|Created by||Reg Watson|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||Neighbours theme|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||8,621|
|Executive producer||Jason Herbison|
|Producer||Natalie Lynch and Kate Kendall|
|Production locations||Melbourne, Victoria|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||18 March 1985 –|
|Related shows||Neighbours: Erinsborough High|
Neighbours is an Australian television soap opera that was first broadcast on the Seven Network on 18 March 1985. It was created by television executive Reg Watson, who proposed the idea of making a show that focused on realistic stories and portrayed adults and teenagers who talk openly and solve their problems together. Seven decided to commission the show following the success of Watson's earlier soap Sons and Daughters, which aired on the network. Although successful in Melbourne, Neighbours underperformed in the Sydney market and struggled for months before Seven cancelled it. The show was immediately bought by rival network Ten. After taking over production of the show, the new network had to build replica sets because Seven destroyed the originals to prevent its rival from obtaining them. Ten began screening Neighbours on 20 January 1986, beginning where the previous series left off and commencing with episode 171. Neighbours has since become the longest-running drama series in Australian television and in 2005, it was inducted collectively into the Logie Hall of Fame.
The show's storylines concern the domestic and professional lives of the people who live and work in Erinsborough, a fictional suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. The series primarily centres on the residents of Ramsay Street, a short cul-de-sac, and its neighbouring area, the Lassiters complex, which includes a bar, hotel, café, police station, lawyers' office and park. Neighbours began with three families created by Watson – the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes. Watson said that he wanted to show three families who are friends living in a small street. The Robinsons and the Ramsays had a long history and were involved in an ongoing rivalry. Pin Oak Court, in Vermont South, is the real cul-de-sac that has doubled for Ramsay Street since 1985. All of the houses featured are real and the residents allow the production to shoot external scenes in their yards. The interior scenes are filmed at the Global Television studios in Forest Hill.
Through its entire run in Australia, Neighbours has been screened as a twenty-two-minute episode each weeknight in an early-evening slot. Neighbours moved to Ten's digital channel, Eleven (later rebranded 10 Peach) on 11 January 2011, and it is currently broadcast each weeknight at 6:30 pm. The show is produced by Fremantle Australia and has been sold to over sixty countries around the world, making it one of Australia's most successful media exports. Neighbours has been especially successful in the United Kingdom, where it was first screened on 27 October 1986 on BBC One, and achieved huge popularity among British audiences in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2008, it moved to the UK's Channel 5. From 2018, the show became the first Australian drama to air all year round after securing a new deal with Channel 5.
Neighbours was created by Australian TV executive Reg Watson. Watson got the idea for Neighbours from his time working on Crossroads and watching fellow soap Coronation Street in Britain. He had already created successful Australian made soap operas The Young Doctors, Prisoner and Sons and Daughters. Watson proposed the idea of making a show that would focus on more realistic stories and portray teens and adults who talk openly to each other and solve their problems together. He also wanted the show to appeal to both Australian and British audiences. Several titles were discussed, before Neighbours was chosen, including People Like Us, One Way Street, No Through Road and Living Together. Watson said "In the end it came down to being what it is, a story around neighbours." Reporters from the Herald Sun said that Watson took his idea to the Nine Network in 1982, but it was rejected. He then went to the Seven Network, who commissioned the show in September 1984. The serial went into production that November with an $8 million budget. The show's initial premise focused on three families, made up of 12 core characters, living in Ramsay Street, dealing with everyday life with humour and drama. The first episode was broadcast on 18 March 1985 and reviews for the show were favourable. However, the Melbourne-produced programme underperformed in the Sydney market and Seven announced on 12 July 1985 that it was cancelling the show.
Neighbours was immediately bought by Seven's rival Network Ten. The new network had to build replica sets when it took over production after Seven destroyed the original sets to prevent the rival network obtaining them. Ten began screening the series with episode 171 on 20 January 1986. In 1986, the series was bought by the BBC as part of their new daytime schedule in the United Kingdom. Neighbours made its debut on BBC1 on 27 October 1986 starting with the pilot episode. It soon gained a loyal audience and the show became particularly popular with younger viewers, and before long was watched by up to 16 million viewers – more than the entire population of Australia at the time. In 1988 Neighbours became the only television show to have its entire cast flown over to the UK to make an appearance at the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen. Neighbours has since become the longest running drama series in Australian television and the seventh longest running serial drama still on the air in the world. In 2005, Neighbours celebrated its 20th anniversary and over twenty former cast members returned for a special episode, which saw the characters sitting down to watch a documentary about Ramsay Street and its residents. At the Logie Award ceremony that year, the show was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame.
