Neighbours

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This article is about the Australian soap opera. For other articles with similar titles, see Neighbours (disambiguation).
Neighbours
Neighbours Title Card.jpg
Genre Soap opera
Created by Reg Watson
Starring Present cast
Theme music composer Tony Hatch
(Theme music)
Jackie Trent
(Lyrics)
Opening theme Neighbours theme
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 30
No. of episodes 6970 (as of 12 September 2014)
Production
Executive producer(s) Jason Herbison
Producer(s) Laurence Wilson
Location(s) Vermont South, Victoria, Australia
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Grundy Television (1985–2006)
Pearson Television (1985–2001)
FremantleMedia Australia (2006–)
Broadcast
Original channel Seven Network (1985)
Network Ten (1986–2010)
Eleven (2011–)
Picture format PAL (1985–2000)
576i (16:9)
(2001–07, 2009–)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)
(2008–09)
Audio format Stereo
Original run 18 March 1985 – present
External links
Website

Neighbours is an Australian television soap opera. It was first broadcast on the Seven Network on 18 March 1985. It was created by TV 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 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, taking off 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. On 11 January 2011, Neighbours moved to Ten's digital channel, Eleven.

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 around the residents of Ramsay Street, a short cul-de-sac, and its neighbouring areas, the Lassiters complex, which includes a bar, hotel, cafe, 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 Neighbours to shoot external scenes in their gardens. 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 week night in an early-evening slot. In Australia it is currently broadcast each weeknight at 6:30 pm on Eleven. The show is produced by FremantleMedia and has been sold to over fifty countries around the world, making it one of Australia's most successful media exports. Neighbours has proved to be more popular in the United Kingdom and is one of the highest-rated shows on Channel 5

History[edit]

Neighbours was created in the early-to-mid-1980s by Australian TV executive Reg Watson.[1][2] Watson decided to create a soap opera after working on Crossroads and seeing how successful it and Coronation Street were in Britain.[1] He 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.[2][3] Watson, who worked for the Grundy production company, decided to make his show appeal to both Australia and Britain. In 2005, Darren Devlyn and Caroline Frost from the Herald Sun reported that Watson then took his idea to the Nine Network in 1982, but it was rejected.[1][4] Former Network Nine chief executive Ian Johnson commented that it was one of the "biggest missed opportunities" in his twenty-four years at the network.[1] He added "I remember it being discussed, but I'm not exactly sure what went against it. It may have had something to do with the fact we'd picked up Sale Of The Century with Tony Barber in 1980 and it was doing huge business, so we didn't have a pressing need for a five-night-a-week show."[1] Watson then took his idea to the Seven Network, who commissioned the show, following the success of his other Seven Network soap opera, Sons and Daughters.[1] Several titles for the show were discussed, including People Like Us, One Way Street, No Through Road and Living Together until the network programmers voted on Neighbours.[1][5] The first episode was broadcast on 18 March 1985 and reviews for the show were favourable.[1][6] However, the Melbourne-produced programme underperformed in the Sydney market and after a meeting of the general managers, Seven decided to drop the show in October 1985.[1][6][7] Seven's Melbourne program boss, Gary Fenton said Sydney chief Ted Thomas told the other general managers that Seven could not afford three dramas and argued that the Sydney-based A Country Practice and Sons and Daughters be retained.[1]

Neighbours was immediately bought by Seven's rival Network Ten.[1] 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.[8][9][10] Ten began screening the series with episode 171 on 20 January 1986.[10] 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.[10] It soon gained a loyal audience and the show became very popular within the student market and was watched by 16 million viewers.[1][10] 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.[11] 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.[11][12] In 2005, Neighbours celebrated its 20th anniversary. Over twenty former cast members returned for a special episode, which saw them sitting down to watch a documentary about Ramsay Street.[13] At the Logie Award ceremony that year, the show was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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".[16] The relaunch failed to attract more viewers in Australia.[17] Pellizzeri left the series at the end of 2007 and former Neighbours scriptwriter, Susan Bower, became the new executive producer.[18]

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.[19][20] In response to the criticism, Susan 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.[20] Neighbours became the first Australian series to establish Twitter accounts for its characters in 2009.[21] FremantleMedia Enterprises vice-president of licensing Ben Liebmann said, "We thought it was a really great way to continue or allow the audience to engage with the Neighbours world off-screen".[21] The messages are overseen by the Fremantle digital team, which is integrated with the story department of the Neighbours production team.[21]

On 18 March 2010, Neighbours celebrated its 25th anniversary.[22] In April, British television channel Five 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.[23] 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).[24] It was later announced that an attempt on the life of long term regular, Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) would be the focus of 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".[25]

In late 2010, TV Tonight reported that Neighbours would reduce crew operations in 2011 so production could be upgraded.[26] 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 will be mainly confined to the Ramsay Street and Lassiter's complex sets, with occasional filming in one-off places.[26] 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."[26] They added that the show's production model had been in place since 1985 and that it was time to evolve it.[26] On 14 March 2011, The Australian reported that Neighbours has become the first television show available to watch on a free iPhone application.[27] Viewers are able to watch whole episodes within three hours of them airing on Eleven.[27] 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."[27] 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.[28] The episode, which had already aired in Australia, marked the first time an Australian show recorded extra scenes for a UK broadcaster.[28]

On 25 October 2011, it was announced Bower would be leaving Neighbours in December 2011 to move into a new international role with FremantleMedia.[29][30] 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."[29] Former City Homicide producer, Richard Jasek, took over Bower's role, while Alan Hardy took over the role of producer.[30] 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 is the associate producer.[31] In 2014, Neighbours became the first Australian drama series to feature on-screen conversation-starter Twitter questions during each episode's three commercial breaks.[32] The questions are also tweeted during each broadcast from the official Neighbours Twitter account, accompanied by a relevant photo from the storyline.[32] Tony Broderick, the head of TV Partnerships Australia, said "It's an impressive innovation from a TV series in its 30th season on air, and shows that the residents of Ramsay Street can still teach the television industry some new tricks."[32]

Setting[edit]

Pin Oak Court, Vermont South, the filming location used to represent the fictional Ramsay Street in Neighbours

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).[33] Other locations include Erinsborough High school and the Lassiter's complex, which contains the Lassiter's Hotel, Charlie's bar and the coffee shop, Harold's Store.[34] Ahead of the 25th anniversary the Erinsborough village set underwent a makeover.[35] Harold's Store and Charlie's 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.[36] Erinsborough Hospital and the police station received new facades, a used car lot was created near the garage and a new university set was created.[35][36]

Pin Oak Court, in Vermont South, is the real cul-de-sac that doubles for Ramsay Street.[11][37] All of the houses featured in the show are real and the residents allow Neighbours to shoot external scenes in their front and back gardens and on occasions, in their garages.[38] 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.[39] The interior scenes are filmed at the Global Television studios in Forest Hill, the adjoining suburb in which Pin Oak Court is located.[40][41]

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.[42] Since the 2000s, it has been explicitly stated that Erinsborough is a suburb of Melbourne.[43] Other Australian locations mentioned and sometimes seen in the series include the fictitious suburbs of West Waratah, Eden Hills, and Anson's Corner.[44] Real-life Australian towns in the state of Victoria such as Colac and Shepparton are sometimes referred to. Oakey in Queensland is also mentioned and sometimes seen.[45] 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.[46] In October 2011, Neighbours filmed scenes in Port Douglas, Queensland and around the Great Barrier Reef region.[47]

Filming locations outside of Australia have included Kenya, the United States and the UK, which has seen Neighbours episodes filmed there on three occasions.[11] 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.[48][49] In November 1992, the characters Rick Alessi (Dan Falzon) and Debbie Martin (Marnie Reece-Wilmore) visited London to attend a Michael Jackson concert.[50] The second London-based storyline was broadcast in late March 2007,[51] when Susan (Jackie Woodburne) and Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) were seen taking a ride on the London Eye and being married on a boat on the River Thames.[52]

Broadcasting[edit]

Through its entire run in Australia, Neighbours has been screened as a 21-minute episode each week night in an early-evening slot. Neighbours is on air for approximately forty-four weeks per year. It is broadcast from early January to early December and goes off air for around four to five weeks during the Christmas and New Year period.[53] The show currently airs at 6:30 p.m, going up against current affairs shows and one hour news bulletins on other networks.[54][55][56] The last five aired episodes shown are available to watch on the Neighbours official Australian website, as a part of Network Ten's Catch Up TV service.[57]

