Author: David Knox
Publish date: 2023-03-19 14:06:54
“I was told by the organiser at the London Palladium on the second performance of the show, they sold more merchandise than has ever been sold at a show the Palladium.,” Alan Fletcher tells TV Tonight.
“Box office breaking, the fans can’t get enough!”
Originally planned as a 35th Anniversary Tour in 2020, then a Farewell Tour for 2023, the Neighbours Celebration Tour is currently underway in the UK.
But cast members, overwhelmed by the response from true fans, are secretly calling it by another name.
“We’re actually kind of calling it the Gratitude Tour,” he continues.
“We feel like family with the fans we’re seeing. We have a very gentle level of fame here in the UK, where people see us as friends, literally as their neighbours. When they bump into us, it’s like they’re bumping into an old friend. The conversations we have are about their fond memories, moments and highlights in the show.
“Everywhere you go it’s a joyful conversation, and everyone wants to tell you about the time they visited Ramsay Street, the time they saw you at the Elephant & Wheelbarrow Neighbours night (in St. Kilda). There’ll be a photo on their phone we had together years and years ago. It’s just such a lovely, joyful thing.”
It’s also a massive road tour thing with the In Conversation show taking in 15 shows across the United Kingdom, from Belfast to Glasgow and London. Joining Fletcher are Jackie Woodburne, Stefan Dennis, Annie Jones, Ryan Moloney and April Rose Pengilly, with British host Leah Boleto.
“It’s been a whirlwind. We’ve done 10 shows now, travelled all over the UK, it’s been absolutely beautiful. The highlight being of course, the London Palladium, where we had two massive shows back to back. And we’re going back to do one more. It’s been an extraordinary outpouring of joy here in the UK for the return of Neighbours.”
Britain’s love of the 10 soap is not just long-lasting but unique in the way that fans see the show as integral to their daily routine, with twice-daily broadcasts available. When the axe fell last year there were petitions to halt its demise. It was enough for Amazon to greenlight a return through Freevee, and Prime Video in Australia.
“Some people would rush home from work to watch at lunchtime, and then go back to work. For others the whole family would watch it together at tea time, while they cooked their dinner. So it was a pattern in the people’s lives but when the show finished, the the outpouring of grief through my inbox and through everyone’s social media was mainly about the fact that a big hole had been created in people’s lives. We were like family,” Fletcher explains.
“In Australia it was only shown once a day, for a very long time shown at 6:30 in the evening, a time when people were traditionally watching news. So it had a different place in peoples’ mindsets.
Thank you, Edinburgh! Glasgow… you’re up next! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/QOFW0Qiacz
— Neighbours: The Celebration Tour (@LiveInConvo) March 9, 2023
“People talk about the fact that Neighbours was something they shared with a parent or grandparent who they’ve lost. So in a way Neighbours was their memory of the time they had with that loved one.
“When we do meet and greets it’s mothers and their children who come. They talk about how, as family, they watched the show together. It was a bonding experience. That’s probably, for me, the strongest aspect.”
There’s very little time for sightseeing during their road tour of shows, fan meets and press interviews, with cast travelling from city to city via a tour bus.
“Generally we travel on a day when we’re not working, although there are some days where we’ve had long travels and it goes straight to a show. So some of those days, are quite torrid. But generally we travel to a different city, book into our hotel, an early night before getting up the next day to go off and do the show,” he says.
“We meet up to 250 people before the show. So there’s hours of meet and greet and then we go into the show, finish the show, back to the hotel and then the next morning the alarms will go off and we’re back onto the bus. It’s a real, sort of, rock and roll tour from that point of view!
“It’s requiring a lot of stamina. Luckily, it’s one of those situations where the enthusiasm of the audience is so strong that gets us back up again.”
Fletcher will also stay on, with wife Jennifer Hansen, to perform his own music act The Point Album Tour. He will return to Melbourne for Neighbours: The Celebration Show in April.
“We’re going back to a lot of the places the tour has been to, or driving through them and doing some really lovely small towns like Selby, Settle, Leamington Spa, Worcester, …in the five weeks that we’re over here, Jen and I are visiting something in the order of about 30 towns, villages & cities,” Fletcher observes.
“Melbourne will be very different from the UK because we have the privilege of having Anne Charleston & Ian Smith, of course Neighbours’ royalty, providing insights that are quite unique, but also have the wonderful Tim Kano to provide a more recent perspective on the show along with April Rose Pengilly, and the wonderful Lucinda Cowden who is one of the funniest people you will ever meet.
“Hopefully we’ll get lots and lots of Aussies coming to Hamer Hall to celebrate the show the same way fans have here.”
Filming for Neighbours‘ third incarnation is expected to resume in April and screening on 10 and Prime Video later in 2023.
Author: David Knox
Publish date: 2023-03-19 14:06:54