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Thread: Neighbours axed by Ch5!

  1. #61
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    DS article. Someone might like to post this story on the Hollyoaks thread:

    Neighbours script producer Shane Isheev joins Hollyoaks
    From Erinsborough to Chester.

    After 37 years on the air, Neighbours wrapped filming for the final time last week, and now the cast and crew are free to move on to other projects.

    And we did not have long to wait before finding out where one of them is off to, as Digital Spy can exclusively reveal that Neighbours' script producer Shane Isheev is heading to our shores to join the team at Hollyoaks as story editor.

    Speaking to us about the move, Shane said: "Many colleagues have said over the years I should work on Hollyoaks. It wasn't until I started watching the show regularly that I understood why. It has everything I love about serial drama. I feel extremely lucky to be moving from Erinsborough to Chester.

    "I still had many stories I wanted to tell on Neighbours, but now I can't wait to share them with the Hollyoaks team.

    "With the loss of Neighbours, fans might be looking for a new soap fix. I strongly encourage them, and all serial lovers, to check out Hollyoaks. Just like me, it won't be long before you're hooked."

    During his time on Neighbours, Shane was responsible for some of the biggest storylines on the Channel 5 soap. These include the 35th anniversary wedding week episodes, the recent dramatic storyline involving Freya and Levi, and the current David story that is set to take another dramatic turn in the coming weeks.

    Expect to see Shane make his mark on Hollyoaks later in 2022. Neighbours will air its final episode on August 1.

    Hollyoaks now streams first on All 4, with new episodes dropping each weekday morning. The show airs Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, and at 7pm on E4.

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  3. #62
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    DS article. Interview with script producer Shane Isheev:

    Neighbours script producer Shane Isheev on show ending
    "We just want it to be a celebration and for people to feel wonderful after watching it."

    After 37 years in the air, Neighbours will come to a close for good in a few week's time and the final scenes for the show have already been recorded.

    While we don't know how the show will wrap up yet, although we do know that lots of old faces will be back to see it off, it is clear from recent months that it will be going out on a creative high.

    One of the key people involved in bringing Neighbours to a close is the show's script producer, Shane Isheev, who is moving to Hollyoaks, and he has been chatting with Digital Spy about his time on the show, and how they tackled the monumental task of ending it.

    How long did you know that the show was at risk of cancellation, and how did that impact you when it came to plotting long-term stories?

    "We knew coming into the second half of last year that it was a possibility that it may wrap in June, but there was also hope that a new contract would come. So, it was in the back of our minds, but we were plotting as normal and just focusing on telling good stories. It wasn?t confirmed until the news broke and we found out like everyone else found out. And then it was a case of having to do a 180 with some of our stories and change our approach."

    Was there ever the risk of the show coming to an abrupt end last year?

    "From my perspective, it was business as usual. We did know at one point last year that our contract had come to an end and we were waiting to find out what the new one would be, and that was the extension that saw us through to June this year."

    How was it trying to plan for things such as key events when the scheduling for the show went off track here and in Oz?

    "The biggest concern for us what knowing exactly when Neighbours was going to air where. That was my biggest concern, making sure we knew what our season finales were and that we serviced both places as best we could.

    "It was tricky. We like to keep things consistent with the real world, public holidays, and real-life events. And with the characters, we do try and stick to birthdays and anniversaries, and it got to the point where we weren?t sure anymore. So that all kind of went out of the window and we just focused on telling the best stories we possibly could."

    Was it frustrating for you when Channel 5 dropped down to two episodes a week in 2020 while you were still business as usual?

    "I wouldn?t say it was frustrating. We understood. There was so much uncertainty and productions around the world shut down, and so did we for three weeks. So, it wasn?t a shock and I understood them being conservative about it. It was when they maintained the two episodes and we were still going that I got concerned. More for the fans really as we know that the show works best when the show airs at the same time as all the fans can engage with the various podcasts and everything that are about. But no, I don?t blame Channel 5 for what they did because it was unknown territory."

    Were there any stories for Neighbours that you were really keen to tell but didn?t have the chance to?

