Thursday, July 03, 2003
Mrs Mangel: the revival starts here
There was a time, in the late 1980s, when Neighbours was absolutely essential viewing for absolutely everyone in the whole world*.
We tuned in every day for three months to see if Des would notice that Daphne, as well as being in a coma, was also a poorly-dressed dummy. We prayed that Charlene would finally triumph over evil Sue Parker, that stickiest of sticky-beaks. And we secretly willed Gail to pack up her fabulous designer clothes ("exclusively provided by Kamisole") and leave Paul once and for all.
But most of all, we watched for Mrs Mangel. Vivean Gray's portrayal of the old boot was so splendid that, for many years after she left the series, she was unable to walk down the street without being heckled and booed like some common pantomime villain.
The best thing about Nel was that she disapproved of such a wide variety of things, including the portrait painting skills of Helen Daniels, Mike Young and his desire to do the Bad Thing to her grand-daughter Jane, and the various activities of her nemesis, Madge (who Mrs M hated so much that she deliberately played the organ badly at her wedding to Harold, just to piss her off).
So we're delighted to see that Neighbours casting supremo Jan Russ, who has been responsible for the hiring of such great actors as Kylie, Jason and that oddly attractive boy who played Rick, has finally realised that Neigbours needs a new Mrs Mangel-esque arch villain.
"It's that extra spice that Mrs Mangel brought that I want back," Jan told Inside Soap magazine.
We can only hope that they have learned their lesson from such ill-conceived fake Mrs Mangels as Auntie Dot, Dorothy Burke and Hilary Robinson, and that they actually get someone good this time.
*As far as we remember