Neighbours to ‘rest’ say Fremantle Australia

Reg Watson

The programme devised by Crossroads producer Reg Watson will end this autumn. The daily soap opera has been in production since 1985 and is currently, according to viewers, ‘in good health’ but funding has seen the Ramsay Street-set saga come to an unexpected end.

Fremantle Statement released by the Neighbours social media team:

“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. 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”

Fans of the show have questioned why a ‘partner’ is needed when Home and Away continues on Channel 7 funded in the majority by that network. They have also questioned why the programme is ‘so expensive’ and could cost-cutting not have helped keep it on air. However, unlike its Summer Bay counterpart, the Erinsborough serial airs on a digital channel ’10 Peach’ rather than the main Network 10.

And while Fremantle seems quite happy for the serial, which was proudly part of The Grundy Organisation headed by the late Reg Grundy, to depart – maybe it’s just not cool enough – over at Home and Away they’re still proud of their daily drama.

In a recent feature with Australian showbiz outlet TV Tonight Seven scheduler Brook Hall told them:

“I know it’s not a sexy thing to say, but Home & Away is our main drama that we run pretty much all year. It’s an expensive drama, a high quality one, it runs on our main channel in primetime… It’s not something that we use on the multi to get drama points. It is our most expensive outlay of content. And that gets lost. There’s no other network would have as big a price a tag on a show. It’s our biggest production of the year.

“There’s always a hashtag… ‘# excluding Home & Away‘. That seems very unfair and unreasonable. I’m very proud of Home & Away, and it’s arguably our most important show, and our biggest cash outlay. We don’t have to do it. We believe in it.”

Unfortunately, Fremantle Australia, who inherited Neighbours production from Grundy when Pearson Television bought out Reg Grundy’s empire, doesn’t seem to believe in it, with reality shows and critic-loving dramas now the direction they seem to be going in.

Grundy Television produced ‘cheap and cheerful’ soaps that became some of the best-loved not only in Australia but also the UK including The Young Doctors, Sons and Daughters and the ever-popular cult jail saga Prisoner: Cell Block H. All devised by Reg Watson who had studied ‘daily soap’ in America for ATV in the 1950s and launched ITV’s first half-hour daily soap Crossroads in 1964.

Neighbours, Fremantle Australia

Reg Grundy, who had a successful production company making quiz and game shows visited ATV in 1974 to look at how soap opera was put together and lured Reg back to his native Australia along with Alan Coleman to launch a Grundy drama department, and there began a soap opera powerhouse that gave Network 10, Channel 7 and the Nine Network some of their biggest rating hits culminating with their biggest global hit Neighbours in 1985.

Neighbours originally aired on BBC One in the UK between 1986 and 2008, before Channel 5 bought the rights to the show to make an ‘Aussie Soap Hour‘ having previously gained the rights to Seven Network’s Home and Away, in 2000, which had aired on ITV since 1989. It joined the network’s line-up in 2001. However last month Channel 5 announced they were no longer interested in funding and airing the hit saga.

The serial set in Ramsay Street continues to be one of Channel 5’s most-watched programmes however bosses at the station are apparently ’embarrassed’ by the programme with one executive recently commenting that ‘the only people who could be proud of Neighbours are the people who work on it’. The official line from Channel 5 for ending their involvement with the production is to free up the budget to produce more drama.

The last episode will air around August.

Fremantle Statement released by the Neighbours social media team:

“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.”

News report by ATV Today. Republished with permission.

2 thoughts on “

    1. Yup, I think most people would find this whole situation ridiculous; 10 want someone else to pay for their programme. Be like ITV selling Corrie to Nine and expecting Nine to pay for most of its production.

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