Goodbye 'Neighbours': Is iconic soap opera on verge of cancellation after 40 years?
The production of the popular Australian soap opera 'Neighbours' is on the verge of ending after almost 40 years. First broadcast in 1985, the show might end just three years short of its 40th anniversary, Reportedly, it "costs too much to film" compared to the "advertising revenue it brings in for the channel." Created by Australian TV executive Reg Watson, the show is set in Ramsay Street and has more than 8,770 episodes. British television network Channel 5 has reportedly backed out, despite multiple attempts by the producers at Fremantle Australia to strike a deal.
"Neighbours will no longer air on Channel 5 beyond this summer. It’s been a much-loved part of our schedule for more than a decade, and we’d like to thank the cast, Fremantle and all of the production team for their fantastic work on this iconic series. We’d also of course like to thank the fans for their loyal support of Neighbours across the years. We recognise that there will be disappointment about this decision, however our current focus is on increasing our investment in original UK drama, which has strong appeal for our viewers," said a Channel 5 spokesperson.
The backing out of Channel 5 is worrisome as Channel 5 foots the majority of the production bill. "Channel 5 pay Fremantle Australia many millions of pounds every year and, sadly, there’s a shortfall of about £5million in what it brings back in through advertising," a source said. "Everyone involved in the production is said to be pulling out all the stops to safeguard its future. But if the long-running drama — which still pulls in 1.2million UK viewers every day — has to end, bosses are also looking at ways they can do it in style," reports The Sun.
The series that has been a staple of Australian television drama needs a new production partner now that Channel 5 has backed out of the mix. According to The Age, "The reality is that without a British broadcaster to invest dollars, the future of Neighbours, even on Australian television, is facing a cliffhanger worthy of the show's best."
Ten Network has owned the show since acquiring it from the Seven Network in 1985 and relaunching it in 1986. "It is our intention to continue our association with Neighbours if another broadcast partner comes forward. Network 10 has an ongoing commitment to the show, the cast and crew and is hopeful that Fremantle will find a new production partner."
"Although dozens of Neighbours stars have gone on to become Hollywood stars, the show never really took off in the US, despite multiple attempts to bring it to American audiences. In 2014, Hulu picked up the rights to stream then-new episodes, but that deal was short-lived and the show is no longer available there," reports Pop Culture.
Promoted as "A daily slice of suburbia and a guilt-free excuse to twitch the curtains on some of the hottest names on Ramsay Street," the almost 40-year-old show reportedly still gains more than 1 million viewers per day. Stars like Liam Hemsworth, Kylie Minogue, Felix Mallard and Jesse Spencer have been a part of the popular show.