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 in Adelaide and at 7.00 pm in Brisbane.[58] 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.[59] In 1992 the show moved to 6:30 pm. 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.[60]

In August 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that Neighbours would be moving to Ten's new digital channel, to make way for a new current affairs show.[61] 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".[61] It was later confirmed that the show would be moving to digital channel, Eleven.[62] 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".[62] In September, it was speculated that the show's classification rating could change from a G to a PG.[63] The multi-channel terms in the Australian Commercial Television Code of Practice means that classifications are more flexible on digital channels.[63] A new rating means that the show can go "head to head in content, plotting and language with Seven's Home & Away".[63] The Australian said "A PG slot is likely to let the show's plotting address contemporary issues for young people in a far more credible fashion for its audience".[63] A change in classification will not have an effect on the show's broadcast in Britain.[63] Bower commented on the move and change in classification, saying "We can't lose what we've got and that is that families like to watch Neighbours together". She added, "I don't intend to turn any characters into crack addicts or have an 18th birthday party where everybody takes ecstasy and gets paralytic drunk".[64] Neighbours moved to Eleven on 11 January 2011, the channel's launch day.[65] Eleven broadcast the last five aired episodes shown in an omnibus edition each Sunday.[66] Repeat episodes of Neighbours from the 2007 period were broadcast in 2013 on Eleven.[67] These episodes were seen during weekdays at 9:30 am, before moving to 11:00 am.[67]

International broadcasts[edit]

Neighbours has been sold to over 50 countries around the world and is one of Australia's most successful media exports.[68][69]

Neighbours has proved to be more popular in the United Kingdom than in Australia. It was screened on BBC One from 1986 until 2008. The series started airing on 27 October 1986, as part of BBC One's new daytime service.[70] Neighbours went out twice a day, with an earlier morning omnibus and then a showing at lunchtime.[71] Michael Grade, the channel's then controller, was advised by his daughter to move the series to 5:35 pm, as she and her friends kept missing it due to being at school,[71] which took place from January 1988. 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.[72] It was frequently the highest-rating daytime programme in the UK, outside of news bulletins.[15] In 2008, the UK broadcast moved to rival channel Channel 5 after the BBC withdrew from talks to keep the show, after they were asked to pay £300m over eight years by FremantleMedia. Channel 5 picked up the show and began broadcasting it in February 2008.[73]

The first episode to be shown on Channel 5 – episode number 5,331 – was watched by 2.2 million viewers (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. On 4 February 2009, Neighbours' 5:30 pm showing was seen by 1.94 million viewers and as of 2012, the teatime showing now averages 1 million viewers.[74] 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.[75] 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.[76]

In New Zealand, Neighbours is broadcast on TV2 at 6:30pm weekdays.[77] In October 2010, it began airing episodes at the same pace as Australia.[78] The show was initially broadcast by TVNZ in 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 days episode ofNeighbours was formerly shown at 2:30pm weekdays and is now shown at 11.00am weekdays.[79] The show moved to 5.25 Weeknights on TV One in late 2007. After a couple of months, the show moved to 3.50pm Weekdays. The Show eventually moved back to TV2. The TV2 website offer viewers the chance to watch episodes online with its OnDemand service.[80] In Ireland, Neighbours is broadcast on RTÉ Television at 1:55 pm on RTÉ One and repeated on RTÉ Two at 17.35 each weekday.[81] FremantleMedia secured a 'long term deal' with RTÉ in 2007 for them to transmit the show after the BBC pulled out of negotiations.[82][83]

In Belgium, Neighbours is broadcast on VRT six times a week, Monday to Saturday at 17:35 pm [84] In Kenya, Neighbours is broadcast on the KTN network Monday to Friday at 12:30 pm with an omnibus on Sunday mornings and in Barbados, Neighbours is broadcast on the CBC8 channel at 1 pm Monday to Friday.[85][86] In Iceland the show is broadcast on Stöð 2 at 12:35 pm and 17:28 p. from Monday to Friday, with an omnibus at 12:35 pm on Sundays. Neighbours airs on Norwegian TV channel NRK3 at 7:30 pm, Monday to Friday and at 2:05 pm on NRK1.[87][88] In Sweden, Neighbours was broadcast on channel TV3 from late 1980s through until 1997, when they pulled the plug due to budget reasons. TV4 started airing the show in 2009 on their channel TV4 Plus starting at the revamped show format from 2007.[89] Neighbours began broadcasting in Vietnam from late 2010 on VBC. Two episodes air during the week at 6:00 pm.[90]