2007 saw the show undergo a revamp, which included a switch to recording in HDTV, the introduction of a new family, the departure of several existing characters and a new version of the show's familiar theme song and opening titles. In addition, episode titles were abandoned, having been in use for the previous three years. Daniel Bennett, the new head of drama at Network Ten, announced that the crux of the Ramsay Street story would go "back to basics" and follow a less sensational path than of late with the emphasis on family relations and suburban reality. Executive producer Ric Pellizzeri said new writers, actors and sets would bring the soap back to its glory days. He added "We moved too far into event-driven stories rather than the character-driven stories that made Neighbours what it is". The relaunch failed to attract more viewers in Australia. Pellizzeri left the series at the end of 2007 and former Neighbours scriptwriter, Susan Bower, became the new executive producer. In 2008, Neighbours was branded "too white" by black and Asian viewers in Britain and in Australia there was talk of a "White Australia policy" when it came to casting actors for soaps. In response to the criticism, Bower made a decision to add more ethnically diverse extras, small walk on roles and speaking parts, as well as introducing the character of Sunny Lee (played by Hany Lee) an exchange student from South Korea.
On 18 March 2010, Neighbours celebrated its 25th anniversary. In April, Channel 5 in the UK launched a search to find a female actress to play the part of Poppy Rogers. The search was similar to the Dolly magazine competition in Australia. August saw Neighbours air its 6000th episode. Digital Spy revealed that the week-long 6000th episode celebrations would see the wedding of regular characters, Donna Freedman (Margot Robbie) and Ringo Brown (Sam Clark). It was later announced that an attempt on the life of long term regular, Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) would be the focus of the actual 6000th episode. Bower said "Last week I saw episode 6,000. This marks Australian television history. The 6,000th episode falls on a Friday so the whole week is a special one. As Stefan Dennis – Paul Robinson – was in the first episode 25 years ago, it was decided that his character play a most important role in this very special event".
In late 2010, TV Tonight reported that Neighbours would reduce crew operations in 2011 so production could be upgraded. The changes meant that the location manager and catering team were no longer required, studio shoots would be reduced from three cameras to two, and location shots would be mainly confined to the Ramsay Street and Lassiter's complex sets, with occasional filming in one-off places. Of the changes, FremantleMedia said "Neighbours is undergoing a work flow upgrade to accommodate advances in technology and production techniques to ensure we are at the forefront of professionalism and efficiency." They added that the show's production model had been in place since 1985 and that it was time to evolve it. On 14 March 2011, The Australian reported that Neighbours has become the first television show available to watch on a free iPhone application. Viewers are able to watch whole episodes within three hours of them airing on Eleven. Nick Spooner, the head of Ten digital media said "This is part of what we call our 'three-screen approach' – broadcast, online and mobile – and it is intended to build viewer engagement with a show and our brand. This is a way for us to stay in touch with our audience and to keep them coming back." To celebrate the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton, Neighbours filmed a specially commissioned scene for the UK episode airing on the same day as the wedding. The episode, which had already aired in Australia, marked the first time an Australian show recorded extra scenes for a UK broadcaster.
On 25 October 2011, it was announced Bower would be leaving Neighbours in December 2011 to move into a new international role with FremantleMedia. Of her departure, Bower told Colin Vickery of the Herald Sun, "I love Neighbours, it is a wonderful show and because of this I felt it was important that fresh eyes and brains take over to keep this Australian icon contemporary. Having said that, I'm really excited about the new role and thank FremantleMedia for this wonderful opportunity." Former City Homicide producer, Richard Jasek, took over Bower's role, while Alan Hardy took over the role of producer. On 4 December 2013, it was confirmed that Jasek would be leaving Neighbours and Jason Herbison had been promoted to series producer. FremantleMedia's head of drama Jo Porter became executive producer, while Laurence Wilson became the associate producer. The show celebrated its 7000th episode on 24 October 2014. In March 2015, Neighbours celebrated its 30th anniversary and twelve former cast members returned for the anniversary episodes that revolved around an Erinsborough Festival. Network Ten and Channel 5 aired a documentary special titled Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite, which featured interviews with current and former cast members, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce, reflecting on their time on the show. Natalie Lynch succeeded Wilson as producer in early 2016.
In 2017, there was speculation that Neighbours would cease production following the breakdown of its deals in the United Kingdom, and Network Ten entering voluntary administration. On 9 October 2017, Stewart Clarke of Variety reported that Channel 5 and FremantleMedia had agreed a new deal that would see the yearly episode count increased from 240 to 258, as well as plans for new primetime specials. The deal meant that from 2018, Neighbours would run across the full year for the first time in its history, including over December and January. Herbison stated, "We value our global audiences and are delighted to stay on this journey together. Come the end of 2018 we will also make history by becoming the first Australian drama series to screen all year round." Following the departure of Sonya Rebecchi in 2019, actor Eve Morey stated that the killing off of her character was a measure to reduce production costs for the program as part of its new negotiations. When the cast and crew returned from their annual production break on 13 January 2020, they filmed a scene addressing the Australian bushfires for the episode airing on 15 January. The scene features the characters Sheila Canning (Colette Mann), David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) and Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) discussing the fires and a charity event Sheila is organising. Channel 5 then directed its viewers to a dedicated information page on their website at the end of the episode. Neighbours suspended production for two days amid the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, after a crew member came into contact with a person who had the virus. Production shut down early for the scheduled Easter break, before resuming after four weeks on 27 April 2020 making Neighbours the first mainstream scripted show to resume production during the pandemic. In order to adhere to government guidelines and social-distancing, Neighbours created separate areas to spread out the cast and crew. They removed intimate scenes between characters and editing allows producers to give the illusion of large crowds and groups. Daily temperature checks for cast and crew will also be carried out. Herbison said Coronavirus would not be included in storylines. He stated, "We are currently plotting episodes that won't air until much later in the year, so anything we write now might feel very outdated. Further to this, there's a creative question: will our viewers want to switch on Neighbours and relive it again, or is our job to provide escapism? I tend to feel it's the latter."
Neighbours' main focus is the fictional Ramsay Street, a residential cul-de-sac in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough. The street was named after the grandfather of original character Max Ramsay (Francis Bell). Other locations include Erinsborough High School, the garage (local mechanic), hospital, and the Lassiter's complex, which contains the Lassiter's Hotel, Waterhole bar, Harold's Store café, the lawyers office Rebecchi Law, and the police station. Ahead of the 25th anniversary the Erinsborough village set underwent a makeover. The café and bar remained the same, but the centre of the complex was upgraded. Lassiter's Hotel was given a new logo and gained a second floor with outdoor seating area. The hospital and police station received new facades, a used car lot was created near the garage and a new university set was created.
Pin Oak Court, in Vermont South, is the real cul-de-sac that doubles for Ramsay Street. All of the houses featured in the show are real and the residents allow Neighbours to shoot external scenes in their front and back yards and on occasions, in their garages. Neighbours has been filmed in Pin Oak Court since the series began in 1985 and it has since become popular with tourists. Tours to the cul-de-sac run throughout the year. The interior scenes are filmed at the Global Television studios in Forest Hill, the adjoining suburb in which Pin Oak Court is located.
Through much of the show's run, it was not stated in which Australian city Erinsborough was located. The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne meant that scripts did not mention that Erinsborough was a suburb of the latter city, until 1994. Since the 2000s, it has been explicitly stated that Erinsborough is a suburb of Melbourne. Since 2016, the show has begun filming more scenes in and around the city. Other Australian locations mentioned and sometimes seen in the series include the fictitious suburbs of West Waratah, Eden Hills, and Ansons Corner. Real-life Australian towns in the state of Victoria such as Colac, Frankston and Shepparton are sometimes referred to. Oakey in Queensland is also mentioned and sometimes seen.
On 27 August 2010, Neighbours filmed scenes in Sydney's Darling Harbour and on board a cruise ship. The episodes marked only the third time that the show has filmed scenes outside of Victoria. In October 2011, Neighbours filmed scenes in Port Douglas, Queensland and around the Great Barrier Reef region. Two storylines were filmed in Geelong and the Gold Coast in 2016. In March 2019, Neighbours filmed scenes at the 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for an episode airing in 2020. The serial also had its own float during the parade. Later that year, scenes for Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) and Terese Willis' (Rebekah Elmaloglou) wedding were filmed at a resort in Queensland.
Filming locations outside of Australia have included Kenya, the United States and the United Kingdom, which has seen Neighbours episodes filmed there on a number of occasions. In February 1990, Lyme Park in Cheshire doubled as the Ledgerwood estate set in Yorkshire. Derek Nimmo guest-starred as the fictitious Lord Ledgerwood in two of the episodes. In November 1992, the characters Rick Alessi (Dan Falzon) and Debbie Martin (Marnie Reece-Wilmore) visit London to attend a Michael Jackson concert. However, producers could not film at the concert after negotiations with Jackson's tour management failed. The second London-based storyline was broadcast in late March 2007. Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) and Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) are shown taking a ride on the London Eye and being married on a boat on the River Thames.
