Entertainment ‘We simply have no option’: Soap opera Neighbours axed after 37 years
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‘We simply have no option’: Soap opera Neighbours axed after 37 years

Neighbours
Internationally popular Australian soap opera Neighbours has been axed after nearly four decades. Photo: Network 10
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The producers of long-running Australian soap, Neighbours, are hopeful of at least one blockbuster, all-star episode before the show ends its 37-year run in June.

The future of Neighbours was in doubt since Britain’s Channel 5 last month confirmed it would stop airing the show.

The worst was confirmed on Friday night when it released a statement confirming it would cease production.

“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,” the show announced on its Twitter page.

“Following the loss of our key broadcast partner in the UK and despite an extensive search for alternative funding, we simply have no option but to rest the show.

“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. From here on, we are celebrating Neighbours.”

The drama about the residents of Ramsay Street has been shown on UK television for more than 30 years, and launched the international careers of Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Jason Donovan, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Ben Mendelsohn and Natalie Imbruglia, to name just a few.

Channel 5, which owns the show, said dropping the soap would allow funding to be diverted to original UK dramas.

Award-winning actor Pearce, who started his career on Neighbours in 1985, said aside from being an incredible launch pad, “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,” he posted on Twitter.

“A true honour to have been a part of it. Great memories Xx.”

The longest-running drama series on Australian television, Neighbours initially launched on the Seven Network in 1985, but the channel axed it before Ten picked it up the following year and it became an international hit.

In Australia it has been shown on digital channel 10 Peach since 2011 and has been reliant on the UK broadcaster for funding.

Scott and Sharlene reunion

Neighbours executive producer Jason Herbison was philosophical on Thursday night about the end of the show, but hoped to be able to offer a fitting farewell from the residents of the fictitious Erinborough.

Herbison told 10 News he and the crew were “very sad but we are also very proud”.

“Thirty seven years is an incredible achievement,” he said. “We are the longest-running drama show ever in Australia.”

Herbison said he hoped Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan – who played the romantic couple Charlene Robinson (nee Mitchell) and Scott Robinson – would be part of the show’s final storyline.

“Kylie and Jason, they personify the Neighbours of the early years so we would love to see them back in Ramsay Street,” he said.

“They are busy people, as well (but) we hope that the planets will align and we can get them back on the show somehow, some way, but between now and June we will be working on it,” he added.

Neighbours
Minogue and  Donovan launched their careers on Neighbours. Photo: Network 10

Fan favourites Ian Smith, who played Harold Bishop, and Anne Charleston, who played Madge Bishop, are slated to make guest appearances on the show before June.

-with agencies