You have to realise, Kit, that a writer can learn from any fiction, good or bad. It shows you what mistakes to avoid in your own writing – caricatures, poor plotting, unconvincing dialogue. Watching Neighbours is educative. You don’t think I watch it for entertainment do you?
I really haven’t known him long enough to tell him the truth: that Neighbours is fab, that I love all the stupid plotlines – the amnesia, disputed paternity, blackmail, on-off love affairs, business wars, mistaken identities, manipulative ex-girlfriends, violent ex-boyfriends, people stuck down mine shafts, plane crashes that kill off half the street. And the characters – Paul Robinson, Karl Kennedy, Lucas, Jade – they’re like family. One day I’ll confess to him, but not just yet.
Yesterday I realised why I, Sue Hepworth, like Neighbours. It is fiction as defined by Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest. “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
It doesn’t matter how dastardly are the plots of the villains, you know they are always, always going to get their come-uppance, so you can enjoy the ride with a happy heart. It is so unlike real life where evil goes on all the time and there is nothing good people can do to stop it; where general elections are run by Westminster and the media and the people don’t get a look in; where you can vote for the candidate who shares your vision but you know they cannot possibly be elected. (ooh, politics alert – this is a politics free zone.)
At present in Neighbours we have an internationally renowned cancer specialist telling the resident villain (Paul Robinson, my favourite character) that he has leukaemia, and personally treating him with chemotherapy. And it is all a lie. Paul Robinson is not ill. It is just a plot so that the visiting villain can get what he wants – a new cancer research centre. It is hilarious! It is totally ludicrous and wonderful and we know full well that the doughty nurse Georgia (who has been framed by the visiting villain) will somehow uncover this scam and be reinstated at the hospital. And Paul will recover and carry on being the (cosy) resident villain.
It’s an escape from the real world. And I love it! So bite me.