UK Channel 5 dumps Neighbours

Australia’s longest-running drama Neighbours has been dealt a blow with news that the show’s UK broadcaster, Channel 5, has not renewed the show.

Digital Spy reports that Channel 5 has issued a statement confirming that it will cease broadcasting the soap: “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.”

Neighbours has been a staple of UK television since it debuted on BBC1 in an afternoon timeslot in October 1986. The addition of a 5.35pm re-run in 1988 saw the show become a major ratings hit, bumping local soaps Coronation Street and EastEnders from the top of the ratings.  At its peak, Neighbours was watched by around 20 million Brits every day and the show’s cast were invited to appear at a Royal Variety Performance in 1988.

Channel 5 took over airing the series in 2008. Although the show’s audience is a fraction of what it was in the 1980s, it still ranks as one of Channel 5’s highest-rating programs. It recently moved Neighbours‘ evening screening from 5.30pm to 6.00pm, replacing fellow Aussie soap Home And Away which was bumped from the channel’s prime time schedule.

With Channel 5 being a major investor in Neighbours‘ production, the decision to dump the show casts a cloud over its future. For many years the show has enjoyed a much higher following and profile in the United Kingdom than it has in Australia, where it has been out of the mainstream since being pushed to multi-channel Eleven (now 10Peach) in 2011.

Network Ten has made a statement to TV Tonight that it intends to continue its association with Neighbours should production company Fremantle find another international broadcast partner.

In 2020, Neighbours attracted worldwide attention as one of the first dramas in the English-speaking world to resume production after widespread COVID-19 lockdown. Last year it attracted less complimentary coverage when a number of past and present cast members spoke out about a workplace culture of racism.

Neighbours screens Monday to Thursday evenings at 6.30pm on 10Peach, and continues to air in Ireland, New Zealand and Belgium.

Source: Digital Spy, Sky News UK, TV Tonight


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