In Canada, CFMT-TV in Toronto broadcast Neighbours on weeknights at 11 p.m, starting in September 1990.[91] From 20 May 1991, CFMT moved the show to 4 pm[92] After announcing its cancellation, CFMT decided to keep Neighbours on its schedule throughout September 1994, following numerous letters and telephone calls.[93] From 4 March 2013, Neighbours began airing at 15:55pm on DR1 in Denmark. A omnibus is also broadcast on Saturday mornings at 8:15am.[94] Broadcaster DR took over the rights from distributor FremantleMedia International.[95] Neighbours premiered on the American television station KCOP-TV in Los Angeles on 3 June 1991 at 5:30 pm weekdays.[2] KCOP planned on cancelling 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.[96][97][98] New York City station WWOR-TV showed Neighbours weekdays 5:30 pm from 17 June to 17 September 1991.[98]

In April 2004, the show began broadcasting nationally on the television channel, Oxygen.[99] 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."[99] 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 pm and 2 pm.[68] After a couple of weeks, 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.[100] 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 are four weeks behind the Australian broadcast.[100]

Popularity and viewership[edit]

1985–1990s[edit]

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.[6] 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.[101] 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.[101][102] This paid off and by the end of 1987 ratings had improved for the show.[103] 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.[14] The same episode attracted 20 million viewers when it was aired in the United Kingdom.[104] By the early 1990s, Australian audiences had decreased although viewing figures had recovered slightly by the end of the decade.[105][106] 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.[107] It was then that they introduced the characters of Stonefish Rebecchi played by Anthony Engelman and Serendipity Gottlieb played by Raelee Hill.[107]

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.[107] 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.[107]

2000s[edit]

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.[106] In 2007, Home and Away was averaging 1.4 million viewers in Australia to Neighbours' 700,000.[108] 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.[109] Ratings for that episode averaged 1.05 million viewers in the 6:30 pm. slot.[110] It was the first time the programme's viewing figures had topped 1 million in 2007.[111] 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.[112]

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.[113] 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.[114]

2010s[edit]

In January 2010, Neighbours returned to Australian screens to an audience of 563,000.[115] On 20 January, the ratings fell to a low of 426,000, making it one of the program's lowest ever ratings in Australia.[116] A July 2010 report chartered Neighbours' reduced ratings in Australia. Figures had dropped 20%, from having 1.2 million viewers in 1991 to a low of 618,000 in 2010.[117] 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".[117] On 29 October 2010, Neighbours' ratings dropped to a low figure of 386,000 viewers.[118] Viewing numbers for Network Ten that night were down across all programmes.[118] The show's highest figure of the week was 590,000 on 25 October.[118] Following its move to digital multichannel Eleven, Neighbours attracted 254,000 viewers for the first episode broadcast on 11 January 2011.[119] 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."[120]

Neighbours became Eleven's most-watched show and the third highest rating show on free to air channels.[119][120] 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."[119] 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.[121][122] The show had more viewers than the Ten Evening News in the 16–39 and 18–49 demographic.[122] On 13 June, 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.[123]

On 27 May 2013, episode 6651 of Neighbours was watched by an audience of 405,000 Australian viewers, which was the highest rating the series had achieved in nearly two years.[124] Neighbours has traditionally rated between 250,000 and 350,000 since moving to Eleven in January 2011.[124] As of 2014, Neighbours is the number one regular series on digital multichannels, averaging 297,000 viewers.[125]

Storylines[edit]

Neighbours storylines frequently focus on family problems, intergenerational clashes, school problems, romances and domestic issues.[126] 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, eating disorders, alcoholism, adultery, drug use and drug trafficking, robbery, stalking, kidnapping, accidental death, hit-and-runs, murder, shootings, and incest.[126][127][128][129][130][131] In the 2000s, the show dealt with controversial issues such as sexuality, gambling, prostitution and surrogacy, as well as health issues like multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder and epilepsy.[132][133][134][135][136][137] In September 2014, the show featured a natural disaster storyline, in which a tornado descended on Erinsborough and Ramsay Street.[138]

