Fans of the popular Aussie soap are keen to know why Neighbours is ending. We share the reasons and take a look back at some of the show’s most famous cast members.
It’s the sunny overseas drama that drew in audiences of over 60 million back in the day. But sadly for soap fans the curtain is set to fall on Neighbours – Australia’s longest running daytime drama – after 37 years.
Viewers first started worrying that Neighbours was cancelled back in February following a major announcement by Channel 5, who show the soap in the UK. Many want to know why the storylines set in the famous Ramsay Street have come to an abrupt end. So we’ve explained why Neighbours is ending, additionally looking back on some of the biggest stars to appear on the show.
Why is Neighbours ending?
Australian soap Neighbours is ending as the show was unable to find alternative funding after Channel 5 decided to stop broadcasting it. Producers of the daytime show – Network 10 and Fremantle – confirmed the sad news that the final episode will air this June.
“It is with sadness that after nearly 37 years and almost 9,000 episodes broadcast, we are confirming that Neighbours will cease production in June,” a Fremantle spokesperson said. “Following the loss of a key broadcast partner in the UK, and despite a search for alternative funding, we currently have no option but to rest the show.”
Channel 5 caused a commotion in early February when it announced it would stop airing the show later this year. The news came as somewhat of a shock to some as the soap continues to draw in 1.2 million viewers a day in the UK. At the time Channel 5 said the the decision to drop the soap was to allow funding to be redirected to new UK dramas.
“Everyone at Neighbours has been overwhelmed by the love and support from the audience since the news came out,” the show’s producers continued. “The show has brought a sunny slice of Australia into the homes of millions of viewers around the world launching the careers of dozens of household names along the way.
“But as this chapter of Ramsay Street comes to a close, we promise to do everything we can to give the show the send-off it deserves.”
Sources have told The Sun that some of the soap’s biggest stars could return for the final episode. According to the publication, 61-year-old Peter O’Brien who starred Shane Ramsay in the very first episode is one who will return along with a confirmed Kylie and Jason.
“There is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes to make sure the final few weeks of Neighbours are truly special,” the source said. “They are still waiting to hear back from a number of former stars but Peter has agreed to return and will start filming in May.”
When did Neighbours first air?
The first episode of Australian soap Neighbours aired on 18 March, 1985. Audiences across the pond were introduced to Ramsay Street and it’s residents the Ramsay, Robinson and Clark families. Though it was a full 18 months later – in 1986 – that British audiences caught their first episodes of the soap on BBC One.
After 2008, the series moved to Channel 5 where it has played in the UK ever since. The soap celebrated it’s 30th anniversary in 2016, making it the longest running drama series on Australian television. Many now famous Australian actors credit the show with having launched their careers.
Neighbours – the soap’s biggest stars over the years:
Liam Hemsworth played Josh Taylor (2007-2008)
Before becoming a Hollywood hunk, Australian actor Liam Hemsworth tread the boards in the country’s beloved soap. Liam starred as Josh Taylor for two years. His charatcer was an athletic paraplegic who was left paralyzed following a car crash. He appeared in 24 episodes and was the love interest of Bridget Parker (actress Eloise Mignon).
Margot Robbie played Donna Freedman (2008-2014)
Yes this Aussie actress had a long stint on the show. And this was way before her critically-acclaimed performances in Wolf of Wall Street, I Tonya, Suicide Squad and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Margot starred in over 300 episodes as Donna Freedman. Then aged 17, it was her first major acting role. “Before ‘Neighbours,’ I was working at Subway,” she said in a 2013 interview with the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
She was initially a guest star, but bosses promoted her to series regular later in 2008. Audiences followed the journey of the bisexual teen who shared a same-sex kiss with Sunny Lee (actress Hany Lee), later married Ringo Brown (actor Sam Clark) then had an affair with Andrew Robinson (actor Jordan Patrick Smith). She proved a hit with viewers and critics, bagging two Logies for the role.
Kylie Minogue played Charlene Mitchell (1986-1988)
Before she started ‘Spinning Around’ – Kylie Minogue was a little known name. She was first catapulted into the public arena for her role in Neighbours alongside on and off-screen boyfriend Jason Donovan. And it’s safe to say a lot of Neighbours viewers credit the two for making it such a success back in the late 1980s. Kylie’s Charlene Mitchell was only a character for two years but she drew in huge audience numbers. Take her wedding to Jason’s Scott Robinson in a 1987 episode – which drew in an incredible 20 million plus viewers.
Shortly after, Kylie launched her singing career and the rest is history. The Grammy winner is officially the biggest-selling female Australian singer of all time. The songstress recently relocated back to her sunny birthplace and is currently dating boyfriend Paul Solomons.
Jason Donovan played Scott Robinson (1985-1989)
Jason has a whopping 559 episodes of Neighbours under his belt. And he’s a huge part of the show’s history too. Being one of the original characters who appeared in Neighbours first ever episode in March 1985. Starring as heartthrob Scott Robinson, a then 19-year-old Jason quickly earned a legion of adoring fans. And alongside co-star and girlfriend of the time Kylie, he helped cement Neighbour’s international success. Like Kylie, Jason also had a successful singing career of the back of the show. But of course his most famous hit remains Especially for You. A love song sang as a duet with Kylie in December 1988.
No doubt, Jason is one ex-cast member who will be sad to see that Neighbours is ending. When news of it’s potential demise surfaced in February, the Australian star tweeted his hopes that the show would be picked up by another network.
Russel Crowe – four appearances (1987)
New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe had a very brief appearance in the hit Aussie soap. In 1987, he starred as Kenny Larkin – an ex prison mate of Henry Ramsay (Craig McLachlan). Sadly for Crowe fans he only starred in four episodes. He later went on to achieve Oscar glory in 2001 for the film Gladiator.
Chris Hemsworth – one appearance
He’s the gorgeous Thor actor who is more known for starring in rival soap Home and Away as Kim Hyde between 2004 and 2007. However, Chris – older brother of Liam – did actually star in one episode of Neighbours. A nameless character he worked with Steph Scully (actress Carla Bonner) in a garage near the famous Ramsay Street.
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