Three further storylines shot on location in London aired in March 2017, March 2018, and September 2019. The show was due to film in Ireland for the first time in March 2020, before the shoot was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its entire run in Australia, Neighbours has been screened as a 22-minute episode each weeknight in an early-evening slot. Until 2018, Neighbours was on air for approximately forty-four weeks per year, and broadcast from early January to early December, before going off air for around four to five weeks during the Christmas and New Year period. The show currently airs all year round, at 6:30 pm on 10 Peach (formerly Eleven). The last month's worth of episodes shown are available to watch on the Neighbours official Australian website, as a part of Network Ten's Catch Up TV service. 10 Peach also broadcast the last five aired episodes shown in an omnibus edition each Sunday.
When the show began in 1985, the first season was broadcast on the Seven Network, at 5:30 pm in Sydney, at 6:00 pm in Melbourne and Adelaide and at 7:00 pm in Brisbane. The show's transmission in other areas was varied and many regional channels declined to purchase the series. When the show debuted on Network Ten in 1986 it screened at 7:00 pm. On 9 March 1992 the show moved to 6:30 pm to avoid direct competition from rival soap opera Home and Away on the Seven Network. Repeat episodes of Neighbours episodes from the 1988–1991 period were broadcast between 2000 and June 2003 on Network Ten. These episodes were seen at 3:30 pm, before moving to 11:30 am. During 2008 Ten HD broadcast the previous week's episodes in an omnibus edition each Sunday. These omnibus editions did not return in 2009 as Ten HD was replaced by One HD from March 2009.
In August 2010, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that Neighbours would be moving to Ten's new digital channel, to make way for a new current affairs show. They said "It's part of a re-branding of Ten's free-to-air channel, targeting the older demographic. The 'younger' shows, like Neighbours, will go on to one of Ten's digital channels". It was later confirmed that the show would be moving to digital channel, Eleven. Network Ten's programmer, David Mott said "We believe Neighbours is perfectly suited to Eleven's audience strategy and will find a successful and enduring home on Eleven". Neighbours moved to Eleven on 11 January 2011, the channel's launch day. Throughout 2013, Eleven had broadcast repeat episodes of Neighbours from the 2007 period, titled Old School Neighbours, during weekday mornings. In 2015, Network Ten had broadcast an encore of the previous day's episode at 7:00 am weekdays. In 2018, for the first time in the series' history, the show's classification became PG, due to the series' increasing subject matter.
Neighbours has been sold to over 60 countries around the world and is one of Australia's most successful media exports.
Neighbours has been very successful in the United Kingdom and has proved to be more popular there than in Australia. It was broadcast on BBC One for over 21 years from October 1986 until February 2008. The series started airing on 27 October 1986, as part of BBC One's revamped daytime schedules. Neighbours went out with a lunchtime broadcast and then a morning broadcast repeat the following day. Michael Grade, the channel's then controller, was advised by his daughter to move the morning broadcast repeat to a late afternoon slot, as she and her friends kept missing it due to them being at school, which took place from 4 January 1988. The show then started attracting larger audiences, peaking at over 21 million viewers on 26 February 1990, an aggregated figure that combined the lunchtime debut and the teatime repeat. Towards the late 2000s, Neighbours was normally attracting an average of 3 million viewers for its lunchtime showing and 2.6 million viewers for its early-evening repeat. It was frequently the highest-rating daytime programme in the UK, outside of news bulletins.
In 2008, the UK broadcast moved to rival channel Channel 5 following the BBC's decision not to keep the show after being asked to pay £300m over eight years by FremantleMedia (three times the show's usual fee). Both Channel 5 and FremantleMedia were owned at that time by the German RTL Group. The first episode to be shown on Channel 5 was watched by 2.4 million viewers on 11 February 2008 (an audience share of 14.2%), a drop of 300,000 from the BBC's average. However, the move boosted Channel 5's usual share for the 5.30 pm slot by three and a half times. UK viewers are able to catch up with episodes with Channel 5's video catch up service, Demand 5, similar to the catch up service in Australia. Channel 5 also have a deal with YouTube, allowing viewers to watch episodes for free on the video sharing site after they have been transmitted. From 4 January 2016, Channel 5 began broadcasting episodes on the same day as Australia. Channel 5's commissioning editor Greg Barnett explained that closing the transmission gap would reduce spoilers and the number of viewers watching the show illegally online. From mid-2016, the show also began airing every week-night on Nickelodeon as part of their Nick at Nite programming block, broadcasting the same episode that was earlier seen on Channel 5. In March 2017, it was reported that negotiations to continue Neighbours on Channel 5 had become "very fraught", and it was possible that the show could stop airing in Britain.
