The Australian government could have salvaged the cancelled drama and turned it into a “school for actors and writers,” according to Neighbours veteran Ian Smith.
The UK’s Channel 5 opted in March not to renew its contract with production company Fremantle to finance and broadcast the series, leading to the cancellation of the cult Australian soap, which is scheduled to screen its final episode on August 1.
Smith, 83, who achieved popularity in 1987 for his role as Harold Bishop in the soap opera, claimed that a government intervention was necessary to salvage the programme.
Smith told the Courier Mail, “I think the Australian government should have bought it, placed it on the ABC, and used it as a real, working school for actors, writers, and cameramen and broadcast it as such.”
The show, he continued, has served as excellent training for aspiring Australian actors and actresses both on and off the screen, and its discontinuation will be a significant loss to the nation’s entertainment sector.
When Harold was carried into the ocean in 2008, he was killed off on the soap opera.
However, he unexpectedly made his way back to Erinsborough five years later, claiming to have amnesia. Helen Daniels happened to stumble into him while browsing in a Salvation Army store.
Ramsay Street served as the launching pad for some of Australia’s most well-known celebrities, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Alan Dale, and Liam Hemsworth.
Stefan Dennis, who portrays the charming antagonist Paul Robinson on the soap opera, claimed that greater advertising of the programme was necessary to prevent its demise because the popularity of streaming services had driven viewers away from free-to-air programmes.
Even though it was extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, he noted, “the popularity is waning a little bit.”
“If a show isn’t marketed, viewers won’t be aware of it, and without awareness, they won’t watch.”
The Australian soap opera has been shown in Australia since 1985 and continues to draw 1.2 million viewers from the UK each day. However, three years before the show’s 40th anniversary, producers and Channel 5 were reportedly considering ways to keep it on television.
Although the programme is filmed in Australia, the majority of the production costs are covered by UK broadcaster Channel 5, and the advertising revenue generated by the programme does not cover the costs.
In 1986, the soap opera made its debut on British television when it aired on BBC One.
Nearly 20 million people tuned in to watch Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie) get married two years later.
The following year, Kylie left the programme to begin her illustrious pop career, and the following year, Jason left to become a successful singer.
When Kylie and Jason started dating in real life and released the hit song Especially For You as a duo, the public’s obsession with the couple reached a fever pitch.
However, Kylie’s ascent to popularity and a subsequent romance with late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence quickly put an end to the Jason and Kylie love story.
Later, Jason went through a difficult time as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, but he has since recovered a persona consistent with Scott, his alter ego as Neighbour.
A number of foreign celebrities, including Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie, Natalie Imbruglia, Delta Goodrem, Liam Hemsworth, and Holly Valance, have also visited the soap opera’s Melbourne set.
Russell appeared in four episodes as the ex-con Kenny Larkin in the 1980s, while Liam began his career as the wheelchair-bound hottie Josh Taylor on the streets in 2007 and 2008.
In Neighbours 2008, Margot made her on-screen debut as Donna Freeman, while Natalie quit her part as Beth Brennan and bid her on-screen surfer-dude husband Brad Willis farewell in order to pursue a singing career in 1997.
In addition to coaching on Australia’s The Voice, Delta, who played Nina Tucker, has had eight number-one singles, three number-one albums, and more than six million albums sold worldwide.
In order to focus on her music career, Holly departed her role as Felicity “Flick” Scully in 2002. She had success with the single Kiss Kiss.