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British & Irish Lions
Tubas, shootings and the MCG
Tom Hamilton in Melbourne
June 26, 2013
Tourists for the day at the Neighbours set © ESPNscrum

With limited media opportunities on offer, on Wednesday I opted to take in two different aspects of Australian culture - the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Neighbours set. Both were surreal experiences and the day started with an early morning taxi to the meeting point for the official tour of Ramsey Street and the filming locations in and around Erinsborough.

Now the last time I watched this soap, Harold Bishop was booming out some belters on his tuba and Toadie was coming to terms with crashing his car on his wedding day and his new wife Dee seemingly drowning. Drama Part Three readers.

But it seems Neighbours has moved on. It's now broadcast in more countries than ever and our superb tour guide let us in on a few in-house secrets. Lasiter's pond is actually only 15.2m in size and someone once climbed onto the house where Harold used to live and urinated off the balcony. The house's tenant took umbrage to this and hit him with a cricket bat - for more facts see Brian Moore's Twitter feed.

Incidentally, Moore was there with some of the TalkSport crew; he has only seen half an episode of the soap but the bus reverberated with his laughter on the way back when a DVD of the soap's marriages and deaths, hosted by none other than Andi Peters, was being shown.

Another fact which may be of interest is that there have been 32 shootings on the show - it is a war torn soap opera. And the actor who plays Dr Karl Kennedy was originally in the soap as a different character. Scandal.

But it was a good experience being shown the set and we took a stroll on the Ramsey Street, though it is actually called Pinoak Court. We were prohibited of taking pictures of one house, though I still did, because its owner was mowing the front lawn. The likes of Lou Carpenter and Madge Bishop - I presume they are still in the show? - only film once a week on the street.

Brian Moore grills Kym Valentine, Melbourne, Australia, June 26, 2013
Brian Moore grills Kym Valentine, or Libby Kennedy as she is commonly known, with TalkSport producer Mike Bovill watching on ©

Afterwards we had the pleasure of meeting Kym Valentine who plays Libby Kennedy. Now I'm not sure what her knowledge of rugby is but I'm pretty sure it's roughly equal to Moore's Neighbours nous. However, the two still enjoyed a lively conversation afterwards and while some of it will not be suitable for broadcast, the results on TalkSport will be well worth tuning in for.

But once the Neighbours experience came to an end, I hotfooted it over to the MCG where we had a tour lined up with someone who witnessed the 1958 games in the stadium. I would wager that Myles, our superb tour guide, has seen more of sport's top events over the last few decades than any other human being on the planet.

But his sporting home is the MCG. Out of all the stadia I have been to, it is on another level. The infrastructure is superb, the ground's history is colourful and extensive and one can only imagine what it would be like to see the Boxing Day Test there. The huge banks of seats - the current attendance stands at 100,000 - all have superb views of the pitch and even though the only sportsman in attendance at the MCG earlier today were on the guided tours, it was just a brilliant experience being there.

The Melbourne Cricket Club currently has 100,000 members with another 214,000 on the waiting list. It is more than just a ground, it is an institution. The tour took in the changing rooms, anecdotes about some of the mischievous happenings that have occurred within the oval, the famous Long Room and their library. While my knowledge of cricket is probably similar to Moore's of Neighbours, I would imagine the Cricinfo chaps would love to spend some time there, if they have not already.

Today's day of contrasts, coupled with yesterday's game at the AAMI Stadium and a visit to meet the Melbourne Storm's new CEO Mark Evans, just showed what a brilliant sporting city Melbourne is. And tonight, after I finish typing these nothings, it will be off to a local bar to watch some 'biff' in the State of Origin. Well done Melbourne and Advance Australia Fair.

A sporting cathedral © ESPNscrum
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
Follow him on Twitter @tomESPNscrum