Neighbours is celebrating its 35th anniversary with its first-ever lesbian wedding

Neighbours celebrates 35th anniversary with first-ever lesbian wedding

The long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours is celebrating its 35th anniversary with the show’s first ever lesbian wedding.

The special episode next week will see Sky Mangel and Lana Crawford get hitched, and there will be lots of familiar faces returning for the occasion.

Bridget Neval, who played Lana Crawford between 2004 and 2005, will be reunited with her co-star Stephanie McIntosh, who left the famous street back in 2007. Neval has now retired from acting but said she “couldn’t say no” to the wedding.

“When the producer of Neighbours, Jason Herbison, rang me and told me that he wanted to finally have Lana end up with her dream girl… I couldn’t say no,” she wrote on Instagram. “Tune into Neighbours to see Sky and Lana get hitched… without a hitch? Ahahaha of course not. Boring!”

She promises viewers lots of drama, cold feet, unexpected exes “and an explosion or two”.

Lana was the show’s first lesbian character, and 15 years ago she and Sky shared Neighbours’ first lesbian kiss – a groundbreaking moment in 2004.

“While we did get a lot of support in 2004 around the Sky and Lana relationship, it also created some controversy as well,” McIntosh told the Radio Times. “So it’s refreshing that a same-sex relationship is no longer something out of the ordinary, there is no fuss around it.”

“These stories should be told on any show that purports to reflect society in an accurate way. It’s not like gay, bi, and trans people were just invented,” agreed Neval.

Neval and McIntosh will be joined by many other returning cast members, including Damien Bodie (Dylan Timmins), Bruce Samazan (Mark Gottlieb), Melissa Bell (Lucy Robinson) and Olympia Valance (Paige Smith).

Paul Keane (Des Clarke), Andrew Morley (Jack Callahan), Annie Jones (Jane Harris) and Scott McGregor (Mark Brennan) will also revisit Ramsay Street for the big day.

The soap has already had its first gay wedding, when Aaron Brennan and David Tanaka tied the knot in 2018. Comedian and marriage equality campaigner Magda Szubanski played the couple’s celebrant, Jemima, in the episodes.

At the time there was a huge outpouring of support for the fictional couple, and a number of fans said that David and Aaron’s relationship actually helped them or a friend or family member to come out.

Meanwhile, rival Channel 7 soap Home and Away was accused of homophobia earlier this year when furious fans discovered that a lesbian kiss had been cut from the Australian broadcast.

Channel 7 said that the cut was down to “human error”.