    "We had so many plans, so many exciting things in the works. We?d started planting some seeds for things that went nowhere, and the season finale for 2022 was set to be really exciting and would have been iconic in Neighbours history. I?m always wary about revealing what could have been as you never know, if the show is revived in five to 10 years? time they might use them then, or I might like to use a few for Hollyoaks ? or a Neighbours spin-off. It?s always heartbreaking when there is a story that you can?t tell and that happened even before the show ended."

    Are there any examples of stories from the past that you wanted to tell but couldn?t?

    "I could tell you a hundred stories I wanted to tell over the years but a lot of the time the timing isn?t right. There are two that spring to mind. I always wanted to revisit Susan?s euthanasia story with her mum, how she would face that same dilemma today if she was faced with it again or if someone else was. We just couldn?t go there, the network was reluctant and in Victoria, the laws changed significantly around euthanasia so it wouldn?t have had the same impact.

    "The other one I had my heart set on, but it just didn?t work out with timing was I really wanted to revisit Cody?s death with the then-current version of the Willis family. I always had this vision of Piper doing a podcast and tracking down the guys involved in the drug bust and the shooting that killed Cody all those years ago.

    "Obviously, this is Neighbours, things would have gone wrong, the guys seemingly had been redeemed but they get too infatuated with Piper, and she finds herself in over her head ? I always loved revisiting the show?s past and putting a modern spin on it."

    We have seen a fair few cast members leave Neighbours this year, were they always leaving, and did you already have plans of who could replace them?

    "We had really planned until the end of the year so cast changes, like Jemma and Ben, we knew about before. So, it was very much the plan, and we didn?t really deviate from that after the end was announced.

    "A good example is Jane?s son, Byron. He is a character that we would have got a lot of mileage out of, and he would have stuck around long-term. We had plans to bring in Jane?s ex, Vic too and we would have had a ball with that. We didn?t want to miss out on seeing some of those faces show up, so that?s why we still have Byron, and we still have Estelle ? just so we can see them. We had another really big story for Terese and Estelle that we sadly can?t tell now."

    What about the Rodwell family? Did you have plans of where you wanted to take them?

    "Well, the Rodwells are now the last new family on Ramsay Street, they were going to be our big new family and we had planned to grow them ? bring in some more kids. That plan was obviously changed when the show was rested, but they were a new fun working-class family.

    "Wendy has been a hit judging by reactions online. You grow to love her. Wendy would have been one of those characters who is definitely a gossip, but she doesn?t thrive on it as people like Sheila did ? her heart is always in the right place. She always puts her foot in her mouth and that came from watching the actress in the police ball ? we took what Candice gave us and ran with it.

    "She?s an amalgamation of so many classic characters, Lyn Scully, Valda, Sheila ? we wanted another busy body. The Rodwells were the first piece of the puzzle on what the next phase of the show would have been."

    Where do you even begin with trying to draw something this big to a close?

    "When we knew that Neighbours was going to be finishing up, Jason [Herbison] and I had a meeting with just the two of us and I went to pitch my version of the ending. I was ready with my pitch, so we started the meeting, he went first and told me his thoughts, even the final scene, and the final line, and when he told me I got goosebumps, burst into tears and it was just perfect. I didn?t even bother telling him mine as I just knew that is how I wanted the show to end too.

    "I know that wrapping up a 37-year-old show is an impossible task to please everyone, but I thought the only path we could take was to think about what we would want to see at the end ? because Jason and I are both huge fans too. If I was just watching this at home and hadn?t been a part of it, I think I?d be chuffed with it as it?s got everything I wanted."

    How did you approach the task of deciding on returning characters with so many to choose from?

    "When it came to deciding who to bring back, and how we were going to honour the past, we wanted a similar feel to the 35th in the sense that are lots of easter eggs ? that people are already finding ? and from now until the end it is riddled with all that. If you think something is there as a nod to the past, then you are probably right.

    "Jason asked for my wishlist, he had his, and we discussed who was on there ? it was extremely long I won?t lie. I got to the stage where I kept pushing for more and more, but Jason is the one who worries about the budget, and he stopped me and made me count who we had already got, and, well it was a lot ? it?s known that there are more than have been announced ? and it was a ridiculous number.

    "Having said that, the numbers just kept growing and growing without us really even having to push it. Will everyone coming back have a major story? No, but I don?t think that was the point. I feel like we just want to see people again who we have loved over the years and even if it?s just a small cameo, it?s a thrill and it makes the whole last four weeks really special.

