Neighbours, the longest-running soap opera on Australian television, is coming to an end.
After U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 revealed in February that it would no longer air the program, Neighbours producer Fremantle Australia announced on Thursday that the series will cease production in June.
“We are so sorry to say that after nearly 37 years and almost 9000 episodes broadcast we have to confirm that Neighbours will cease production in June,” a rep for Fremantle Australia said.“Following the loss of our key broadcast partner in the U.K. and despite an extensive search for alternative funding, we simply have no option but to rest the show.”
But as a thank you to all the show’s supporters, Fremantle Australia promised to wrap up the series with a bang. “To our amazing, loyal fans, we know this is a huge disappointment, as it is to all of us on the team. We thank you for all your messages and support and promise to end the show on an incredible high,” added the spokesperson. “From here on, we are celebrating Neighbours.”
Neighbours’ local and international broadcasts
Created by Reg Watson, Neighbours was first commissioned by Australia’s Seven Network following the success of Watson’s earlier soap opera, Sons and Daughters. Although successful in Melbourne, Neighbours underperformed in the Sydney market and was canceled by Seven Network just four months after its March 1985 premiere.
Immediately after getting canceled by Seven Network, Neighbours was saved by another Australian broadcaster, Network 10, which started to air the show’s sophomore run in January 1986. Fast-forward to January 2011, Neighbours moved to Network 10’s digital channel, 10 Peach.
Though the series has not been a ratings hit since it relocated from Network 10 to 10 Peach, Neighbours has become a valuable publicity vehicle for the parent network and has trained hundreds of Australians in the craft of television, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Margot Robbie, and Guy Pearce. Minogue and Pearce have recently reacted to the show’s cancellation via Twitter:
I’ll be forever grateful for the experience & the friends I made on @neighbours. We had no idea how big the show would become and how passionately viewers would take it to heart. Pure love! ?? I can still hear Madge calling … CHARLENE!!!!
— Kylie Minogue (@kylieminogue) March 3, 2022
I’m so sorry to hear Neighbours will end. Aside from being the incredible launch pad it’s been no one can deny the effect it’s had throughout millions of homes around the world. It’s bonded all of us in immeasurable ways. A true honour to have been a part of it. Great memories Xx
— Guy Pearce (@TheGuyPearce) March 3, 2022
Neighbours is also huge outside of Australia. In fact, the show has been sold to over 60 countries around the world, making it one of Australia’s most successful media exports. It has been particularly successful in the U.K, where it was first screened in October 1986 on BBC One and eventually achieved huge popularity among British audiences in the late 1980s and 1990s.
In 2008, Neighbours switched broadcasters in the U.K., ultimately moving to Channel 5. Since then, Channel 5 has bankrolled the series, as Australia’s Network 10 was no longer able to fund it alone.
What is Neighbours about?
Neighbours follows the lives of the people who live and work in Erinsborough, a fictional suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. It centers on the residents of Ramsay Street, a cul-de-sac, and its neighboring area, the Lassiters complex. Neighbours started with three families created by Watson – the Ramsays, the Robinsons, and the Clarkes.
Neighbours has become a worldwide hit partly because of its courage to break down barriers, including the introduction of the show’s first trans character Mackenzie Hargraves, played by the Australian trans activist Georgie Stone in 2019. In 2004, Neighbours also aired a highly controversial lesbian kiss between the characters Lana Crawford and Sky Mangel.
There are many people around the world whose only knowledge of Australia is through @neighbours
While some soaps play it safe, #Neighbours took creative risks and always tried to be better
Ramsay Street ends up a place where EVERYBODY has been made to feel welcome
— Andrew Mercado (@andrewmercado) March 3, 2022