Bouncer is a Labrador Retriever featured on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. He made his first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 4 February 1987 and he exited the series on 12 February 1993 after six years. He was played by Bouncer throughout his duration on the show and he was trained by Luke Hura.
|First appearance||4 February 1987|
|Last appearance||12 February 1993|
|Introduced by||Reg Watson|
When Neighbours needed a golden Labrador puppy, they turned to animal trainer Luke Hura and his canine actors agency, who provided them with Bouncer. Bouncer was paid more than the human actors and Hura revealed that he was worth between $100,000 and $200,000.
During Bouncer's time on Neighbours he lived at three addresses, survived road accidents, being lost, a house fire and being poisoned by some mushrooms. Bouncer's fan cards became the most popular out of any cast member.
One of Bouncer's most famous storylines had him dreaming that he was marrying Rosie, Clarrie McLachlan's (Frederick Parslow) Border Collie, who lived next door. During an interview, Anne Charleston (who played Madge Bishop) said "The whole cast was mortified about that! It reduced it to a three-year-old's programme. It was very strange."
Thirteen weeks after finishing his final scenes on Neighbours, Bouncer died of cancer aged seven. Following his death, Bouncer was sent more tributes from fans around the world than any of the human cast.
When Mike Young (Guy Pearce) failed to save Lucy Robinson (Kylie Flinker)'s pet Terrier, Basil, from drowning, he went to the local shelter and brought home Bouncer for her. Lucy was hurt and angry that Mike was trying to replace Basil and was initially reluctant to have anything to do with the new puppy. However, Bouncer soon won her over and she grew to love him as much as Basil. When Lucy left Ramsay Street for a trip around Europe, she left Bouncer with Mike, who became fond of the dog. Mike and the rest of the Clarke household grew to love Bouncer so much, that when Lucy returned (now played by Sasha Close) she let Bouncer stay at No.28. However, Bouncer had found new company in the form of lonely Mrs Mangel (Vivean Gray). Bouncer began to spend a lot of time in Mrs Mangel's house and she grew fond of him too. When Mike found out, he and Mrs Mangel fought over who Bouncer should live with and they decided to let Bouncer choose for himself. He ran to Mrs Mangel instead of Mike and Mike let Bouncer live at No.32 with her. After Mrs Mangel got married and moved to England with her new husband, Bouncer was left with her son Joe (Mark Little). Bouncer missed Mrs Mangel at first, but he soon found a new loving owner in Joe's son, Toby (Finn Greentree-Keane) and the two became inseparable. Bouncer became a hero of Ramsay Street when he saved Madge (Anne Charleston) and Sky Bishop (Miranda Fryer) from a fire at the Mangel house by barking for help.
He moved next door to No.30 with Toby and Dorothy Burke (Maggie Dence) when the Mangels moved to the countryside. Dorothy and Phoebe Bright (Simone Robertson), who also lived in the house, enjoyed having Bouncer live with them. When Toby and Dorothy decided to leave Ramsay Street to join the Mangels in the country, Toby knew he could not leave Bouncer behind and took him with him. But Bouncer missed the street and just days after leaving, Toby called Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) to say that Bouncer had run away. The residents were sure that Bouncer was heading back to Ramsay Street and it was Hannah Martin (Rebecca Ritters) who found him and a litter of puppies that he had fathered in Anson's Corner. It was then arranged for the puppies to live at a farm in the country near Bouncer. Doug (Terence Donovan) and Pam Willis (Sue Jones) packed their car with the puppies and drove them and Bouncer to the country.
—Daniel Bettridge of The Guardian describing Bouncer's duration. (2011)
Bouncer's dream sequence was named as one of Neighbours most memorable moments by The Times. The newspaper also added the storyline in which Bouncer saves Madge from a chip pan fire to their list of memorable moments. They said "One of those scenes you think you might have imagined, but no, Bouncer tenaciously calls the emergency services as an inferno engulfs the Mangels". Vicky Frost of The Guardian named Bouncer as one of the best TV dogs and pet insurance company Petplan named him the tenth "Top TV Pet" and the ninth best "Male TV Pet". The BBC said Bouncer's most notable moment was "Being nominated for a special bravery award by Toby Mangel."
MSN TV editor Lorna Cooper also commented on Bouncer and his dream stating: "Neighbours featured some bizarre dream sequences: there was the Christmas edition with Mike Young and Shane Ramsay as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee and the episode in which Harold Bishop fantasised about being a Scottish laird. But nothing has topped Bouncer the Labrador's dream that he was marrying Clarrie McLachlan's dog, Rosie. What were the writers thinking?" Bouncer's dream was later named the second "weirdest" storyline in the show's history.
Josephine Monroe commented positively of Bouncer in her book Neighbours: The first 10 years, stating: "Bouncer was a hero - he even answered the phone and barked to Joe when baby Sky was in trouble - and often had major storylines of his own like the time he was run over and nearly died. But most importantly, he was a loyal and loved friend." She also branded him as one of the most loved characters in the serial's history. Celebrating the serial's twenty-fifth anniversary, British magazine NOW profiled their favourite characters, Bouncer was included and they branded his dream sequence as one of the serial's most memorable moments and citing his on-screen death as the main plotline for the year.
An Orange website writer branded Bouncer as "arguably the most famous dog in soap history" and describe his relationship with Joe as "touching". Doyouremember.co.uk, a website dedicated to 1980's culture, criticised the writers of Bouncer's dream stating: "Was the writer on LSD? Or maybe somebody slipped a magic mushroom into the lasagne at Lassiters." Daniel Bettridge of The Guardian said the "Neighbours' faithful golden retriever" was one of the best actors to "tread the Ramsay Street tarmac." He described Bouncer's dream as the "infamous episode dedicated to a doggy daydream where he married the saucepot sheepdog from next door. Woof."
Andrew Williams of Metro said that Bouncer was a "photogenic" and "fun-loving labrador". He noted that while Bouncer "went on to save Madge from a chip pan fire, gave Mrs Mangel amnesia when he accidentally knocked her off a ladder and also fathered two litters of puppies with random neighbourhood bitches" - he was still best known for his "infamous dream". Readers of TV Magazine voted Bouncer their third "favourite ever soap dog" during a poll. He received 14% of the vote, behind Coronation Street's Schmeichel and EastEnders' Wellard.
In 2021 Alex Horne attempted to play Bouncer in the game No More Jockeys, but was eliminated as he couldn't name anyone else he had met who was called Bouncer.
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