BEFORE most episodes of Emmerdale these days, viewers are warned that they may find some scenes upsetting.

And the worthier soaps would sometimes add at the end that anyone 'affected by issues raised in tonight’s programme' could find advice and support on their website.

That never happened with Neighbours.

Back in the early 1980s I went through a brief phase of trying to watch the two big American soaps, Dallas and Dynasty.

They were confusing. As far as I could figure out, every character had been married to every other character at least twice and now hated them.

No such bitterness cropped up in Neighbours.

After 37 years, the last ever episode of Neighbours is being screened tonight. Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue are due to make a last, guest appearance on it – especially for us, perhaps – and I may switch it on myself. I have no paint I want to watch dry at the moment.

But I always hated Neighbours, for the very reason some people liked it.

There were no scenes some viewers might find upsetting, no issues that might affect us, no complicated people, no hatred of exes. In short, it was TV drama without the drama.

I’ve heard people say that Neighbours is not as good as it used to be, but I suspect they’re wrong. It is impossible for it to have got any worse because it was always abysmal.

Unlike British soaps, Neighbours inhabited a kind of fantasy world.

Australia looks nice, it’s sunny and warm, the people there are all beautiful and healthy and generally good-natured, they’re all good neighbours who play cricket in the street together.

In the earliest days the end credits were just a selection of stills of houses, which looked like a cheaply made estate agents’ TV ad.

Its characters always dealt with very banal, boring, trivial issues – minor worries or romantic problems, low-key domestic arguments and endless “simple misunderstandings”.

Everyone feels able to talk about their anxieties and feelings, and all difficulties are solved quickly and amicably. Alcoholism, unemployment and domestic violence are unknown.

And it’s all very comfortably middle-class and Anglo-Saxon. Melbourne has the largest Jewish community in Australia and is the third largest Greek city in the world, but you’d never guess so from Neighbours.

Jews and Greeks figure rarely, as do Australia’s native inhabitants. In its early years Aboriginal characters might figure in a storyline that lasted no more than two episodes.

No-one is poor, almost everyone is white – especially their teeth – and they all look permanently as if they’ve just had their hair done.

Watching it required switching off your brain. Some argue that its great virtue was that it didn’t require us to think. And yes, it’s probably possible to think too much. But it’s also possible, far more common and far more dangerous to think too little.

The incredible popularity of Neighbours quite quickly had an effect on our language. For years young people picked up and used American turns of phrase, but before long we were detecting Australianisms.

Nobody ever used the hateful term “uni” as an abbreviation of “university” until the characters in Neighbours did.

They also gave a generation the so-called “interrogative rise”, a trait in Australian accents where statements sound like questions, with a rise in pitch at the end of sentences. So everything sounds like this? And no-one asserts anything with any confidence?

Its effect on our music was also an ill one. Kylie Minogue could never have had a hit with a cover version of The Locomotion without her high TV profile, let alone with the squeaky I Should Be So Lucky, which is said to have rolled off the Stock, Aitken and Waterman assembly line in less than 40 minutes.

Yet it sat at the top of the UK charts for five weeks – and ensured she was very lucky lucky lucky in cash.

Long before she sprouted feathers and sequins Minogue was purveying what some people called “bubble gum pop”, and others called rubbish. But even its fans must have acknowledged that it was all very tame, harmless and easy listening and not at all “rock ‘n’ roll” – very much like Neighbours itself, in fact.

You’re hardly likely to see a murder in Neighbours, but it was responsible for one death off-screen, back in 1992.

A man in Hampshire was driven so mad by the endless blaring of the Neighbours theme tune from next door’s TV that he got into a fight with his neighbour. The other man fell down a flight of stairs and fractured his skull.

So much for neighbours becoming good friends.