wife to fall off the wagon, he’s fallen out with Jane, who is one of his oldest friends, and he’s repeatedly interfered in his son’s business even though he said he wouldn’t. Here’s a handy little bit of advice for people who don’t want to be a trash person: if you have a private investigator on speed dial you probably need to stand back and take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. If ever we needed Bauble Jim Robinson to come back and tell Paul to mend his ways, it’s now. Where the heck is he this Christmas?

Where are you, Bauble Jim? © Channel 5 Source: Digital Spy

Honourable mention: Harlow. If Paul is a full blown wheelie bin bag, then Harlow is a swing bin liner. She’s undergone the most rapid transformation this year, from boring square to trash in training. She suddenly became some sort of business genius, despite still being a teenager who works in hotel housekeeping, and she was very enthusiastically on board with helping Paul to try to manipulate Terese into not hating his guts again. If she carries on this trajectory, she may well scoop the Bin Bag Award for herself next year.

The Tangled Knot Award for the Most Complicated Love Life

Romance is always a complicated affair on Ramsay Street, but there’s a sure fire way to make things more complicated, and that’s to get yourself an extra boyfriend. But I’m not giving the Tangled Knot Award just to Amy alone, as she is very much a buy one, get two free situation these days, so the award goes jointly to Amy, Ned and Levi. Dear god this whole thing is a mess. I’m all for people getting on board the polyamory train because, hey, why not? You do you, and there’s room for relationships of all shapes and sizes in this world, but in order for polyamory to work there needs to be absolute honesty and very clear communication from all parties. Jealousy needs to be dealt with, not left to fester. Bless them, they’ve tried, but they’ve failed pretty miserably to navigate their way through this new situation without getting themselves in a complicated mess. I’m no romance expert, and I’m certainly not an authority on polyamory, but if one of your boyfriends crashes your date with your other boyfriend in some sort of weird attempt to get you to dump him and choose you instead, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Best of luck to these three misguided fools in 2022.

The Worst Taste in Partners Award

For me, there can only be one winner of this award in 2021, and that’s Toadie. In a year where Toadie got himself in a muddle trying to choose between two of the most annoying women ever to grace the Lassiters complex, he is the clear choice. Thankfully we got rid of Rose, with her sickly sweet voice and horrible fur bolero, but we’re still lumped with the unhinged, kaftan-wearing crackpot that is Melanie. From dumping big piles of poo on people’s driveways, to pretending that she can speak to a small child’s dead mother via a crystal ball, Melanie has shown herself to be an absolute loose cannon and general menace this year. I really would like her to go away now.

Honourable mention: Chloe for only having a romantic interest in people who she has a family connection to, such as her brother-in-law’s twin, or the mother of her brother’s baby.

Ugh. Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy

The Elly Conway Worst at Making Decisions Award

This one is such a tough one because there are a lot of contenders this year. Fittingly the first person up for this award is a relative of its namesake, Karl. If we cast our minds back to the whole Finn book exposé storyline, Karl simply couldn’t stop incriminating himself when his arch-enemy Olivia “fell” down the stairs. He really did everything he possibly could to look guilty, it was just one bad decision after the other.

Next up as a nominee is Roxy, who is never particularly great at making decisions, but she really excelled herself when she decided to forage for mushrooms and unwittingly poisoned one of the restaurant judges from the Best Dish Award, or whatever it was called.

Hendrix also made some pretty poor decisions earlier on the year, which bizarrely ended with Harlow getting kidnapped and Shane getting shot by a pizza oven.

But honestly, I think the winner of this one has to be Ned. His life is nothing but a series of bad decisions. If he’s not quitting his job impulsively, he’s selling weird naked pictures of himself on Fandangle, starting an affair with his boss at the art gallery or getting himself into the world’s most complicated love triangle. Have a day off, Ned.

Ned making one of his many terrible decisions. Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy

Honourable mention: Nicolette, for taking a baby from a woman with post-natal depression, selling it to Paul Robinson and expecting her plan to go swimmingly.

The Stupidest Accident Award

There are always a few strange mishaps on Neighbours, like Jane falling off a ladder trying to reach for a streamer the other week, but there can really only be one winner for me this year, and that’s when Shane got shot by a pizza oven. I’m aware that a pizza oven is not sentient and cannot fire a gun at will, but there really is no other way of explaining it. It was right in the middle of Hendrix’s spiral into gambling debt, loans and other chaos and (I forget the specifics of why and how this happened), he stashed a gun in the Kennedy’s pizza oven. Karl then turned it on and the gun heated up and shot Shane. It is one of the most spectacular incidents there has ever been on Neighbours, and that is saying something, considering that last year’s winner of this award involved a gnome and a barbecue.

It was the pizza oven, in the garden with the revolver. Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy.

The Congeniality Award

Pageants always award a Miss Congeniality prize, and I’m going to do the same, only I’ve made mine gender neutral because I’m giving it to Hendrix. He’s been brilliant this year, and I really enjoy every time he gets to stretch his comedy muscles for one of the silly storylines, particularly anything involving Karl. I would seriously watch a spin-off set in the Kennedy house, there doesn’t even need to be stories as such – just Karl being annoying, Susan giving him withering looks and Hendrix simply having to deal with the pair of them. Maybe they could do another web series.

The Chaotic King Award for the Best Value Character

Yes, okay, I’ll admit it. I made up this award category just so I could give it to Mick/Michel because I love him. I’m really desperate for him to become a permanent character. Perhaps I should start a social media campaign…

Gone but not forgotten, farewell Michel, our chaotic king. Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy