So, this is it. We’ve had the news that we were all dreading – Neighbours will cease production this year after the producers failed to find a new broadcast partner. I’m so, so sad about this. Neighbours is a cultural icon and having watched it since 1987, and it’s almost a member of my family at this point. What makes this even more sad is that recently it has been so good, like this last week of UK episodes, for instance. Wednesday’s episode was particularly good, but more on that later on in the round-up.

Dean Causes Trouble

I knew David’s friend, Dean, was going to be in trouble as soon as I set eyes on his moustache. No shade on anyone who happens to have one (I sometimes do if I’m lax with my plucking regime), but Dean’s is a particularly distressing specimen, and it made me think immediately that he couldn’t be trusted. And it seems I’m right because his appearance at the party stirs up some drama between Aaron and David. Aaron finds out that David has been confiding in Dean about their personal problems, and he’s unhappy that David is discussing their private business with someone he doesn’t know. I’m struggling to see Aaron’s point of view with this one because everyone vents to their friends, whether they know the people you’re venting about or not. And would it be better if David confided in someone Aaron did know? Somehow it seems worse to me that one of your neighbours might know all the nitty-gritty about your marital troubles.

When Aaron finds out that Dean has been giving books to David with little handwritten notes inside them, he goes ballistic, telling David that he can’t be friends with Dean anymore. He’s just realising that telling his husband who he can and can’t be friends with is out of order when he spots David and Dean talking outside the hospital and then has a fairly unconvincing scuffle with Dean. OK, so Dean clearly has a crush on David, but that isn’t David’s fault. As long as David isn’t misleading him or cheating on Aaron, then David has done nothing wrong. As much as it pains me to agree with someone who sports a very bad moustache, Dean is right when he says that Aaron is being a neanderthal.

Karl Out-Karls Himself

Chloe’s housewarming party ends hilariously when Karl really outdoes himself by swiping a load of food from the party, taking it home, and then calling the police with a noise complaint, so the party gets shut down. As someone who loves food but hates parties, I am giving Karl a big round of applause for such iconic behaviour. Who wouldn’t want to duck home with a plate of free Iceland party food and be tucked up in bed at a polite hour, with no loud music to disturb them? I disagree with Susan. Karl hasn’t lost his mind. He’s an absolute genius.

Roxy Uses a Really Awful Visual Analogy

Roxy has decided that she and Kyle are going to go full steam ahead with their plan to have a baby, and the word “insemination” was used more times in one episode than I ever thought I’d hear on a daytime soap. The most notable part of this quite minor storyline is that she invites Terese around to witness her telling Kyle that they’re going to try for a baby, using one of the worst visual aids in the history of humans – a boiled egg and some really heinous-looking fish. I mean, all fish is heinous-looking to me, but these were particularly retch-inducing. I’m guessing it was supposed to represent her eggs and Kyle’s sperm, but it really is the weirdest and most convoluted way of telling someone that you’d like to start fertility treatment. Congratulations, here are two of the most obnoxious-smelling foods I could find, all on one plate! Let’s start making babies! So, so weird.

The School is On Fire (Again)

I’m unsure how many times Erinsborough High has been on fire, but it must be into double figures by now. Zara finally realises that her nasty little friends, Crabbe and Goyle, aren’t actually her friends at all – they’re trying to frame her for arson and get her sent way to Cairns. Surely it would have been way less effort for them to just say they didn’t want to be friends with her, but this is Neighbours, and nobody ever acts in a rational manner, so instead, they start a fire in the art wing. Mackenzie has started to put it together that Zara might not be responsible for all the fires, and she goes to find Zara, and the two of them become trapped in the school. This is when Zara starts channeling her inner John McClane and crawls off into the air ducts to get help.

Yippee-ki-yay. Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy

Once she’s outside, nobody will believe that she didn’t start the fire, and they’re all too busy arguing about it to stop Hendrix from running inside to find Mackenzie, who is unable to get into the air ducts because of her broken arm. Hendrix just makes matters worse by getting himself and a semi-conscious and essentially one-armed Mackenzie trapped in the vents, but luckily a very patient firefighter comes and rescues them. Did nobody give Hendrix a telling-off for this? If he’d had just left Mackenzie where she was, it would have been way easier for the firefighters, and they knew exactly where she was before he dragged her into a cramped metal tunnel full of smoke. What a moron. Irrational behaviour aside, the episode where all this came to a head was absolutely brilliant, genuinely top-notch TV.

Zara Does a Runner

Zara is arrested and charged with arson, and Toadie shows his usual lack of understanding of anything legal, agreeing to be her legal representative despite the conflict of interests, which even Zara has more of a grasp of than he has. Later on, Amy finds that Zara has packed a bag of clothes and left, and Toadie asks, “You don’t think she’s done a runner?” No, Toad, she’s gone down the laundrette to put a load on. For a lawyer, he is remarkably bad at interpreting evidence, isn’t he?

The whole neighbourhood gets together to try to find her, and meanwhile, Hendrix manages to get either Crabbe or Goyle, I’m not sure which is which, to confess to the fact that they were the ones who started the fires. So Zara’s charges will be dropped, but they need to find her first.

Photo: © Channel 5. Source: Digital Spy

Jane Has Had An Empathy and Self-Awareness Bypass

One of the best moments of the fire episode was Jane kicking the art room door in with her sensible shoes, but that’s where Jane stopped being cool and started to be an absolute shovel. She’s been hellbent on villainising Zara, acting like some sort of teacher version of Matthew Hopkins pursuing Zara as if she were a woman with a pet cat and a boil on her chin. She has refused to listen to a single word in defense of Zara and has the nerve to give Amy a dressing down for her failings as a mother. It takes Nicolette to point out to her that if Amy is such a bad mother because of Zara’s choices, then what does that make her? Because let’s not forget that Nicolette stole a dead man’s lottery ticket and sold someone else’s baby to Paul Robinson. Even after Nicolette has said this, Jane still can’t seem to find any empathy for Zara or even an ounce of self-awareness. It isn’t until she finds out that Zara is innocent that she starts behaving with a bit of compassion again.

Even when she finds the troubled teen later, the line she chooses to go with when Zara asks why Hendrix helped her is that he’s a good person and, “I suppose he believes that you’re a good person too, despite your mistakes.” I think there’s a compliment in there somewhere. Jesus Jane, maybe be a bit more positive? But, it’s safe to say that when the school inevitably burns down for good and she’s out of a job, she won’t be having a career change and becoming a motivational speaker any time soon…