    "It was a combination of what made sense for the story, as well as who we wanted to see back. Jason has always been big on only bringing people back if it makes sense, but we loosened that for this, and rightly so. And with a lot of them, if someone isn?t back, it wasn?t through lack of trying. Sometimes things just couldn?t be worked out with schedules as we had a very small window."

    If there is any time for fan service, it?s now, right?

    "Correct. We just want it to be a celebration and for people to feel wonderful after watching it."

    Speaking of fan service, there have been some fans that have been name-dropped into the show for the final stretch. Was that your idea and how did that come about?

    "It was. I started naming a few of our guest characters after fans who have been very active in the fan community and who had done a lot for the show, so I had started that before we knew the show was ending a little. But as soon as it was confirmed it was the end, I just did it even more.

    "We name characters after people we know anyway, the last name from one person and first from another, and I just thought that now was the right time to do it to say thanks to some of the people who have helped keep the show going these last 37 years. I can?t wait for certain people to see or hear their names mentioned, it?s a lot of fun."

    If you can, how would you sum up your years on the show?

    "I really can?t, it?s still so surreal. I still have trouble believing that not only did I get the chance to work on the show, but I was part of the core team who wrapped it up. There are all these things that have happened along the way, and I still can?t believe it, it feels like a dream, and I still think I?ll wake up in true soap fashion.

    "I remember when I first got the job on Neighbours and I thought I had missed out on working on the show in the golden eras, the '80s, some of the ?90s, and the Izzy era, but look at who we?ve got, and had back? Characters like Harold, Des, and Jane. And with Dee, when I got the job my first pitch was how to bring her back, not knowing that it was everyone?s first pitch!

    "This has ended up being the perfect period for me to have worked on the show. And not just because of the characters we got to bring back. But also, the representation of diverse ethnicities and sexualities ? it?s just been absolutely perfect. Everything I wanted to watch as a fan happened."

    How excited are you to be joining Hollyoaks, and how are you finding the idea of switching from one set of iconic characters to another?

    "I?m equal measure nervous and excited. It is a new playground for me, but I am also nervous because I?m not used to dealing with so many regular characters. The amount that Hollyoaks has compared to Neighbours is quite the difference.

    "The pace that Hollyoaks moves is a lot quicker, so that will take a bit to get my head around. But I?m really looking forward to it. There are quite a few heightened soap stories that I couldn?t do on Neighbours that I hope to do there, and the trick is trying to find something that they haven?t done yet. I?m really excited about the challenge."

    Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 6pm on Channel 5 and streams on My5. In Australia, the show airs Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach and streams on 10 Play.

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  5. #63
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    As the curtain closes on Neighbours, the iconic cast have reunited ahead of the finale
    The last episode is set to air on August 1st.

    After 37 years, Neighbours is officially set to say goodbye when the final episode airs on August 1st.

    Ahead of the bittersweet finale, the cast of the long-running soap reunited for one last hurrah as they celebrated nearly 40 years of the iconic series at a special event in Melbourne before it comes to a close.

    Among the star-studded crowd were Ramsay Steet locals - both old and new - including Olympia Valance, who played Paige Smith from 2014 until 2018 in the series, and Ryan Moloney, who has portrayed Jarrod 'Toadfish' Rebecchi since 1995.

    April Pengilly, the daughter of INXS rocker Kirk Pengilly, was also in attendance as she donned a bright pink frock for the occasion, as well as Bachelor star Tim Robards, who first appeared as a guest star in the role of Pierce Greyson before landing a full-time gig on the show.

    Fans were left reeling after the shock announcement earlier this year that Neighbours was axed after Fremantle Media's major partner, the UK's Channel Five, decided to withdraw its partnership and ultimately stop funding the program.

    After nearly 9000 episodes, the show will air a finale on August 1, 2022, which was filmed in recent weeks. The team at Neighbours are going all out for the production, going so far as to bring back Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan in their iconic roles as Charlene and Scott Robinson.

    But as far as what exactly the undoubtedly emotional finale of Neighbours will entail, we'll just have to wait and see - though (thankfully) executive producer Jason Herbison has promised he won't be blowing up Ramsay Street in a blaze of glory.

    "I would never, ever blow it up," Jason told TV Blackbox. "The ending will be a celebration of the past and the present, with the door very much left open for a future.

    "Ramsay Street is eternal and I like to think it will live on in the hearts and minds of the viewers, long after the final scene."


    Fond farewell as Neighbours leave Ramsay Street

    Neighbours cast celebrate at finale event after filming wraps
    It's nearly time to say farewell to Ramsay Street.
    Last edited by Pantherboy; 29-06-2022 at 23:20.

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  7. #64
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    DS article - Neighbours finale gets new airdate in both Aust (Thurs July 28) & the UK (Friday July 29):

    Neighbours finale gets new airdate and primetime slot on Channel 5
    It's the end of an era.

    Neighbours will air in a primetime slot on Channel 5 for its final ever episode.

    The show's finale was originally billed to screen on Monday, August 1, but it has now been brought forward to Friday, July 29 in the UK.

    Channel 5 bosses have announced that the third-from-last Neighbours episode will also air that day in the usual 1.45pm and 6pm timeslots.

    This will be followed by the big finale, broadcast as a double episode special at 9pm the same evening.

    he Neighbours finale has also been rescheduled in Australia.

    The show's home network Channel 10 has announced that it will air the final episodes in a 90-minute slot on Thursday, July 28 at 7.30pm, simulcast on Channel 10 and 10 Peach.

    This means that Australian viewers will get to see the finale ahead of the UK audience.

    Channel 5 has been airing episodes ahead of Australia all year, but 10 Peach has recently been catching up again by screening double episodes.

    In a statement, Channel 5 teased: "In what is set to be a gripping and emotional finale, fan favourites from the past will be returning to Ramsay Street to celebrate with our Erinsborough locals, in a send-off that will have something for everyone, spanning all generations and decades from the opening scene in 1985, to the final episode in 2022.

    "Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks about additional surprises to send off the iconic soap in style."

    Neighbours last aired in primetime in 2020, with a week of post-watershed specials on Channel 5 for the 30th anniversary.

    Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 6pm on Channel 5 and streams on My5. In Australia, the show airs Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach and streams on 10 Play.



    Neighbours final episode new airdate confirmed for two-part special
    Viewers can expect a ?gripping and emotional finale?, with ?fan favourite characters from the past returning to celebrate? alongside the current cast.

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  9. #65
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    Not sure why they have done this? Would rather have left it until the Monday.

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  11. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruffed_lemur View Post
    Not sure why they have done this? Would rather have left it until the Monday.
    Not sure if this is the reason, but I have seen it suggested that maybe it has something to do with the Commonwealth Games. The opening ceremony is on the afternoon of Thursday 28 July in Birmingham (4pm - 7:30pm local time), which means it will be overnight/early Friday morning in Aust. As the finale will be shown at 7:30pm in primetime here on both Ch10 & 10Peach, by having it on the Thursday night, it will be over before the Comm. Games actually begin (even though they are on Ch7 - & will most likely rate well...). Then with Aust now airing the finale on Thurs 28th, I assume that in response, Ch5 didn't want to wait till the following Monday to air it in the UK etc. That's the theory anyway...

    The new promo for the big finale on Ch10 Twitter:
    Last edited by Pantherboy; 01-07-2022 at 23:45.

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  13. #67
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    Thanked: 6836 article - Nell says goodbye:

    Neighbours? Nell star Scarlett Anderson says farewell to ?friendly? co-stars in emotional new video and we?re not crying we swear

    Neighbours star Scarlett Anderson has reflected on her time on the show ahead of its untimely end.

    The 9-year-old actress, who has played Toadie and Sonya Rebecci?s daughter Nell since she was a baby, described her Ramsay Street experience as a ?very long journey?.

    ?I?ve pretty much grown up on this show,? she said during an interview, shared on the Aussie soap?s official social media channel. ?Same with John [Turner, who plays Hugo Rebecci]. It?s like, sad, that it?s going to be finishing.?

    You said it, Scarlett!

    Despite the heartbreaking fact that Neighbours will imminently end, however, Scarlett added that she likes thinking about how ?grateful? she is to have had the experience ? and honestly, what an icon.

    ?I love thinking about how I should be grateful how it even started,? she said, ?and be happy that I had a really good time. And it was a really long time!?

    ?I just want everyone to be happy about how it started, and how nice everyone was, and I just want to say thank you to them all because they were really nice and friendly to me when I was young and stuff.

    ?I kind of messed up my lines a bit, but they always had me, and whispered the lines to me or gave me good cues. I just want them to know I?ll never forget them?.

    No, you?re crying.

    Neighbours, as viewers know, is set to conclude later later this month, after Channel 5 controversially decided to drop it from their schedules in favour of ?original UK drama?, which the broadcaster claims has a ?strong appeal? for audiences.

    The final month of episodes have been described as an on-air celebration of the show?s legacy and are thought to be must-see TV.

    The last ever episode, a double episode special, will air on Friday July 29 in a primetime 9pm slot on Channel 5.

    In the gripping and emotional finale, favourites from the past will return to Ramsay Street to celebrate with the locals.

    Neighbours airs weekdays at 1:45pm and 6pm on Channel 5.

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  15. #68
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    A couple of DS articles:

    Neighbours Farewell Tour announces two legendary cast members for line-up
    More stars are coming to the UK!

    Neighbours star Jackie Woodburne teases "joyful" ending for soap
    Not long to go now, folks.

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  17. #69
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    DS articles:

    Former EastEnders star Jo Joyner signs up for new Channel 5 drama with Neighbours cast members
    Riptide will unite some familiar faces from the soap world.

    Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan re-releasing classic single after Neighbours return
    Especially for us.

    And an interview with Channel 5 commissioning editor Greg Barnett:

    Channel 5 breaks silence on Neighbours ending, fan reaction and big finale night plans
    "This isn't a series that is being axed because of poor ratings or performance."

    Neighbours will get a send-off to remember later this month on Channel 5, as the finale episode gets a prime-time slot in a special night of celebration.

    Neighbours: The Finale has been confirmed to air on Friday, July 29 at 9pm, followed by two special companion shows which celebrate the long-running soap's legacy.

    As we look ahead to the show's endgame, Digital Spy recently caught up with Channel 5 commissioning editor Greg Barnett for an exclusive chat about all things Neighbours.

    Greg has overseen Neighbours for the channel since 2010 and has helped to mastermind some of the most memorable moments in recent years, including the dramatic Channel 5 prime-time specials.

    Here, he chats about the finale night, Kylie and Jason's returns, and exactly why Neighbours is coming to an end.

    Neighbours has been at the heart of Channel 5's daytime schedule for 14 years. Is the channel sad to be losing the show?

    "Yes, absolutely. We've loved having it, we've loved supporting it and we've loved the praise and critical acclaim we've had for supporting it.

    "Ben Frow [Channel 5 controller] and I introduced the 10pm specials, which took the show out of its daytime slot into a place where former and new audiences could perhaps see it and re-engage ? they did!

    "These 10pms evolved over the years we did them, from a simple stitch-together with some commercial music (we were praised for using Adele over a scene where one of the doctors died in the hospital car park in Toadie's wedding explosion episode), to "some" new material, then "all-new" material, then week-long strips (Endgame most recently) and of course the Erinsborough High My5 spin off.

    "We've given it a lot of love and encouragement and so, yes, that is why it is sad to be losing it."

    On a personal level, you've overseen the show for Channel 5 for over a decade and had input into storylines. How do you feel yourself about the show now ending?

    "It's been a real privilege to work with such a talented cast and crew and I got to visit the production centre a fair few times ? to be involved, as you say, in thrashing out stories and add support as and where I could, and also to be shown how Fremantle were investing our element of the funding into things like new interior sets and the Ramsay Street backyards. I'm very grateful for all of that opportunity.

    "At the same time, I'm terribly sad to see it go. It's again, such a privilege to be part of its send off ? and that is very significant, and, truthfully, rewarding.

    "This isn't a series that is being axed because of poor ratings or performance. It's going out very much on a high. It deserves a fitting and fantastic ending ? and [Neighbours' executive producer] Jason Herbison and the team at Fremantle Australia have absolutely delivered. I really hope viewers will not be disappointed."

    Once the decision to end Neighbours was made, did you have much input into the finale planning?

    "Jason Herbison and I agreed that the show ending warranted something very special. We discussed who might return and what we might do.

    "You can't blow up Ramsay Street for example, because real people live on it and in any event, that wouldn't be the right thing to do given how loved the show is, how far it has come and the ethics that lie at its very heart.

    "Naturally there was a list: 'Could we get XXX?? Do you think YYY would come back?' Once we'd agreed what the suitable end would be, it really was over to Jason to persuade everyone to return. All praise to him."

    There was some scepticism over whether big names like Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce would return. Were you surprised they agreed to come back?

    "I know from the Be A Star On Neighbours competition we did back in 2010, that Kylie's affection for the show and everything it did for her is genuine and sincere. She recorded special messages for us and granted us gratis use of her clips in the feature programmes we did, with her blessing. I remember thinking, 'That tells you something'.

    "Jason Donovan, I believe, had always said he would only return if Kylie did, so I think we all just hoped the stars and their diaries would align.

    "Jason Herbison kept saying on our Monday catch-ups that he was trying to pull it off, then one day he rang me and said that they'd both returned to Pin Oak Court (the real location of Ramsay Street) the day before, and their scenes were in the can. Then he rang me to confirm Guy Pearce was returning for three episodes.

    "What I think it is important to say of these returnees is that they were adamant that the final episode of Neighbours should not be centred around them. They were extremely recognising of the fact that there is a cast of characters that have been in Erinsborough for much longer than they were and this should be reflected in terms of their contributions."

    Was it always the plan to air the finale in primetime? Can we expect it to be similar to previous post-watershed episodes, with a special edit and commercial music?

    "It was Ben Frow's idea to play it in peak. He asked me did I think we should do it, then as soon as I'd given my answer, asked me for two further support programmes to make a night of it.

    "I can confirm that the UK finale will be unique in that it is a specially-created hour with a bespoke super-tease (voiced by Stefan Dennis) and yes, there will be commercial tracks, the most we've ever used in one episode. A mix of contemporary and classic, but each one fitting and designed to enhance the viewer experience."

    Is there anything you can tease about the final episode? There have been lots of rumours, but are there any surprises in store?

    "Yes, of course we've kept things up our sleeves. There will be further cast returning but we are absolutely sworn to secrecy."

    What can you tell us about your broader plans for the finale night?

    "As previously mentioned, once Ben and I had discussed playing the finale at 9pm, he asked for two further programmes. The first, Neighbours: Made Me A Star, tells the story of how a daily Australian drama series launched the global careers of a galaxy of stars, and what they then went on to do.

    "The production team and cast have been really supportive, so I am delighted to report there are great interviews and anecdotes in there, classic clips and even one or two audition tapes. We even interviewed the casting director to get the full lowdown on how the now-stratospheric stars once were. They'll be watching through their fingers. You really don't want to miss it!

    "We're then also celebrating the show's pop music career successes with an hour of pop-up videos and impressive facts and stats from the likes of Kylie, Jason, Holly, Delta, Natalie, Stefan etc. That will be called Neighbours: All The Pop Hits & More; Especially For You.

    "There'll be a specially created "countdown" in the final week, a bespoke channel ident and Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy) will be the channel's continuity announcer for the night, so I really hope our fans think we've done them proud."

    Australia is getting the finale one day before the UK. Would a same-day airing have worked better?

    "I think any solution would create a headache for fans across the world, whichever way it went. The show started in Australia, and to be honest I think it's a big statement for Ten to simulcast it with 10 Peach as that's where it all began for them when they took the series ? so that's fitting.

    "We've agreed that the official territory Neighbours fan sites will not run spoilers until everyone has run it ? which I hope extends out to RTE and our Republic of Ireland fans, who I think are getting it the following Wednesday, and should afford loyal viewers the opportunity to avoid spoilers."

    There was an outpouring of love for Neighbours once the cancellation was announced, including a petition, celebrities speaking out, coverage on the news and live daytime shows. What did you make of that at the time?

    "I think we all hoped it would. When we launched the Be A Star On Neighbours competition, I remember being blown away by how much pick up that got. We were on GMTV, BBC Breakfast News, the tabloids, the broadsheets, the radio, everywhere.

    "Support for everything we've ever done with Neighbours since has always been noticeably huge, so, at first it was no surprise that the news we were losing it would cause such a stir, but it's a testament to all the hard work of each and every person involved with it at every level, everywhere, that it did."

    There's a feeling among some of the fans that more could have been done to save the show. From your perspective, were all options explored?

    "As was reported in the press, the show had been losing considerable amounts of money for Channel 5 every year since the broadcaster acquired it and it became a real problem. The business couldn't continue to lose money."

    Can you share any other details of your involvement in the show over the years and what you're most proud of?

    "There's such a lot to be proud of, because there's such a lot that we did. There's actually a very small group called "Team Australia" internally at Channel 5 that meets weekly to support our continuing dramas.

    "They're made up of people that work in marketing, press, viewer insights, presentation, social media etc and with their help we ran two huge competitions, created three 10pm outings, then a week-long strip and then the My5 exclusive Erinsborough High.

    "We flew cast over more frequently, they did much more press and TV, accepted lots of awards, which included scooping all 5 of the Radio Times Soap Awards in 2020. That was definitely a highlight.

    "The production team in Nunawading pioneered continuing their operation during the COVID pandemic and shared their intel with the UK soaps, they created and cast the first gay marriage in Australian serial drama, then cast transgender and Down's Syndrome acting talent and were the first to cast talent with a cochlear implant.

    "So to be part of all of that has made me proud ? and on a personal level I created the Lassiters boiler explosion 10pm drama climax where the characters of Josh Willis and Daniel Robinson were both trapped by a falling beam. Josh of course tragically died. It was very rewarding to see that episode top the ratings charts both for Channel 5 and 10 Peach."

    Channel 5 is continuing to work with Australia's Channel 10 and Neighbours' production company Fremantle on new projects. Can you tell us anything about that?

    "Indeed I can. We've just commissioned two further dramas from Fremantle Australia and in partnership with Ten. Production will start on Riptide this week and I'm absolutely thrilled to have secured Jo Joyner in the lead role as Alison.

    Joining Jo is Ciar?n Griffiths and Australian actors David Berry, Peter O'Brien, Ally Fowler, Pia Miranda, rising stars Benny Turland, Asher Yasbincek, and Yazeed Dahar and newcomers Benjamin Samaddar and Sonya Suares.

    "It's a psychological thriller and will be filmed in Melbourne. Alison's life is plunged into despair when her new Australian husband vanishes after a morning surf. Did he get caught in a dangerous riptide ? or is there more to his disappearance than meets the eye?

    "You'll have to stay tuned for an announcement on the second drama project. What I can say is that it will be filmed this year, again, in Melbourne, but the scripts are just being finalised so for now I have to keep tight lipped. We've secured an incredible headline name for the role. It's very, very exciting."

    Prior to the Neighbours cancellation, the fans had hotly debated the decision to drop episodes and fall behind Australia during COVID, as well as taking episodes off over Christmas. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    "When the COVID outbreak hit, we had no idea what the impact would be in terms of whether production would be possible, so the decision to reduce transmissions was made to ensure we never ran out of episodes. Thankfully, it didn't last for long.

    "The decision to take Neighbours off over Christmas was really for two reasons. Cast and crew needing a break in production meant we couldn't always guarantee we would be able to deliver Christmas week episodes, and also, scheduling was always inconsistent over the festive period and fans would invariably complain at the changing time slots."

    Does Home and Away still have a bright future on the channel and is there anything you can tease about what's coming up in Summer Bay?

    "Yes, absolutely. As we speak we are right in the middle of the PK murder saga, which is making life very difficult for Dean and it's terrific to see how the drama plays out there.

    "Someone is going to get shot, and a couple of new faces are about to arrive in the Bay, some of whom will have residents and viewers on tenterhooks in terms of their true intentions.

    "There are massive storylines set to roll out later this year which will involve some of our most beloved characters, including Marilyn.

    "I can't say more than that, but there'll be plenty of teasers and clips on the UK Home and Away Facebook page as we head towards the show's 35th anniversary next year and of course we'll be continuing to support with promos and cast visits. Exciting times."

    Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 6pm on Channel 5 and streams on My5. In Australia, the show airs Mondays to Thursdays at 6.30pm on 10 Peach and streams on 10 Play.

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