Good Neighbours: Eight Times the Iconic Soap and Its Stars Put Animal Rights in the Spotlight

Posted on by PETA Australia

After 37 glorious years, long-running TV soap Neighbours has come to an end!

Erinsborough has been home to an inordinate amount of drama over the past four decades, from fatal fires and kidnappings to extortion and murder – and some characters have starred in way more than their fair share. (We’re looking at you, Paul Robinson!)

But it’s the stories involving animals – on and off screen – that have had PETA hooked all these years. Here, we look back on some of the most memorable plotlines involving animals and times the soap’s stars partnered with PETA entities to show that Neighbours really do become good friends with animals.

Neighbours stars Tottie Goldsmith, Natalie Imbruglia and Imogen Bailey

On Screen: Susan Was Yet Another Victim of the Dairy Industry

In line with what we already know – that dairy does more harm than good – one plotline saw Susan Kennedy slip over in a puddle of spilled cows’ milk, resulting in retrograde amnesia.

Of course, there’s no saying Susan couldn’t have had the same accident with a plant-based milk, but if her fridge had been stocked with delicious oat milk, she would at least have ensured that calves aren’t ripped away from their mothers, as they are for dairy, while also helping the planet.

Compared to cows’ milk production, making oat milk uses 60% less energy and emits 80% less greenhouse gas.

Imogen Bailey poses on a stack of hay for a PETA anti-rodeo ad.

Off Screen: Imogen Bailey Called Out Rodeo Clowns

Beauty Imogen Bailey, who played Ramsay Street resident Nicola West, stood up for cows (and their babies) when she starred in a raunchy anti-rodeo ad for PETA Asia, declaring “No One Likes an 8-Second Ride”.

Shamefully, rodeos still take place across Australia, causing animals to incur catastrophic injuries and many of them to die. Some, like those used in calf roping, are just babies when full-grown men lasso them and slam them to the ground.

On Screen: Wild Dream Sequence Showed That All Animals Have Hope

PETA has always known that all animals – not just humans – dream of a better life, and Neighbours writers agree. In one “dream sequence”, Bouncer the Labrador envisioned frolicking among the flowers with his canine soulmate Rosie to the romantic sounds of a flute.

It’s not just dogs who have desires, though – all sentient beings have a sense of self and what they want from life. Australian scientists found that sheep mourn absent friends, seek out plants that make them well when they’re sick, and feel emotions such as love, loss, and jealously – all traits ignored by sectors such as the wool industry, which commodifies sheep in the millions.

Natalie Imbruglia poses with a rabbit. Text reads: Try telling him its just a little fur trim.

Off Screen: Natalie Imbruglia Spoke Up for Animals Whose Fur Is ‘Torn’ Out

Aussie songbird Natalie Imbruglia (who played betrayed wife Beth Brennan) spoke up for all the animals trapped on fur farms, who dream of a world without this cruel material.

While fur is on its way out, thanks to luxury designers like Versace, Prada, and Giorgio Armani ditching the fabric, animals are still suffering for it, all over the world.

Animals on fur farms endure short, miserable lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages before they are slaughtered by suffocation, electrocution, gassing, or poisoning.

On Screen: Ramsay Street Got Schooled in Speciesism (Even If They Didn’t Realise It)

Viewers got a double lesson in racism and speciesism when Julie Martin’s (played by Julie Mullins) dog, Holly, went missing overnight, and she outrageously accused her Chinese neighbour Jenny Lim (played by Diane Bakar-Coleclough) of barbecuing her.

Bad enough that Julie stormed over with one prejudice, but the fact that she was also fine with Jenny barbecuing any other animal shows her speciesism, which is prejudice or discrimination based on species.

Why love one and eat the other, Julie? Why?

Tottie Goldsmith poses with a dog for PETA.

Off Screen: Tottie Goldsmith Urged Animal Guardians to Desex Their Companions

As Margot Robbie’s mum in Neighbours, the seductive and wild Cassandra Freedman, Tottie Goldsmith had to play up to being “selfish”, but she was far from it in real life when she helped PETA spread the word about animal birth control.

Sterilised animals live longer, happier lives. Plus, making sure your companion doesn’t breed will help solve Australia’s overpopulation crisis.

On Screen: Duck Hunters Kill Yet Another Innocent Being

While gallantly protesting duck hunting, Harold’s daughter, Kerry Mangel (played by Linda Hartley), was hit by a stray bullet from a hunter’s gun and died.

This tragedy saw Kerry’s husband, Joe, lose his wife and his unborn baby and led the neighbours to do some soul searching on animal rights.

Kerry’s dad even proclaimed, “Nobody has the right to mistreat or hurt any animal.” Hear, hear, Harold!

Shockingly, PETA is still having to urge the Victorian government to end duck hunting.

Julian Cleary's PETA ad

Off Screen: Julian Clary Bared All for Bears

Speaking up for another species mercilessly hunted, comedian and novelist Julian Clary, who made a cameo appearance when the show filmed in London, stripped down to his bare skin in a protest for PETA UK against the use of bearskins for the Queen’s Guard’s fur hats.

Julian and his strategically placed teddy bear are in good company, as a dozen other stars, including Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, and Pamela Anderson, have joined PETA entities on this campaign.

Neighbours and its stars have, like PETA, certainly helped shine a light on animal issues, but there’s one thing the show and the above campaigns don’t have in common.

While we’re bidding adieu to Erinsborough, the campaigns mentioned here continue.

Now that Neighbours fans will have a free half hour to fill, why not use it to join the fight for animal rights?

Join PETA's Activist Network!