The Australian soap opera that helped launch the careers of Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie and Russell Crowe faced an uncertain future Monday, with ‘Neighbors’ finding few friends in the television industry. After almost 9,000 episodes, the Melbourne-based show is struggling to find a broadcaster in Britain — where it has enjoyed a cult following for the past 36 years. Current UK broadcaster Channel 5 will not carry the program after June 2022, forcing producers to pull the plug unless a replacement is found. “As you know the future of the show has been uncertain for some time,” a top producer told cast and crew Sunday, in a memo obtained by AFP.
Australia’s “Channel 10 would love the show to continue if we could find another broadcast partner to replace C5”, the message said. “These discussions are ongoing however there is no new broadcaster at the moment and production must end, effectively resting the show.”
“We are so proud of the show, you all and everything that you’ve achieved. But for now, this chapter is closing and we want to work together to give Neighbors the amazing send off it deserves,” it added. The note also included a helpline number for distraught cast and crew to contact for support. A whole generation of Brits grew up watching characters such as Charlene Robinson (Minogue) and her on-screen beau Scott Robinson, as well as an ensemble cast that over the years included actors Guy Pearce, Natalie Imbruglia and Liam Hemsworth.
Such was the show’s one-time popularity that it was once blamed for Brits adopting an Australian-style upwards intonation at the end of sentences. Britain’s Channel 5 said that while ‘Neighbours’ was “iconic”, it wanted to focus on homegrown shows. “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,” it said. Australia’s Network 10 said in a statement that its intention was to “continue our association with Neighbors if another broadcast partner comes forward”.—AFP