Characters[edit]

Kylie Minogue starred as Charlene Mitchell from 1986 to 1988

In 1985, Neighbours started out with three families created by Watson – the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes.[10] Watson said that he wanted to show three families living in a small street, who are friends.[139] 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.[6] 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.[6] Bachelor Des Clarke (Paul Keane) invited Daphne Lawrence (Elaine Smith) to live at No.28 with him and they were later married.[2] The Robinsons and the Ramsays had a long history in the street and they were often involved in an ongoing rivalry.[140] 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.[141] Many families, including the Alessi, Bishop, Hancock, Hoyland, Rebecchi, Scullys, Timmins' and Willises have moved in and out of the street over the years.[14]

When storylines for certain characters become tired, the scriptwriters simply move one family out and replace it with a new one.[142] Ramsay Street is now a mixture of older characters like Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver), Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney), Karl (Alan Fletcher) and Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne), as well as newer characters such as the Turner family.[142][143] 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.[139][142] 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.[144] 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.[145]

Notable cast members[edit]

Several actors are closely associated with Neighbours and their characters from the series.

  • Alan Dale played Jim Robinson for eight years from the first episode in 1985 until 1993. Dale left the series when he fell out with the producers over pay.[146] He struggled to find work in Australia because he was typecast.[147]
  • Anne Haddy played Helen Daniels for twelve years from the first episode in 1985 until 1997.[148] Haddy became the longest serving cast member and she was the only surviving member of the original cast left on-screen in 1997. She died two years after leaving the series.[148]
  • Anne Charleston played Madge Bishop for a total of eleven years from 1986–1992 and 1996–2001.[149]
  • Kylie Minogue played Charlene Mitchell for two years from 1986 until 1988. Charlene's biggest storyline was her wedding to Scott Robinson in 1987, which attracted almost 20 million viewers in the UK.[150] Minogue subsequently launched a successful music career.
  • Jason Donovan played Scott Robinson for three years, from 1986 until 1989. Donovan was the second actor to play Scott, replacing Darius Perkins. The character's most notable storylines were his romance and wedding to Charlene Mitchell.[151] Donovan subsequently had a successful music career.
  • Guy Pearce played Mike Young for three years from 1986 until 1989. Pearce was cast as Mike after he wrote to Neighbours' production company, the Grundy Organisation.[152] His debut was in episode number 171, the first episode broadcast on the Network Ten following the show's move from Channel Seven.[152][153] Pearce subsequently became a successful movie actor.
  • Ian Smith played Harold Bishop for a total of eighteen years from 1987–1991, 1996–2009 and 2011. Smith went part-time in April 2008 and he decided to depart the show in February 2009.[154] In May 2011, Smith returned for a six week guest stint.[155] Harold was named the "Top soap bloke of all time" in a poll for Loaded magazine.[156]
  • Tom Oliver has played Lou Carpenter since 1992, following a week long guest stint in 1988.[157] After the departure of Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), Lou became the longest running character in the show's history. Since the start of 2009, Oliver reduced his role to a part-time cast member appearing roughly half of the year.[158]
  • Natalie Imbruglia played Beth Brennan from 1992–1993, with a brief return in 1994. Imbruglia was sixteen when she won the role of Beth.[159] Beth is a sweet natured girl who comes to Ramsay Street in search of a new life. She works in the construction business and begins a relationship with Brad Willis (Scott Michaelson).[160] Imbruglia grew disappointed with her scripts and decided to quit the show.[159]
  • Delta Goodrem played Nina Tucker for a year from 2002–2003, with two short returns in 2004 and 2005. Nina Tucker was a shy schoolgirl with a talent for singing. It was Goodrem's manager, Glenn Wheatley, who suggested making the character into an aspiring singer.[161] Goodrem was forced to leave Neighbours to begin treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma and the writers sent Nina to India, where she became a Bollywood actress.[162]

Celebrity guest appearances[edit]

The series has featured several celebrity guest appearances throughout its run. Early cameos included former Skyhooks musician Red Symons as Gordon Miller, Chris Lowe, Molly Meldrum and former footballer Warwick Capper.[163][164][165] Dave Batista, Lily Allen, Matt Lucas and David Walliams, British comedian Tim Vine, André Rieu, Ben Lee, and former Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton all appeared on Neighbours during the 2000s.[166][167][168][169]