In New Zealand, Neighbours is broadcast on TV2 at 6 pm weekdays. It currently runs episodes approximately two weeks behind the Australian and UK broadcasts. The show was initially broadcast by TVNZ on 25 July 1988, but by 1996 it was removed from the schedule. TV4 (now C4) picked the show up and began broadcasting it from 1997. They dropped it in 2000 and it returned to TV2 in 2002. Repeats of the previous day's episode of Neighbours were formerly shown at 2:30 pm weekdays and are now shown at 11.00 am weekdays. The show moved to 5:25 pm weeknights on TV One in late 2007. After a couple of months, the show moved to 3:50 pm weekdays. The show eventually moved back to TV2, screening weeknights at 6. The TV2 website offers viewers the chance to watch episodes online with its OnDemand service.
In Ireland, Neighbours is broadcast weekdays on RTÉ One at 14.00 and again on RTÉ Two at 18.00. It is also available on the RTÉ Player. Like Channel 5, RTÉ shows each episode on the same day as it airs in Australia. FremantleMedia secured a long term deal with RTÉ in 2007 for RTÉ to continue transmitting the show in Ireland. While RTÉ have only broadcast Neighbours since 2000, it has been available to and popular with Irish viewers since it debuted on BBC One in 1986, as BBC One is widely available in the Republic of Ireland.
In Kenya, Neighbours is broadcast on the KTN network Monday to Friday at 12:30 pm with an omnibus on Sunday mornings. In Barbados, Neighbours is broadcast on the CBC8 channel at 1:00 pm Monday to Friday.
In Canada, CFMT-TV in Toronto broadcast Neighbours on weeknights at 11:00 pm, starting in September 1990. From 20 May 1991, CFMT moved the show to 4:00 pm. After announcing its cancellation, CFMT decided to keep Neighbours on its schedule throughout September 1994, following numerous letters and telephone calls. From April 2017 to April 2019, Neighbours aired on OutTV. Episodes were broadcast on weekdays at 2:30 pm ET and 5:30 pm ET, with an omnibus on Saturdays. Episodes aired on the same day as the Australian broadcast and were also available for streaming.
In the United States, Neighbours premiered on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles on 3 June 1991 at 5:30 pm weekdays. KCOP planned to cancel the show by the end of the month due to low ratings, but brought it back due to viewer demand at a 9:30 am daily time slot from 1 July to 30 August 1991. New York City station WWOR-TV showed Neighbours weekdays 5:30 pm from 17 June to 17 September 1991. 65 selected episodes were aired from the beginning to where Charlene leaves Ramsay Street in 1988 in both markets. In April 2004, the show began broadcasting nationally on the television channel Oxygen. A spokeswomen from the channel said "Now our viewers can join in on the good, the bad and the endlessly entertaining lives of our Aussie neighbours." The episodes started from the Scully family's arrival in 1999 and were aired for a six-week trial basis. The show was broadcast in the afternoon with two episodes being shown back to back at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm. After a couple of weeks, and only 65 episodes aired, the show was moved to a late-night time slot and it eventually left the air. On 7 July 2014, Todd Spangler from Variety reported that FremantleMedia International had signed a deal with U.S. subscription service Hulu giving it exclusive rights to the most recent season of Neighbours. The soap began airing from 14 July, with new episodes airing daily from Monday through to Friday, on Hulu and Hulu Plus services. The episodes were four weeks behind the Australian broadcast. All episodes of Neighbours were later removed from Hulu.
Popularity and viewership
Neighbours initially aired on Seven Network where it struggled to attract high ratings leading to its cancellation by the network four months after it premiered. The series was then picked up by Network Ten. After the usual break in broadcast over the summer non-ratings period the series made its debut on Ten in 1986. Ten revamped the show, adding several new, younger cast members including Jason Donovan as Scott Robinson and Kylie Minogue as Charlene Mitchell. When the show began on Ten it initially attracted low ratings, so the Network worked hard to publicise the series. Ten's publicity drive was designed to promote the show in a star-focused campaign recalling that of the Hollywood star system where stars were packaged to feed into a fan culture. This paid off and by the end of 1987 ratings had improved for the show. The episode featuring Scott and Charlene's wedding achieved the highest ever ratings for Neighbours and it became one of the highest rating soap episodes ever in Australia. The same episode attracted 19.6 million viewers when it was aired in the United Kingdom.
By the early 1990s, Australian audiences had decreased although viewing figures had recovered slightly by the end of the decade. In 1992, due to the decline in ratings, producers began to overhaul the show to win back viewers. They brought in more "fresh-faced teens", moved out older characters and gave some of their parent characters "un-neighborly [sic] subplots". Executive producer Ian Bradley said the changes were an attempt to return to the show's original concept. In 1994, Network Ten told TV Week that they would be introducing a "younger, livelier look with six regular characters under the age of 18" in a bid to generate interest. It was then that they introduced the characters of Stonefish Rebecchi played by Anthony Engelman and Serendipity Gottlieb played by Raelee Hill.
