Cast your minds back to 2016 and Neighbours fans were delighted when the show finally began airing episodes on the same day in both the UK and Australia, and it was a big deal at the time too.
The synching up between the two countries was huge news and many reported on it, while fans were finally able to talk about what was happening on screen at the same time. In the age of social media, it was a big relief as many were growing tired of having plot details spoiled for them ahead of time.
Fast forward to 2020 and that all changed with the show once again falling behind by three weeks, which, admittedly, is better than the 18-month gap that we had over here back in the day.
Why did Neighbours fall behind Australia?
Like almost everything in 2020, this can be blamed on COVID. Back when the world first started going into lockdown, production was halted on Neighbours and as a means of ensuring the show remained on the air, Channel 5 opted to reduce the weekly output from five episodes to two… dark times indeed.
As it turns out, that was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction from the soaps UK home as while the show did indeed stop filming, they did not stop for longer than a regular production break and they were, in fact, one of the first shows in the world hit by the pandemic to get back to work, paving the way for the other soaps to follow suit.
In Australia, Neighbours continued uninterrupted and did not miss a day, hence the gap that now exists.
When will Neighbours catch up with Australia?
Well, that’s the question. It seems to us that the perfect time to do so appears to be right around the corner with sister soap, Home and Away, likely to take its annual break in the coming weeks. We do not have a date for this yet but when it does, it would be the perfect time for Neighbours to double up- maybe even just once or twice a week depending on how long H&A is off the air. If it is not done then, we cannot think of another opportunity to do it- so the gap could be here to stay.
The other option, of course, is that Neighbours takes a break in its home country at some point, though when this could happen though is anybody’s guess. It is unlikely to happen over the festive season as the writers would likely have storylines in place to match up with Christmas and New Year, but a break early into 2021 is possible, although we aren’t getting our hopes up.
Whenever it happens, if it does at all, one thing for certain is that the fans are keen for it to be done sooner rather than later. A Twitter campaign earlier in the year did not seem to get the attention of the show or Channel 5, while 5 themselves still say they have no updates when we contacted them for comment.
While popular fan groups and podcasts, such as Neighbuzz, are impacted by the gap with audiences not able to listen and talk about the show together as a community like they once were. For a show all about community, we hope that this is sorted soon and we can all enjoy the soap together again. Avoiding spoilers is no fun at all.