Theme tune[edit]

Main article: Theme to Neighbours

The theme tune to Neighbours was composed by Tony Hatch whose then wife, Jackie Trent, wrote the lyrics.[11] Since 1985, there have been six versions of the theme tune.[11] 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.[170][171] From 2007, the theme tune to Neighbours was sung by Sandra de Jong.[172] 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.[173] The competition resulted in a tie and the new theme is sung as a duet by Daniel Boys and Stephanie Angelini.[174] The new version of the theme tune began airing from 15 April 2013.[173]

Titles[edit]

Since Neighbours began in 1985, it has used its opening titles sequence to introduce the major characters which currently feature in the show.[175] 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.[176]

In 2002, Neighbours debuted an all new style of titles with a remixed version of the theme tune.[177] The titles showed characters together in groups according to gender, a change from the previous ones which were taken outside.[177] 2007 saw Neighbours debut an updated theme 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.[178] 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.[179]

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.[180] The titles made their debut on 18 March 2010.[22][181] A new set of opening titles made their debut on 15 April 2013, along with a new version of the theme tune.[173][174] Visual Playground once again created and produced the titles.[182] The titles depict the Ramsay Street residents gathering outside their houses for a street party.[182] 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."[182]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Neighbours has received a wide variety of awards and nominations throughout its run. The show has received 75 Logie Award nominations, of which it has won 30. It has also been nominated for "Most Popular Daytime Programme" at the National Television Awards in five of the six years from 2000 to 2006.[183][184] In 1997, the show won an award for Best Episode in A Television Drama Serial at the Australian Film Institute Awards in 1997.[185] Two Neighbours actors have been nominated for Rose D'Or awards, once in 2004 for Ryan Moloney and again in 2005 for Jackie Woodburne.[186][187] Neighbours has also won two Australian Writers' Guild awards.[188]

Home media releases[edit]

Video games[edit]

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.[189][190]

DVD releases[edit]

Episodes of Neighbours have been released on several DVDs. Neighbours: Defining Moments was the first DVD box set released in 2002.[191] It is a compilation of fifteen classic episodes, including Des and Daphne's wedding and the deaths of Todd Landers (Kristian Schmid) and Jim Robinson. The DVD also contains a photo gallery.[191] 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.[192] Episodes include Kerry Bishop's (Linda Hartley-Clark) death and the arrival of the Kennedy and Scully families.[192] The DVD was released by Shock Entertainment and FremantleMedia.[192] Neighbours: The Iconic Episodes Volume Two contains twenty-four episodes over three discs.[193] Episodes included are Scott and Charlene's wedding, the Lassiter's complex fire and Harold Bishop's reappearance. One disc is dedicated to the character of Charlene.[193]

In 2012, early episodes of Neighbours were released on three DVD box sets in Germany.[194] From April 2012, Shock Entertainment began releasing DVD box sets of Neighbours episodes in broadcast order from the beginning.[195] As of July 2013, five box sets have been released.[196][197][198]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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References[edit]

  • Clarke, David, Samuelson, Steve (2006). 50 Years: Celebrating a Half-Century of Australian Television. Random House. ISBN 1-74166-024-6. 
  • Moran, Albert and Pinne, Peter (1993). Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series'. Australian Film Television & Radio School. ISBN 0-642-18462-3. 
  • Monroe, Josephine (1996). Neighbours: the first 10 years. Penguin Group. ISBN 0-7181-4212-8. 
  • Allen, Robert Clyde (1995). To be continued--: soap operas around the world. Psychology Press. ISBN 0-415-11006-8. 
  • Mercado, Andrew (2004). Super Aussie soaps: behind the scenes of Australia's best loved TV shows. Pluto Press. ISBN 1-86403-191-3. 
  • Johnston, Tony (2005). Neighbours: 20 years of Ramsay Street. News Custom Publishing. ISBN 1-876176-78-4. 
  • Turner, Graeme and Cunningham, Stuart (2000). The Australian TV Book. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-014-4. 
  • Oram, James (1988). Neighbours: behind the scenes. Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-16075-9. 
  • Rayner, Philip, Wall, Peter, Kruger, Stephen (2001). Media studies: the essential introduction. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-23611-9. 

External links[edit]