The soap, produced by Fremantle and now in its 37th season, is watched by 1.5 million viewers a day in the U.K. but Variety understands that its Australian audience is on the wane. Although “Neighbours” is produced in Australia, it is largely bankrolled by Channel 5.
Australia’s Network 10, which airs the soap on its 10 Peach channel, is only a part funder.
A Channel 5 spokesperson told Variety: “’Neighbours’ will no longer air on Channel 5 beyond this summer. 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,” the spokesperson added. “We recognize that there will be disappointment about this decision, however our current focus is on increasing our investment in original U.K. drama, which has strong appeal for our viewers.”
News of the show’s cancellation has come as a shock to cast and crew, which total around 150 people. Sources tell Variety that conversations have been ongoing about the program’s future beyond Channel 5, but no decisions have been made as of yet and aren’t thought to be imminent.
Channel 5 first began airing “Neighbours” in 2008, and struck a new deal for the program in 2018 that allowed it to air all year round. In the last few years, however, priorities have changed for the channel, which has enjoyed success with new dramas such as “All Creatures Great and Small.”
In an email to the “Neighbours” cast and crew, Fremantle said: “Our audience remains steady and Channel 10 would love the show to continue if we could find another broadcast partner to replace. These discussions are ongoing however there is no new broadcaster at the moment and production must end, effectively resting the show.”
The soap featured several performers who would go on to stardom including Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce.