Neighbours is an Australian television soap opera created by Reg Watson. The show premiered in Australia on 18 March 1985 and, despite being cancelled by its original broadcast channel, is currently the longest running drama in Australian television history.
Neighbours' storylines explore the domestic lives of the residents of the fictional Australian suburb of Erinsborough. The series primarily centres on the residents of Ramsay Street, a short cul-de-sac of six houses, and its surrounding neighbourhood, which includes a high school, hospital, mechanics, hotel, general store, a bar and gym.
Five (twenty two-minute) episodes are broadcast every week at 6:30 PM across Australia. The series is produced by FremantleMedia Australia, which was formed in January 2007 by the merger of Grundy Television and Crackerjack Productions.
Neighbours was created in 1985 by Australian TV executive Reg Watson. Watson, who based the show on British soap opera Coronation Street, 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. Seven Network picked up the show, following the success of Watson's Sons and Daughters, and the first episode was broadcast on 18 March 1985. The Melbourne-produced programme underperformed in the Sydney market, it struggled for four months before Seven Network cancelled the show, at which point, it was picked up by rival channel Network Ten, who relaunched the show beginning with episode 171 on 20 January 1986. In 1986 the show was picked up in the UK by BBC One who broadcasted the first episode on the 27 October. It soon picked up a loyal audience and the show became very popular within the student market.
In 2007 the show underwent a revamp, which included a switch to recording in HDTV, introducing a new family of characters, the departure of several existing characters and a new version of the show's familiar theme song and opening titles. 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
In July 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. In response to the criticism, executive producer, 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.
Neighbours will celebrate its 25th anniversary on 18 March 2010. Executive producer Susan Bower told Five's Holy Soap website that Neighbours will have new opening titles that will have some "bling" in them to reflect the anniversary. A one hour episode about Neighbours' history and future will also be shown. Jason Donovan has revealed that he was asked to return to the show, but he reportedly will not be returning due to work commitments.
Ahead of the 25th anniversary the Erinsborough village set will undergo a makeover. Harold's Store, Charlie's and Lassiters will remain the same, but the centre of the complex will be upgraded. Erinsborough Hospital and the police station will receive new facades
Pin Oak Court, Vermont South, the filming location used to represent the fictional Ramsay Street in Neighbours
Neighbours is set in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough, with the central focus of the show set in the fictional Ramsay Street.
Pin Oak Court, in Vermont South, is the real cul-de-sac that doubles for Ramsay Street and is used for exterior scenes on Ramsay Street. 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. 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. Neighbours interior scenes are filmed at the Global Television studios in Forest Hill, the adjoining suburb in which Pin Oak Court is located.
Through much of the series' run it was not stated which city of Australia Erinsborough was located. Occasionally it was suggested or implied on screen that Erinsborough was a suburb of Melbourne, but there were few clear references given in the dialogue. However, in the more recent seasons of the show, it has been explicitly stated that Erinsborough is a suburb of Melbourne. Several references were made to the Parker family moving to Melbourne from Queensland. The new titles sequence introduced in July 2007 includes images of the Melbourne city skyline and the Yarra River. Other Australian locations mentioned and sometimes seen in the series include the fictitious suburbs of West Waratah, Eden Hills and Anson's Corner. 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
Filming locations outside of Australia have included Kenya, The United States and the UK, which has seen Neighbours episodes filmed there on three occasions. 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. In late November 1992, the characters Rick Alessi and Debbie Martin visited London to attend a Michael Jackson concert. The second London-based storyline was broadcast in late March 2007.Susan and Karl Kennedy were seen taking a ride on the London Eye and being married on a boat on the Thames river.
Through its entire run in Australia, Neighbours has been screened as a 22-minute episode each week night in an early-evening slot. Neighbours is on air for approximately 44 weeks per year. It is broadcast from early January to early December, and goes off air for approximately five weeks during the Christmas/New Year break. The show currently airs at 6:30p.m, going up against rival current affairs shows Today Tonight on the Seven Network, and A Current Affair on the Nine Network. 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.
When the show began in 1985, the first season was broadcast on the Seven Network, at 5:30p.m. in Sydney, at 6:00p.m in Melbourne in Adelaide and at 7.00p.m. in Brisbane. The show's transmission in other areas was varied and many regional channels declined to purchase the series. When the show was cancelled and then picked up by Network Ten, it was screened at 7:00p.m. In 1992 the show moved to 6:30p.m. 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 3:30p.m, before moving to 11:30a.m. 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 a 24-hour sports channel One HD starting March 2009.
Neighbours has been sold to 57 countries around the world and is one of Australia's most successful media exports.
Neighbours has proved to be more consistently popular in the UK than in Australia. It was screened on BBC One from 1986 until 2008. Towards the late 2000s it was normally attracting an average of 3 million viewers for its lunchtime showing and 2.6 million viewers for its early-evening repeat. It is frequently the highest-rating daytime programme in the UK, outside of news bulletins. In 2008 the UK broadcast moved to rival channel Five after the BBC withdrew from talks to keep the show, after they were asked to pay £300m over eight years by Freemantle. Five picked up the show and began broadcasting it in February 2008. The first episode to be shown on Five – 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 Five's usual share for the 5.30 pm. slot by three and a half times. Home and Away, broadcast directly afterwards on the same channel, received 1.4 m on the same evening. On 4 February 2009, Neighbours' 5:30pm showing was seen by 1.94 million viewers and the teatime showing is now averaging 1.84 million. Combined showings are currently rating around 3 million per day. The UK are currently 6 to 8 weeks behind Australia. UK viewers are able to catch up with episodes with Five's Demand Five service, similar to the catch up service in Australia. It was announced in December 2009 that Five had signed a deal with YouTube, allowing viewers to watch episodes for free after they have been transmitted on the video sharing site.
In New Zealand Neighbours is broadcast on TV2 at 2:30p.m and 6:00p.m weekdays. They are currently 4 weeks behind Australia. 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. The TV2 website also offer viewers the chance to watch episodes online with its OnDemand service.Neighbours is broadcast on the RTÉ TV Network in Ireland at 1:55p.m on RTÉ One and repeated on RTÉ Two at 17:35p.m weekdays. RTÉ are 35 episodes behind the Network Ten transmission. FremantleMedia Enterprises secured a 'long term deal' with RTÉ in 2007 for them to transmit the show after the BBC pulled out of negotiations. Neighbours is broadcast in Belgium on VRT six times a week . In Kenya, Neighbours is broadcast on the KTN network Monday to Friday at 12:30p.m with an omnibus on Sunday mornings. They are approximately three years behind Australia. In Barbados Neighbours is broadcast on the CBC8 channel at 1:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. They are approximately four years behind Australia. The show is broadcast in Iceland on Stöð 2 at 12:35p.m and 17:28p.m from Monday to Friday, with an omnibus at 12:35p.m on Sundays. These broadcasts are approximately 9 months behind Australia. Neighbours aires on Norwegian TV channel NRK3 at 19:30, Monday to Friday and at 14:05p.m on NRK1 The broadcasts are approximately eight months behind Australia. Neighbours was broadcast in Sweden on channel TV3 from late 80's 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
Neighbours was broadcast in the United States on channel Oxygen in April 2004. The episodes started from 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 1p.m and 2p.m. After a couple of weeks, the show was moved to a late-night time slot and it eventually left the air.
Popularity and viewership
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.. It was then picked up by Network Ten.
When the show began airing on Network Ten in 1986, it initially attracted low ratings [ so the Network worked hard to publicise the series. They revamped the show, adding several new, younger cast members including, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan as Scott Robinson and Charlene Mitchell and launched a major publicity drive 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. This paid off and by the end of 1987 ratings had improved for the show. By the early 1990s Australian audiences had decreased although viewing figures had recovered slightly by the end of the decade.
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, low for Australian prime time television. In 2007, Home and Away was averaging 1.4 million viewers in Australia to Neighbours' 700,000. During the revamp of 2007, the episode broadcast on 23 July 2007 saw the introduction of the new theme music and graphics. Ratings for that episode averaged 1.05 million viewers in the 6:30 pm. slot. It was the first time the programme's viewing figures topped 1 million in 2007. 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
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.. On Friday July 17, 2009, during the aftermath of the Parker's car accident and the dramatic death of Bridget Parker, Neighbours achieved higher ratings than rival soap Home And Away. Neighbours achieved 998,000 viewers and placed 6th for the night, Home And Away placed 7th..
In January 2010, Neighbours returned to Australian screens to an audience of 563,000. On 20 January, the ratings fell to a low 426,000.
Main article: Storylines of Neighbours
When Neighbours began in 1985, it originally focused on three families - the Ramsays, the Robinsons and the Clarkes.
Despite the restrictive 6:30pm time slot, Neighbours has covered many issues expected of a long running soap opera. Storylines have covered everything from relationship break ups to tragedies, incest and crime. In recent years the show has dealt with controversial issues such as sexuality, teenage pregnancy, gambling and surrogacy.
See also: List of Neighbours characters
The current cast list is for actors who regularly appear in Neighbours. With these actors, there is rarely any notable gaps between their appearances. The recurring cast list is for actors who have had a role in Neighbours, but they are not regularly used and there may be weeks or even months between their appearances.
For the current cast list and the current recurring cast list please see Current cast of Neighbours.
For previous recurring cast members please see Recurring characters of Neighbours.
Notable cast members
There are numerous actors who have appeared on Neighbours for a considerable length of time, or whose careers Neighbours has had a significant impact on. The following is a list of the most notable actors and their characters.
Alan Dale played Jim Robinson for eight years from the first episode in 1985 until 1993. His character Jim was written out by dying of a heart attack.
Anne Haddy played Helen Daniels for 12 years from the first episode in 1985 until 1997. Haddy was the longest serving cast member when she left in 1997. She died two years after leaving the series.
Anne Charleston played Madge Bishop for a total of 11 years from 1986–1992 and 1996–2001. Throughout her time in the Street, Madge only lived at one address, number 24. Madge died of cancer in 2001.
Kylie Minogue played Charlene Mitchell for three 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.
Jason Donovan played Scott Robinson for more than 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.
Guy Pearce played Mike Young for three years from 1986 until 1989. Mike lived at No.28 with Daphne Clarke after escaping an abusive father. He became a teacher at Erinsborough High, but was suspended after kissing a student. Mike eventually left the street to be with his mother.
Ian Smith played Harold Bishop for a total of 17 years from 1987–1991 and 1996–2009. Harold was moved to recurring status in April 2008 and after a prostate cancer storyline departed the show permanently in February 2009. Harold is the second longest serving character in the show's history, after Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver). Harold was named the 'top soap bloke of all time' in a poll for Loaded magazine.
Delta Goodrem played Nina Tucker for a year from 2002–2003, with a short return in 2004. Nina Tucker was a shy singer who later left the street for a Bollywood career. Goodrem was forced to leave Neighbours to begin treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Tom Oliver has played Lou Carpenter regularly since 1992, following a week long guest stint in 1988. After the departure of Harold Bishop (Ian Smith), Lou became the longest running character in the show's history.
Celebrity guest appearances
Main article: List of celebrity guest appearances on Neighbours
The series has featured celebrity guest appearances throughout its run. These have ranged from Molly Meldrum in 1986, former Skyhooks musician and 774 ABC Melbourne presenter Red Symons, and former footballer Warwick Capper. More recently Lily Allen, Matt Lucas, David Walliams and one time Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton have appeared.
Main article: Theme to Neighbours
The theme tune to Neighbours was composed by Tony Hatch whose then wife, Jackie Trent wrote the lyrics. The song has been voted the world's most recognised television theme songs and the lyrics were famously quoted by John Smith, then British Shadow Chancellor, in a House of Commons debate on Government economic policy.
Since Neighbours began in 1985, it has used its opening titles sequence to introduce the major characters which currently feature in the show, the sequences often feature the characters within family or domestic groups. The titles sequence opened with a recap of the storylines from recent episodes featuring the characters who were to appear in the new episode. Since the series' inception in Australia, a trailer showing the events of the upcoming episode would be shown at the end of the episode.
In August 2009, Neighbours debuted a changed titles format. At the beginning of the week the show begins with a teaser trailer showcasing the stories coming up during the week. The usual recap of storylines received a facelift and began screening after the opening titles sequence, the end of episode teasers also returned to Australian screens and are now made in-house at Neighbours.
In 1991, an officially licensed video game of Neighbours was developed by Impulze for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64; it was re-released by Zeppelin Games in 1992. In the game, created by Ian Copeland, the player took on the role of Scott Robinson and had to skateboard around four courses.
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Neighbours
Neighbours has received a wide variety of awards and nominations throughout its run, including 71 Logie Award nominations, of which it won 30, as well as nominations for "Most Popular Daytime Programme" at the National Television Awards in five of the six years from 2000 to 2006. It has won an award for Best Episode in A Television Drama Serial at the Australian Film Institute Awards in 1997. Neighbours has twice been nominated for Rose D'Or awards, once in 2004 for Ryan Moloney  and again in 2005 for Jackie Woodburne . It has also won two AWGIE Awards