“For 37 years, I worked for 22 minutes a day, five days a week. I’ve been watching it my entire life, claims Middlesbrough-based writer Ben Bone, 40. He is referring to the legendary soap opera Neighbours, which will conclude on Friday after nearly forty years. Together with a friend named Ben who he met through the Neighbours Twitter community, Bone operates the Neighbours vlog “NeighBens.” From Ramsay Street’s dogs to its best car collisions, the vlog tackles the show from every conceivable viewpoint. He currently feels like a “grieving widow.”
Wow, bloody hell, it’s finally finished, you just take a moment and think that, he says. What a journey.
Every year, dozens of TV shows come to an end, but few few are as influential on culture as Neighbours. What will happen to the admirers who have centred their entire lives on it and those who consider Karl and Susan Kennedy to be family?
According to Lincoln Geraghty, a professor of media cultures at the University of Portsmouth and a lifelong fan of Neighbours, “there have been a lot of parallels drawn to the idea of bereavement and the idea of losing a loved one.” Like the five phases of sorrow, at first, viewers disregarded rumours that the show might cease (denial). Then, they tweeted furiously at Channel 5 about its choice to reduce the show’s budget (anger). Negotiations were accompanied by a petition to prevent the cancellation of the concert, and on Friday, sadness will set in. Maybe acceptance will come later.
“I think it’s crucial that fans come up with ways to either find a substitute or keep connected with it in some way,” adds Geraghty.
It’s the latter for Bone. He intends to continue Neighbens, interviewing the cast and authors and talking about previous plotlines. It will be a heartfelt homage to what was lost. I want to make something that I would want to see as a fan, and I need my fix,” he claims. “Fortunately, we have 37 years’ worth of content to peruse.”
Many viewers will also be devoted to the show offline. Instead of the Neighbours: In Conversation tour that was planned for 2020, Neighbours: The Farewell Tour will take place in March of the following year and visit venues all around the UK. There will be presentations and meet-and-greets with the cast members. There will be merchandise and video of the best scenes from the show.
The tour’s director is 38-year-old Joe Julians. Before the tour starts, he is re-watching each episode to make sure it is the finest possible homage. While he works, he watches for around eight hours each day. He laughs, “I guess I’d be divorced by now if it had my complete attention.” All of the tour dates were fully booked. It’s so much larger than I anticipated. There is great demand for this.
This requirement is evident on See Tickets. In response to a one-star review, one customer comments, “More tickets for Glasgow please!!! Another person comments, “PLEASE ADD MORE DATES IN LONDON.”
According to Julians, “There’s more of a sense of loss than you’d get from any other show.” People may not be ready to say goodbye, which may explain why the farewell tour performed so well.
The live tour will be attended by 47-year-old Dorking resident Matt Sole and pals he made through the @NeighTweets account on Twitter. The same group of friends will gather on Friday to see the last episode in a screening room at the University of Manchester that has been stocked with Kylie Minogue’s wine and boxes of tissues. He declares, “We’re all going to be hot messes.”
Sole has been using Twitter for the past few years to live tweet each event and send memes to his 4,000 followers. What happens to the internet fandom he is a member of after it ends?
He declares, “I won’t be deleting my account.” “The neighbourhood will always exist. The biggest loss, in my opinion, will be shared experience. Although it will get smaller, the community is strong enough for individuals to stay in touch and want to talk about it. We’re fervently hoping that one of the digital networks will pick up the programme for a rebroadcast so we can resume watching from episode one.
Even after a show has finished, it’s not unusual for its fans to remain devoted. The Only Fools and Horses Appreciation Society on Facebook has more than 130,000 members, despite the fact that the first season of the show ended in 1991. In the past month alone, the group has received 1,100 fan posts. Along with a social media presence, the organisation has supported fanzines and conventions, which, according to Mike Jones, 40, who assists in organising the events, sell out “instantly.”
According to Jones, “I believe that if something connects to someone, it will leave a lasting impression. That’s what excellent art is designed to do.” From eating experiences inspired by Del Boy to the musical Only Fools and Horses, there is plenty of stuff to keep fans interested. “I firmly believe that these [programmes] have a second life. That was definitely the case with Only Fools and Horses.
Unlike Neighbours, the sitcom made an obvious impact on British television history.
According to Dr. Rebecca Williams, a professor at the University of South Wales who studies media audiences and participatory cultures, “it is quite a unique sensation when soaps stop.” We grow accustomed to these things simply existing and believe they will continue to do so. She believes that a significant part of what keeps us hooked on shows after they stop is nostalgia. This makes sense given the influence Neighbours had on British culture in the 1980s and 1990s. We are moved to re-engage and re-watch by nostalgia.
Bone says, “I can’t go back and watch 37 years, but I can try.” He will be “weeping into his black veil” for the next two weeks before meeting up with some other followers in London in a month. The work of exploring Neighbours’ past then begins.
He claims that there is still a tonne of untapped backstage rumour and plenty to be happy about. “I believe there will always be someone online spreading rumours about Neighbors.”
Neighbours’ final episode will air on Channel 5 on Friday, July 29.