In 1996, Kimberley Davies, who played Annalise Hartman, quit the series. Then Caroline Gillmer fell ill and her character Cheryl Stark was temporarily recast with former Prisoner actress Colette Mann. This made producers nervous that viewing figures might decrease, so they implemented a series of plots to keep viewers interested. These included a cameo from Clive James and an explosion, which destroyed the doctor's surgery in the Lassiter's complex.
In the 2000s, rival soap opera Home and Away emerged as more popular than Neighbours in Australia. As of 2004, Neighbours was regularly attracting just under a million viewers per episode. In 2007, Home and Away was averaging 1.4 million viewers in Australia to Neighbours' 700,000. During the revamp of 2007, the episode broadcast on 23 July 2007 saw the introduction of a new family, updated sets, new theme music and graphics. Ratings for that episode averaged 1.05 million viewers in the 6:30 pm. slot. It was the first time the programme's viewing figures had topped 1 million in 2007. By the end of 2007 it was reported that producers had hoped the Neighbours revamp would push the ratings up to between 900,000 to 1 million an episode. It had, however, resulted in a more modest boost, with ratings hovering at about 800,000 a night. The same viewing period had shown an increase in ratings for Home and Away, which was now averaging 1.4 million viewers every night.
In February 2008, new executive producer, Susan Bower, announced that she would be implementing further changes to the programme. Bower promised to retain the return to traditional Neighbours values, but with an injection of drama that remains recognisable and relevant. Ratings rose to almost 900,000 in mid-2008, but generally ratings begin to fall towards the end of each year, usually averaging around 700,000. On 17 July 2009, during the aftermath of the Parker family's car accident and the dramatic death of Bridget Parker (Eloise Mignon), Neighbours achieved higher ratings than Home And Away. Neighbours achieved 998,000 viewers and placed 6th for the night, Home And Away placed 7th.
In January 2010, Neighbours returned to Australian screens to an audience of 563,000. On 20 January, the ratings fell to a low of 426,000, making it one of the programme's lowest ever ratings in Australia. A July 2010 report showed figures had dropped 20%, from having 1.2 million viewers in 1991 to a low of 618,000 in 2010. A Network Ten spokesperson commented "Most of the show's budget is covered by its UK deal with Channel 5 and the 50-odd other countries it is seen in, so it's not a financial problem for Ten despite the low ratings. And Ten needs the show to score the Australian content and drama points required for it to hold on to a broadcasting licence". On 29 October 2010, Neighbours' ratings dropped to a low figure of 386,000 viewers. Viewing numbers for Network Ten that night were down across all programmes. The show's highest figure of the week was 590,000 on 25 October 2010.
Since moving to digital multichannel Eleven, Neighbours has traditionally rated between 250,000 and 350,000 viewers. The show attracted 254,000 viewers for its first episode broadcast on 11 January 2011. This was half the number of viewers that watched it on Network Ten; the Herald Sun reported that it was a good result as "bosses were only expecting 133,000." Neighbours became Eleven's most-watched show and the third highest rating show on digital multichannels that night. Programming chief, David Mott stated "Last night's strong result for Neighbours already suggests the audience will follow the folks from Ramsay Street to their brand new neighbourhood on Eleven." On 24 January 2011, Neighbours achieved 330,000 viewers and three days later 355,000 viewers tuned in, becoming the show's highest rating yet on Eleven at the time. The show had more viewers than the Ten Evening News in the 16–39 and 18–49 demographic. On 13 June 2011, Neighbours was watched by 455,000 viewers, making it the highest rating show on digital multichannels that night and breaking its previous ratings record on the channel. On 27 May 2013, episode 6651 of Neighbours was watched by an audience of 405,000 viewers, which was the highest rating the series had achieved in nearly two years. Neighbours began going through a ratings decline in 2016, with episodes now averaging below 200,000 viewers. Executive producer Jason Herbison told TV Tonight, "We know that our show is performing really solidly in the UK. We're not sure why it's not here [in Australia] but we're taking a real look at it." He further added, "We're all trying to figure out what we need to do in order to keep our audience." The first episode screened on Eleven in March 2018 gained only 118,000 viewers. As of 2021, Neighbours has seen a recovery to around 450,000 viewers per episode in the UK - securing close to the 1 million viewers figure every day (due to episodes airing twice daily).
Neighbours storylines frequently focus on family problems, intergenerational clashes, school problems, romances and domestic issues. Despite the restrictive 6:30 pm time slot, Neighbours has also covered many serious problems such as teenage pregnancy, marital breakdown, imprisonment, career problems, financial problems, pregnancy, abortion, terminal illness, eating disorders, alcoholism, adultery, drug use and drug trafficking, robbery, stalking, kidnapping, accidental death, hit-and-runs, murder, shootings, stabbings, and incest. In the 2000s and 2010s, the show dealt with issues such as homosexuality, gambling, prostitution, surrogacy, and exotic dancing. Health issues were also focused on, including multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, amnesia, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and alzheimer's disease. In September 2014, the show featured a natural disaster storyline, in which a tornado descended on Erinsborough and Ramsay Street.
