Neighbours’ future on British screens has been assured today after a new deal between UK broadcaster Channel 5 was reached with FremantleMedia.
Earlier this year, the long-running Australian soap’s domestic broadcaster Ten Network went into voluntary administration, sparking fears the show could be axed if it lost a network in its home territory.
Today, after months of uncertainty, Channel 5 announced a ‘multi-year’ deal with the soap’s production company FremantleMedia that will keep the programme’s place on British TV – presumably regardless of Ten’s ultimate fate in Australia – while also increasing the number of episodes produced annually, meaning for the first time ever Neighbours will air for 52 weeks of the year without its traditional Christmas break from 2018.
Channel 5 and FremantleMedia have also revealed plans to collaborate on a number of annual special episodes, with the first earmarked for early next year which will launch major new storylines.
Neighbours’ executive producer, Jason Herbison, said of the deal: “I’m excited to keep delivering our worldwide viewers with their daily fix of Ramsay Street. 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.”
The iconic Aussie soap started in 1985 and began broadcasting in the UK on 27 October 1986 on BBC1, and moved to Channel 5 in early 2008. It is Australia’s longest-running drama series and one of the most successful television exports in history, famously launching the careers of Kylie Minogue, Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce and Jason Donovan among others.
The show still performs well for Channel 5, rating as the network’s top-rated daytime show with episodic audiences of up to 1.2 million total viewers.
Neighbours continues weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm.