Life & Culture

Jewish comedy writer helping Neighbours fans get their fix of soap with new podcast

Leaving Erinsborough has attracted celebrity guests including Neighbours actor Lucinda Cowden and script producer Shane Isheev


As regular readers of the JC may know, I’m a self-declared Neighbours geek, and have been for the best part of four decades. Last year, I wrote a piece that was effectively a love letter to the Australian soap when it was announced it was ending after 38 seasons.

The show has now been rescued by Amazon with a new series streaming daily from next week — but back in February 2022, I was gutted. The day after what we thought was the final episode aired, and desperate to fill the Neighbours-shaped void in my life, I resolved to to rewatch the soap from the first episode. And, it turned out, I wasn’t alone. Enter:  Leaving Erinsborough, the Neighbours Rewatch podcast from the very beginning.

“I started watching Neighbours when I was a kid,” says the podcast’s creator, Jewish comedy writer, Sara Gibbs. “My de facto godparents were big fans and I used to go to their house after school and watch it with them. I fell in love with it straight away, but we didn’t have a TV at home at that time so when they weren’t around, I just used to turn up at my actual neighbours’ houses and ask to come in and watch it!”

When Neighbours ended Sara was “grief-stricken”, and made a spur of the moment decision to start the podcast.

“If I’d given it any real consideration, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” she muses, “because I realised quite early on that with nearly 9000 episodes to cover, I could be doing this until I’m at least 80!”

A year and a bit and and some 20 episodes later, Leaving Erinsborough has nearly 1000 followers across its various social media platforms and has attracted celebrity guests such as Neighbours actor Lucinda Cowden and script producer Shane Isheev. And Orthodox stand-up comedian and writer Rachel Creeger regularly co-hosts the programme.

Like Sara, Rachel is a long-time Neighbours fan, having watched it since its debut episode on the BBC, in 1986. Since then, she’s barely missed any — and still hasn’t quite forgiven her mum for refusing to record it daily during her gap year.

“My family were big Eastenders fans,” she recalls, “so it always felt a bit weird that there was a rival soap I liked more, but I was always drawn to it.”

Sara and Rachel first met in 2020, when Sara featured on Jew Talkin’ to me?, the podcast that Rachel co-hosts with Philip Simon. The pair hit it off, and from their comedy to their neurodiversity, found they had a lot in common including, of course, a shared love of Neighbours. When Rachel’s guest appearance was a hit with the podcast’s subscribers Sara invited her back as a  presenter.

“My initial plan was to have a different guest for each episode, but I’m autistic — I soon realised that I don’t want to have to make conversation with new people every fortnight,” she laughs. “And Rachel and I have a lot to chat about.”

With two Jewish co-hosts, Leaving Erinsborough has quite a Jewish flavour. The hosts sprinkle the programme with Yiddishisms and although the soap has only featured one — poorly drawn, alas  — Jewish character in its 38-year history, they say it has strong Jewish themes. “At its heart Neighbours is about families and that includes the close relationships that spin off, down the generations,” explains Rachel. “That’s a very Jewish concept I think; we’re all about our ancestry, our DNA, who’s related to who.”

Of course, the Neighbours character with possibly the greatest yichus of all time is Charlene Robinson née Ramsay, played by Kylie Minogue. In the last episode of the  podcast, Sara and Rachel hit episode 234 and Charlene’arrival on Ramsay Street. And having reached that significant moment in the programme’s history, they have no plans to halt their rewatch — despite the show’s reboot.

“The Kylie and Jason era is so iconic,” comments Sara. “There’ll be a lot of nostalgia that listeners can identify with, and I think it will tie in well with the return of Neighbours.”

Leaving Erinsborough certainly soothed the Neighbours-shaped hole in my life when the soap had apparently ended. I too will continue to tune in to the podcast, not least in the hope that it will prompt the folks in Melbourne to realise that we Jews deserve a proper home on Ramsay Street. (Note to producers: I’m more than happy to offer my services as a senstivity reader in order that any Jewish characters you introduce are more realistic this time).

Shtetl of Erinsborough, watch out: we’re on our way.

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