In 1985, Neighbours started out with three families created by Watson – the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes. Watson said that he wanted to show three families living in a small street, who are friends. Max Ramsay (Francis Bell), his wife Maria (Dasha Blahova) and their sons Shane (Peter O'Brien) and Danny (David Clencie) lived at No.24 Ramsay Street. Single father, Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) lived next door with his children, Paul (Stefan Dennis), Julie (Vikki Blanche), Scott (Darius Perkins) and Lucy (Kylie Flinker). His mother-in-law, Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) also lived with him. Bachelor Des Clarke (Paul Keane) invited Daphne Lawrence (Elaine Smith) to live at No. 28 with him and they were later married. The Robinsons and the Ramsays had a long history in the street and they were often involved in an ongoing rivalry. When Network Ten picked up the show and revamped it, they brought in new and younger actors including Kylie Minogue as Charlene Mitchell and Jason Donovan, who replaced Darius Perkins as Scott Robinson. Many families, including the Alessi, Bishop, Hancock, Hoyland, Rebecchi, Scully, Timmins and Willis families have moved in and out of the street over the years.
When storylines for certain characters become tired, the scriptwriters simply move one family out and replace it with a new one. Ramsay Street is now a mixture of older characters like Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis), Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney), and Karl (Alan Fletcher) and Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne), as well as newer characters such as the Canning and Brennan families. Watson originally wanted to show young people communicating with older people, which means that the cast is a mix of young actors in their teens or early 20s and older, more experienced hands. The last remaining original character, Helen Daniels, departed the show in 1997 due to the ill-health of Anne Haddy. In 2004, original cast member Stefan Dennis returned to Neighbours full-time as Paul Robinson. Paul is currently the only remaining original character in the series.
In February 2009, it was announced that producers would be introducing a new generation of the Ramsay family to the show, over a decade after the family had last appeared. Kate (Ashleigh Brewer), Harry (Will Moore) and Sophie Ramsay (Kaiya Jones) made their first appearances in May 2009. Later that year, actor James Mason was cast in the role of Chris Pappas, who became the first prominent, ongoing gay male character in the show's history. He was the second ongoing gay character overall, following recurring character Lana Crawford's (Bridget Neval) introduction in 2004. In 2018, Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) and David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) were married, the first same-sex marriage to feature in an Australian television drama following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia. The first transgender character, played by Georgie Stone, was introduced in late 2019.
Celebrity guest appearances
Throughout its run, Neighbours has featured several guest appearances from celebrities playing themselves or characters. Early cameos included former Skyhooks musician Red Symons, Warwick Capper, Molly Meldrum, Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys, and Clive James. During the 2000s and 2010s, the series featured appearances from The Wiggles, Shane Warne, former Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton, Little Britain's Matt Lucas and David Walliams, The Veronicas, Daryl Braithwaite, wrestler Dave Bautista, Lily Allen, Katherine Kelly Lang, André Rieu, Paula Abdul and Jamie Lawson.
The theme tune to Neighbours was composed by Tony Hatch whose then wife, Jackie Trent, wrote the lyrics. Since 1985, there have been eight versions of the theme tune. Barry Crocker performed the song until 1992. The song has been voted the world's most recognised television theme song and the lyrics were quoted by John Smith, then British Shadow Chancellor, in a House of Commons debate on Government economic policy. From 2007, the theme tune to Neighbours was sung by Sandra de Jong. In February 2013, Network Ten and FremantleMedia announced that they were searching across Australia and the United Kingdom for a singer to record a new version of the theme tune. The competition resulted in a tie and the new theme was sung as a duet by Daniel Boys and Stephanie Angelini. That version of the theme tune began airing from 15 April 2013. A new retro-inspired theme tune sung by Garth Ploog debuted on 5 January 2015 as part of the show's 30th anniversary celebrations. A new version of the theme, sung by Neighbours actress and singer Bonnie Anderson debuted on 25 March 2020.
Since Neighbours began in 1985, it has used its opening titles sequence to introduce the major characters which currently feature in the show. The sequences often feature the characters in family or domestic groups. Each episode's titles sequence was preceded by a recap of events from recent episodes featuring the characters who were to appear in the new episode.
In 2002, Neighbours debuted an all new style of titles with a remixed version of the theme tune. The titles showed characters together in groups according to gender, a change from the previous ones which were taken outside. 2007 saw Neighbours debut an updated theme, a new logo and new "optimistic, contemporary" titles. A photo booth montage was played and characters were seen rowing boats, walking along piers and eating outside. The sequence also contained shots of upcoming scenes. In August 2009, Neighbours introduced a new titles format. The first episode of each week begins with a trailer previewing the week's events. The usual recap of storylines switched to after the opening titles of each episode for the first time since 1998. The end of episode teasers returned and are now made in-house by the Neighbours production team.
In September 2009, Susan Bower announced that Neighbours would introduce new opening titles for the 25th anniversary and they would feature a bit of "bling". The titles were created by Visual Playground, who shot a series of scenes featuring the cast in settings familiar to viewers. The titles made their debut on 18 March 2010. A new set of opening titles made their debut on 15 April 2013, along with a new version of the theme tune. Visual Playground once again created and produced the titles. The titles depict the Ramsay Street residents gathering outside their houses for a street party. A writer for Visual Playground explained that they "invented a bokeh graphic device that uses the play of light in a formation to locate the houses in the cul-de-sac. Six overlapping circles represent the six houses of Ramsay St and the off street cast members. All the circles together reinforce the sense of community that makes up Neighbours." A new retro-inspired logo, theme tune and opening titles debuted on 5 January 2015 as part of the show's 30th anniversary celebrations. The new logo is a reimagined contemporary version of the original Neighbours logo from 1985. The titles show characters in a variety of familiar settings around Erinsborough and ends with a look at Ramsay Street from above.
On 9 January 2017, a new set of opening titles debuted. The titles featured the cast members posing in front of green screen, instead of on the sets. Viewers also noticed that actors Ryan Moloney, Colette Mann and Zoe Cramond had their names misspelled. The spelling errors were corrected by the production team and the edited titles debuted the following day. The opening title sequence was updated in April 2017, following the arrival of the new Rebecchi family. The style of the titles was not changed, but most of the cast shots were re-filmed. On 21 May 2018, a new title sequence debuted. They are a return to the previous style of a live-action sequence filmed on the set.
Awards and nominations
Neighbours has received a wide variety of awards and nominations throughout its run. The show has received 89 Logie Award nominations, of which it has won 31. It was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame in 2005. It has also been nominated for "Most Popular Daytime Programme" at the UK's National Television Awards in five of the six years from 2000 to 2006. In 1997, the show won an award for Best Episode in A Television Drama Serial at the Australian Film Institute Awards. Two Neighbours actors have been nominated for Rose D'Or awards, once in 2004 for Ryan Moloney and again in 2005 for Jackie Woodburne. Neighbours has also won six Australian Writers' Guild awards.
Home media and spin-offs
Since the show's inception, several spin-offs have been produced, including books, music, DVDs and internet webisodes. In 1991, an officially licensed video game of Neighbours was created by Ian Copeland and developed by Zeppelin Games under their Impulze label for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST, and Amiga; it was re-released by Zeppelin in 1992 on budget price. In the game, the player took on the role of Scott Robinson and had to skateboard around four whole courses.
Episodes of Neighbours have been released on several DVDs. Neighbours: Defining Moments was the first DVD box set released in 2002. It is a compilation of fifteen classic episodes and a photo gallery. The Neighbours: The Iconic Episodes Volume 1 DVD box set was released in 2008 and contains twenty-three episodes, the 1000th episode party celebration special and a photo gallery. Neighbours: The Iconic Episodes Volume Two contains twenty-four episodes over three discs. One disc is dedicated to the character of Charlene. In 2012, early episodes of Neighbours were released on three DVD box sets in Germany. From April 2012, Shock Entertainment began releasing DVD box sets of Neighbours episodes in broadcast order from the beginning. As of October 2014, five box sets have been released.
Neighbours has released several internet webisode series via their YouTube channel. The first series was titled Steph in Prison and coincided with Stephanie Scully's (Carla Bonner) return to Neighbours in April 2013. The following year, Brennan on the Run focusing on Mark Brennan's (Scott McGregor) time in witness protection was released. Neighbours vs Zombies was launched in October 2014 and featured the returns of many former characters who had previously died in the show. In October 2017, the five-part Neighbours vs Time Travel series was released. It features Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) going back to 1985 and giving his younger self some advice, which alters the future.
A remake produced in Italy titled Un posto al sole (A Place in the Sun) is set in a big villa in front of the sea in Naples. The soap opera has screened since 1996 and is broadcast by Rai3, a public channel of RAI.
Based, initially, on the original story and character outlines, Komşular began screening in Turkey in 2017 based on Neighbours storylines from 2012.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Neighbours (soap opera).|
- Neighbours at the Official AU website
- Neighbours at the Official UK website
- Neighbours at IMDb
- Neighbours at What's on TV