Neighbors fans are heartbroken after Channel 5 confirmed that it will stop airing the Australian soap opera after this summer.
The much-loved daytime drama about the residents of Ramsay Street first aired on Australia’s Seven in 1985 and debuted on the BBC the following year.
The future of the soap opera, which launched the careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Natalie Imbruglia and Hollywood star Margot Robbie, is now in doubt because its funding depends on the UK broadcaster.
Channel 5 has said removing the soap will allow funds to be diverted to original UK dramas, leaving fans in tears.
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A ‘Channel 5 – Don’t Ax Neighbors’ petition has been launched calling for Channel Five to reverse the decision.
And Jason Donovan, who played soap opera hunk Scott Robinson from 1986 to 1989, has pleaded for it to find a new home.
@davee_evans tweeted: “A real shame.”
@Danniishelleyxx said: “My mother cries because the neighbors have been fired.”
@Thomas1993 wrote: “No you ARE crying in the pub reading about #Neighbours.”
@ShakyWoon said with crying and heartbroken emojis: “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”
@callumowen98 said: “Absolutely heartbroken to hear that #Neighbours got fired, only hope is another broadcaster will pick it up soon, it’s been that escapism we’ve all needed over the last few years, it’s been a part of my life even before I started watching it # SaveNeighbours”.
And @Lounaldo7 was furious: “#NEIGHBOURS ARE BEING REMOVED FROM UK TV. I’m furious. And heartbroken.
“Thank you @channel5_tv you horrible pigs.”
Actor/singer Jason, who found great success as a pop star after his role on Neighbours, tweeted: “@neighbours changed the landscape of Australian TV. Launched many careers over the decades, including mine.
“Engaged and entertained audiences for generations.
“We hope it finds a new home with another UK broadcaster and continues to provide opportunity and entertainment.”
A spokesman for the channel said: “The Neighbors will no longer be broadcast on Channel 5 beyond this summer.
“It has been a much-loved part of our show for over a decade, and we’d like to thank the cast, Fremantle and the entire production team for their fantastic work on this iconic series.
“Of course, we’d also like to thank the fans for their loyal support of Neighbors over the years.
“We recognize there will be disappointment over this decision, however our current focus is to increase our investment in original UK drama, which has strong appeal to our viewers.”
An email to staff from Fremantle Media executive producer Jason Herbison, seen by the Sydney Morning Herald, said production will be halted for an indefinite period due to the lack of a broadcast partner to back it financially.
Staff have been asked to attend a meeting on Monday and filming will continue until June 10.
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The email said: “Our viewership is holding steady and Channel Ten would love to see the show continue if we can find another broadcast partner to replace it.” [Channel 5].
“These discussions are ongoing, however there is no new broadcaster at this time and production is due to end, effectively resting the show.
“We’re so proud of the show, all of you, and everything you’ve accomplished. But for now, this chapter is closing, and we want to work together to give Neighbors the amazing send-off they deserve.”
Neighbors was shown on BBC One until 2008, when it moved to Channel 5.
It has featured a number of British guest stars, including former Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas, Men Behave Badly’s Neil Morrissey and The Pet Shop Boys.