How Neighbors got banned from the airwaves by All Creatures Great and Small | Neighbors

Jhe residents of Ramsay Street have survived nearly four decades of business, disaster and terrible haircuts – but in the end, it may be the popularity of a 1930s Yorkshire vet that ends up kill Neighbors.

The long-running soap opera that launched the careers of Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce and Margot Robbie is facing the ax after Channel 5 confirmed it would stop airing the series this summer. The broadcaster no longer wants to spend millions of pounds a year on the show and is instead looking to use its program budget to reach high-end audiences with quirky British drama – buoyed by the success of All Creatures Great And Small, its successful revival of the series about rural life in the Yorkshire Dales.

Over 20 million viewers watched Scott and Charlene’s wedding on Neighbours. Photography: FremantleMedia Ltd/REX

Neighbors is made in Australia, but its popularity has declined in its home country. As a result, the cost of making it is largely covered by Britain’s Channel 5, which has been the show’s UK home since it poached the program from the BBC in 2008 in a £300million deal. of pounds sterling.

“Neighbors will no longer be shown on Channel 5 beyond this summer,” a spokesperson said. “We recognize there will be disappointment about this decision, but our current focus is to increase our investment in original British drama, which has strong appeal to our viewers.”

Neighbors launched Guy Pearce's career.
Neighbors launched Guy Pearce’s career. Photography: Moviestore Collection/REX

Unless Neighbors production company Fremantle urgently finds a new overseas broadcaster to subsidize it, the longest-running drama in Australian television history will end this summer after 37 years on screen. It’s still one of Channel 5’s most-watched programs, drawing around a million viewers a day, but it’s expensive to make and its cancellation appears to be part of the broadcaster’s effort to shed its reputation as a TV hotbed. of “movies, football and fucking”.

Channel 5 has reinvented itself over the past decade under its boss, Ben Frow, often going against industry trends and embracing an older regional audience who still watch TV when rivals hunt young viewers on streaming services. As a result, it has steadily built up its following through programs about the Royal Family, steam trains and almost anything with Yorkshire in the title.

Channel 5 used to buy the rights to American dramas, but decided to go back to commissioning its own original British dramas in 2008. Its breakthrough hit was All Creatures Great and Small, a reboot of the much-loved series from the 1970s and 80s, launched during the pandemic, It drew the channel’s highest ratings in five years and was a critical success.

The Guardian’s review described it as “a sweet, gentle, deliberately sweet remake of a program you vaguely remember watching all those years ago” and “the TV equivalent of getting your brain out and immerse it in a bucket of hot tea”. It also reached a large audience in the United States, where viewers saw the allure of watching a veterinarian drive a vintage car through the English countryside before being hit by a cow.

Channel 5 remake of All Creatures Great and Small.
Channel 5’s “sweet, sweet, deliberately sweet remake” of All Creatures Great and Small. Photo: Matt Squire/AP

Although these shows are expensive to make, they can also attract large audiences and the wealthier viewers that advertisers want to reach. Last week, Channel 5 aired the four-episode original series The Teacher starring Sheridan Smith, which drew over 2 million viewers every night, far more than Channel 4 in the same timeslot. Following other successes, including thriller The Drowning, Channel 5 has announced plans to double its spending on original British drama this year.

Margot Robbie had her chance on Neighbours.
Margot Robbie had her chance on Neighbours. Photography: FremantleMedia/REX

Frow, an idiosyncratic figure in the industry, has previously canned other long-running Channel 5 series, including Big Brother, to free up budget and airtime for his own commissions. A spokesperson declined to comment on the suggestion that the channel may also want to scrap Home and Away, another long-running Australian soap opera that has aired for two decades.

As for Neighbours, the show’s cast and crew have been warned that filming could wrap up in June, giving them months to wrap up any existing storylines. There is speculation that they may be trying to persuade previous stars – such as Minogue and Donovan – to return to the program for one last appearance, in the hope that Good Neighbors can become Good Endings.

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