Neighbours has been dropped by its UK broadcaster, Channel 5.
In a statement, the network confirmed their decision not to renew their contract to air the iconic Australian soap with producers Fremantle Australia.
The decision could place the series’ future in jeopardy, given Channel 5 foots most of the show’s production bill.
Gone: Neighbours has been dropped by its UK broadcaster, Channel 5. In a statement, the network confirmed their decision not to renew their contract to air the Aussie soap with producers Fremantle Australia. Pictured: the show’s 2021 cast
In a statement, Channel 5 said, ‘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.’
Not enough: Despite recent high-profile casting like Aussie expat Tammin Sursok, the decision places the series’ future in jeopardy given Channel 5 foots most of the show’s production bill
According to industry site TV Blackbox, ‘it’s unlikely [Channel] 10 can keep producing [the show]’ without financial backing from an international broadcaster.
If the show doesn’t find another backer soon, it could spell the end of the 37-year-old television institution.
Channel 10 released a statement on Sunday to TV Tonight, which read: ‘As outlined in the email to cast and crew, 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. We will provide further updates as they become available.’
The Australian soap, which still gets 1.2million UK viewers per day, has been on the air in Oz since 1985 but producers and Channel 5 were said to be looking at options to keep it on screen, three years before its 40th anniversary.
Although the show is filmed Down Under, UK broadcaster Channel 5 foots most of the production bill and the advertising revenue brought in by the programme does not match up to the outgoings, The Sun reports.
End of an era? Neighbours is leaving UK screens after nearly four decades on television (Jason Donavan and Kylie Minogue pictured on show in 1988)
Bosses are said to be looking at seeing it off with a bang with the return of a legendary star such as Kylie Minogue.
A source said: ‘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.
‘There’s a lot of disbelief and sadness among those who know it’s struggling.
‘They are currently in the process of approaching a number of former cast members, including Kylie, to make a special return.’
Legendary TV: The Australian soap, which still gets 1.2million UK viewers per day, has been on the air in Oz since 1985 (Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne star as Karl and Susan Kennedy)
MailOnline has contacted Channel 5 and Fremantle for comment.
Speculation the serial could be facing the chop has been mounting for a while, with Fremantle and Australian network Channel 10 also struggling to come to a deal.
Channel Ten announced the show would be slashed down to four episodes a week instead of five in July last year.
‘From July 26, Neighbours will air four nights a week. On Fridays, viewers can laugh along with their favourite Friends,’ a spokesperson told TV Tonight at the time.
International audience: The soap first hit UK television screens in 1986 when it was shown on BBC One, a year after it launched in Australia
At the time, Channel 5 also announced it would be cutting broadcasts of Neighbours and Home and Away from five nights a week to just two due to the Covid pandemic.
And an alleged insider told Woman’s Day that the soap could be in trouble: ‘Channel 5 aren’t happy. They think the show is stale. They’re deciding whether to continue the show or not.’
‘I can’t stress how much this move shows Neighbours is no longer the powerhouse in the UK that it once was. Many believe this is the beginning of the end.’
The soap first hit UK television screens in 1986 when it was shown on BBC One.
Two years later, nearly 20million viewers switched on to watch Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie) get married.
Telling the tale: The show has featured some gripping storylines involving characters such as Madeleine West and Ryan Moloney’s Dee Bliss and Toadie Rebecchi
That year, Kylie left the show to launch her legendary pop career, with Jason quitting a year later to break out as a singer himself.
The Kylie and Jason public obsession reached fever pitch when the couple got together in real life and they had a hit record together, Especially For You.
But superstardom beckoned for Kylie and a new relationship with INXS front man, the late Michael Hutchence, soon put an end to the Kylie and Jason fairy tale.
Jason later hit a rough patch due to alcohol and drug abuse but has since regained an image befitting of his alter Neighbour’s ego Scott.
Hollywood star: Margot Robbie (pictured in Neighbours, right) has since hit the big time starring in blockbuster movies
Playing the part: Liam launched his career playing wheelchair-bound hunk Josh Taylor (right) on the street from 2007 to 2008 (pictured left in 2020)
Multi talented: Holly Valance left her role as Felicity ‘Flick’ Scully in 2002 to pursue a music career and scored a hit with Kiss Kiss
The soap has also seen a number of international stars set foot on the Melbourne set, including Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie, Natalie Imbruglia, Delta Goodrem, Liam Hemsworth, and Holly Valance.
Russell played ex-con Kenny Larkin in four episodes in the eighties, while Liam launched his career playing wheelchair-bound hunk Josh Taylor on the street from 2007 to 2008.
Margot started her on screen life as Donna Freeman in Neighbours 2008 and Natalie left her role as Beth Brennan and kissed goodbye to her onscreen surfer-dude husband Brad Willis to launch a singing career in 1997.
Delta, who played Nina Tucker, has since been a coach on Australia’s The Voice and has had eight number one singles and three number one albums in Australia and sold over six million albums worldwide
Holly left her role as Felicity ‘Flick’ Scully in 2002 to pursue a music career and scored a hit with Kiss Kiss.
Suoerstar: Delta Goodrem, who played Nina Tucker, has since been a coach on Australia’s The Voice and has had eight number one singles and three number one albums in Australia and sold over six million albums worldwide
Film veteran: Russell played ex-con Kenny Larkin in four episodes in the eighties
Screen life: Natalie left her role as Beth Brennan and kissed goodbye to her onscreen surfer-dude husband Brad Willis to launch a singing career in 1997
Neighbours’ most memorable storylines
Scott and Charlene’s wedding
Perhaps the most famous Neighbours moment, 20million people tuned in to watch Scott and Charlene Robinson, played by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue, get married in November 1988.
The pair’s friend and family were seen in floods of tears as Charlene walked down the aisle to Angry Anderson power ballad Suddenly, with neighbour Nell Mangel catching the bouquet.
Mark leaves Annalise at the alter
Mark Gottlieb and Annalise Hartman’s nuptials didn’t go to plan in 1994. While both parties were nervous on the day, Mark left Annalise at the alter, saying he couldn’t marry her.
However, it wasn’t totally down to Annalise as he decided marriage wasn’t for him and decided to become a priest.
The death of Helen Daniels
Helen Daniels, played by the late Anne Haddy, established herself as the grandmother of Ramsay Street.
Embroiled in some gripping storylines, over the years she saw her life stolen by a conman, she had an affair with her daughter’s fiancé, and she fell down some stairs before suffering a stroke.
In a bid to bring the warring Ramsay and Robinson families together, she gathered them round to watch Scott and Charlene’s wedding together but, as they bickered over their differences, she quietly passed away on the sofa in her sleep.
The Lou, Madge and Harold love triangle
Madge Ramsay (Anne Charleston), Harold Bishop (Iain Smith) and Lou Carpenter’s (Tom Oliver) lives were entangled before the show even hit screens, with the trio knowing one another from their school days.
Madge fell head over heels for ‘Jelly Belly’ Harold but was also strongly attracted to cheeky Lou.
However, Madge’s life took an unexpected turn for viewers when she married Fred Mitchell, with their relationship soon becoming troubled.
Madge and Harold later got back together and he proposed much to the distaste of Lou who attempted to win Madge over. Madge eventually married Harold in 1988.
After Harold’s death, Lou set his sights on Madge once more and the pair planned to marry but they called it off when he realised he wasn’t a match for Harold.
Harold returns from the dead
Harold was killed off on the soap when he was swept out to sea when Madge’s back was turned, leaving nothing behind other than his glasses.
However, he made a shock return to Erinsborough five years later, declaring he’d suffered from amnesia, with Helen Daniels running into him by chance while browsing in a Salvation Army shop.
He returned to Ramsay Street to be reunited with Madge.
Madge appeared on the show from 1986 to 1992 and again from 1996 to 2001 as a much-loved character.
After Harold’s return, the pair renewed their marriage vows and fostered a child but she was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Doctors told her she had just months to live but further tragedy struck when her life was shortened even further after she developed septicaemia after cutting her finger.
Before her death, Lou confessed his undying love for her and she died in the arms of Harold.
Susan’s memory loss
In typical soap style, Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) totally lost her memory after slipping on the milk from a spilled bowl of cereal in 2002.
She was convinced she was 16 years old again, a situation that left her incredibly confused when she found herself by chance at a 70s-themed birthday party.
Jarrod “Toadfish” Rebecchi, played by Ryan Moloney, found was first heartbroken just hours after his wedding to Dee Bliss (Madeleine West) in 2003 when he lost control of their car and drove it off a cliff, with her body never being found.
In 2010 he left Steph Scully (Carla Bonner) at the alter when he realised she didn’t love him and during his third wedding to Sonya Mitchell (Eve Morey) in 2013, a gas bottle exploded during the reception, destroying their marquee and leaving Sonya with a fractured skull and no memory of the wedding. Characters Priya Kapoor and Rhys Lawson were also killed in the blast.